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In re Petition for Writ of Mandamus of Los Angeles Times Communications LLC

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  1. Court Access

Case Number: 21-cv-1508

Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado

Clients: Los Angeles Times Communications LLC

Petition Filed: June 4, 2021

Background: In January 2021, a federal grand jury indicted former Olympic swimmer Klete Keller on seven criminal charges related to his alleged participation in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. As part of the government’s investigation, federal agents searched the home and vehicle of Keller, who later pled not guilty to the charges, including disorderly conduct and obstruction of an official proceeding.

In connection with his reporting on Keller’s arrest, Nathan Fenno, a sports enterprise reporter for the Los Angeles Times, attempted to access the search warrant records concerning Keller’s case. Initially, Fenno was able to print a copy of the docket sheet, which reflected a search warrant executed on the day Keller was arrested. Though the docket for the search warrant materials was initially made public through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records website, the entries were sealed.

When Fenno inquired about access to the underlying documents, a spokesperson for the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado said the search warrant materials would remain sealed. Hours later, Fenno observed that the docket was no longer publicly available.

On behalf of the Los Angeles Times, Reporters Committee attorneys petitioned the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado to order the unsealing of the search warrant materials, arguing that they are judicial records presumptively open to the public under common law.

Quote: “The public … has a particularly powerful interest in transparency in this case, which concerns the issuance of a search warrant in an investigation into an unprecedented event in U.S. history — an attack on the U.S. Capitol,” Reporters Committee attorneys wrote in a filing supporting the Los Angeles Times’ petition to unseal the records. “Public access to the Search Warrant Materials would permit the public to more fully understand the criminal proceedings pending against Keller, a public figure who allegedly participated in the Capitol Riot. Given the strong common law presumption in favor of access to the Search Warrant Materials, these judicial records should be unsealed.”

Filings:

2021-06-04: Petition for writ of mandamus compelling unsealing of judicial records

2021-06-04: Memorandum of law in support of petition for writ of mandamus compelling unsealing of judicial records

2021-06-04: Declaration of Nathan Fenno