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Lower court must hear FOIA case first, Ark. court rules

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  1. Freedom of Information
The Arkansas Supreme Court on Friday refused to hear a newspaper’s request to lift a judge’s order in an open…

The Arkansas Supreme Court on Friday refused to hear a newspaper’s request to lift a judge’s order in an open records dispute.

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette had challenged a trial court judge’s order closing access to the jail records of Curtis Lavelle Vance, the murder suspect in the death of television news anchor Anne Pressly. The judge said the jail records were exempt from the state Freedom of Information Act because Vance’s fair trial rights might be implicated if they were released.

The newspaper asked the state’s highest court to overturn the order. However, on Friday the court said the newspaper must first ask a lower court, the circuit court, to consider the issue. The state’s highest court did not rule on the question of whether the jail records could be closed.

The newspaper argues that public access to the jail logs won’t compromise Vance’s chance of getting a fair trial.