Three news organizations in Atlanta are challenging a motion to seal a psychiatrist’s affidavit in the capital murder case of courtroom shooter Brian Nichols.
Prosecutors filed the affidavit along with their motion asking Superior Court Judge James Bodiford to order that Nichols be evaluated by a state mental health expert. Bodiford agreed to the exam, since the defense has argued that Nichols was delusional on March 11, 2005, when he allegedly opened fire in a courtroom.
A county judge, a court reporter, a sheriff’s deputy and a federal agent were all killed.
On Tuesday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Associated Press and WSB-TV asked Bodiford to release the affidavit attached to the state’s motion, which the prosecution claimed contained sensitive information that should not iimmediately be subject to cross-examination. In their motion, the media groups argued that sealing the document contravenes Georgia Supreme Court precedent, and risks making the sealing of routine pre-trial court filings commonplace.
Nichols was being retried on rape charges in Atlanta, after his first trial ended in a hung jury, when he attacked a deputy sheriff and stole her gun, authorities say. His murder trial is set to begin July 10.