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Order sealing names of two alleged prostitution clients contested

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  1. Court Access

    NMU         PENNSYLVANIA         Secret Courts         Nov 21, 2000    

Order sealing names of two alleged prostitution clients contested

  • A trial judge released all but two names of alleged prostitution clients in a pending criminal case, citing concerns for the individuals’ reputations.

The Greensburg Tribune-Review has asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to overturn a sealing order that bars the release of the names of two men who appear to be clients of an alleged prostitution ring.

Fayette County Judge Gerard Solomon had already released the names of all the other men and the names of the alleged prostitutes. In issuing the order, Solomon said he was concerned that releasing the final two names would hurt the men’s reputations.

The underlying case involves the prosecution of Susanne Teslovich, a former Fayette County commissioner, who has been accused of running a prostitution ring from her home. Teslovich’s telephone logs were discovered during the course of the case. The judge ordered that two of the names on the telephone logs be sealed. The men have been referred to in court as John Doe No. 1 and John Doe No. 2.

The Legal Intelligencer reported that District Attorney Nancy Vernon wants the names publicized, arguing the case does not deserve special treatment.

The Pennsylvania Newspaper Association filed an amicus curiae brief supporting the Tribune-Review.

Corinna Wilson, general counsel for the association, said that “judges are mistakenly elevating personal privacy concerns over First Amendment concerns.” She noted that the law requires judges to consider the public’s traditional right of access to criminal proceedings and court records, but claimed the judges “aren’t balancing anything.”

(Commonwealth v. Teslovich; media counsel: Ron Barber of Strassburger, McKenna, Gutnick & Potter (for Tribune-Review Publiching Company, Inc.) and Corinna Wilson (for amicus curiae Pennsylvania Newspaper Association) AG

© 2000 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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