Case Number: 3:20-CR-00389
Court: U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas
Client: El Paso Matters
Motion to Intervene and Unseal Filed: Nov. 21, 2023
Background: In February 2023, Patrick Crusius pled guilty to 90 federal charges for killing 23 people and wounding 22 others during a mass shooting in an El Paso Walmart in 2019. Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty in the case and a judge sentenced Crusius to 90 consecutive life terms in prison.
In November 2023, the prosecution filed a motion to unseal a number of its sealing motions and corresponding court orders in the case.
On behalf of El Paso Matters, which has reported extensively on the government’s prosecution of Crusius, Reporters Committee attorneys filed a motion to unseal all records in the case to provide the public with a more complete picture of how Crusius was prosecuted and sentenced for his crimes. Reporters Committee attorneys argue that El Paso Matters has a First Amendment and common law right of access to the sealed records.
Quote: “Though it has endeavored to report on this case as thoroughly as possible, the extensive sealing of judicial records in this case, which includes transcripts of proceedings, has significantly hindered El Paso Matters’ coverage and the public’s understanding of how this case proceeded,” Reporters Committee attorneys argue in El Paso Matters’ motion to unseal. “For example, the public, to this day, knows little about the details of Crusius’ attack. Nor does the public have an understanding of why the Government decided not to seek the death penalty in this case.”