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Newspaper seeks access to sealed Enron hearing transcript

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Newspaper seeks access to sealed Enron hearing transcript

  • Three former Enron executives and their attorneys convened in open court, but were moved into the judge’s chambers for a pretrial conference.

Aug. 6, 2003 — A U.S. District judge in Houston today granted an emergency hearing after the Houston Chronicle requested access to the sealed transcript of a status hearing for former Enron Corp. finance chief Andrew Fastow

Fastow and former Enron executives Ben Glisan Jr. and Dan Boyle and their attorneys were called to the July 28 hearing in their case to the chambers of U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt.

According to Chronicle attorney Bill Ogden, there was no indication that the hearing was going to be closed. The parties convened in open court and then moved to Hoyt’s chambers. It was unclear why the hearing was moved, Ogden said.

The docket in Fastow’s case describes the hearing as an “in chambers conference regarding potential trial dates and exchange of discovery.” It notes that the “transcript of this proceeding is filed under seal.”

“Since the hearing was closed, we don’t know what matters were taken up,” Ogden said. “The point is not whether it was a major matter or a minor matter. The point is that the public has a right to know what goes on in the courtroom.”

Hoyt issued no rulings after the closed conference and none of the attorneys would comment on what had been discussed.

“Mr. Fastow stands accused of fraudulent acts which arguably led to the fall of Enron, directly impacting tens of thousands of Houstonians,” Ogden wrote in the Chronicle’s motion to unseal the transcript.”It is beyond question that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides the public and the press with a guarantee of open access to criminal trial and pretrial proceedings.”

Ogden was notified today that his request for an emergency hearing for the matter has been granted. The hearing is scheduled for Aug. 26.

Fastow faces dozens of counts of fraud, insider trading, money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

(United States v. Andrew Fastow; Media counsel, Bill Ogden, Ogden, Gibson, White, Broocks & Longoria LLP, Houston) JL


© 2003 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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