Wyo. judge faults court records policy

Ahnalese Rushmann | Secret Courts | Quicklink | April 22, 2009

A Wyoming court's policy of banning public access to child endangerment cases files violates the state public records law, a judge ruled Thursday, according to the Casper Star-Tribune.

District Judge Scott Skavdahl's ruling came in response to a December lawsuit filed by the Casper newspaper against Circuit Judge Michael Huber, after the newspaper reports it sought "the release of records in child endangerment cases that don't involve sex crimes."  In Wyoming, the district court is higher than the circuit level.

According to the Star-Tribune, Skavdahl said "it was beyond his discretion to tell the circuit court exactly what policy it should have in regard to such records." But the newspaper's attorney, Bruce Moats, said the ruling will still give the public more information about criminal charges in such cases.

"The court will continue to withhold the names of victims in charges of a sexual nature," Moats explained in a written statement, "as well as information reasonably likely to identify the victim, but will not automatically close the entire case file in those cases."