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Judge unseals confessions while defendant appeals case

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  1. Court Access

    NMU         NEW YORK         Secret Courts         May 10, 2000    

Judge unseals confessions while defendant appeals case

  • A trial judge vacated a pre-trial seal he had placed on portions of a defendant’s criminal file, as the defendant appeals the court’s decision to allow the written statements into evidence.

A Little Valley judge ruled on May 3 that portions of a criminal file — including written “confessions” to the crimes in question — that lead a juvenile defendant to accept a plea bargain will not be kept under seal while the defendant appeals the trial court’s decision to allow the statements into evidence.

Judge Larry Himelein vacated the pretrial seal that he had placed on the records, accepting the arguments of The Buffalo News and the Salamanca (N.Y.) Press that the media’s First Amendment rights trumped the defendant’s concerns that his Sixth Amendment rights to a far trial would be harmed by the release of the file, which included two written statements.

The defendant, 16-year-old Edward Kindt, was charged with the 1999 rape and murder of Penny Brown, a 39-year-old Salamanca resident. Kindt, who was a 15-year-old special education student with an IQ of 72 when he was arrested, was charged as an adult, according to a Buffalo News report. His attorneys are appealing in an effort to suppress his statements on the grounds that the interrogating police officers denied Kindt’s request for an attorney during questioning and that the police violated state law by separating Kindt from his mother during his interrogation.

(New York v. Kindt; Media Counsel: Joseph Finnerty, Buffalo)

© 2000 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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