Apr 28, 2021
Hearing on Release of Body Camera Video in Police Killing of Andrew Brown Jr. Transcript: Public Release Denied
Judge Jeffrey Foster denied a petition by the media to publicly release body camera footage from the fatal police shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. on April 28, 2021. Read the full transcript of the hearing here.
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Mr. Williams: (00:00)
… show that if you were to release it, people would try to figure out who’s who. And suppose they figured out the wrong person and what could happen to the wrong person, Your Honor. The recordings show images and voices of several law enforcement officers and they could use those voices to try to identify who they are. The release may harm the reputation … There may be somebody in there who has done nothing, but their reputation may be ruined. We know that the grand jury’s proceedings remain confidential, remain secret, because you don’t want to ruin the reputation of a person involved. Especially, if there are no charges brought or no true bill returned. Likewise, to release these body cam videos could ruin the reputation of someone whose image may appear on there.
Mr. Williams: (01:03)
And we know that release would create a serious threat to the fair and impartial in orderly administration of justice. It would threaten … If, in fact, a decision was made to charge someone, then where could you have a trial? The national media is picking up. Where are you going to have a trial? There is nowhere that you would be able to have a fair and impartial trial for the people that may possibly be charged. They are entitled and have a right to a fair and impartial trial, and I believe this right to a fair and impartial trial trumps almost any other right that the constitution gives us.
Mr. Williams: (01:56)
There is no good cause. And there’s been no good cause shown for the release of these recordings. And we would say, Your Honor, that we object to the release. However, I understand where Mr. Womble is coming from. So if, in fact, the court were to decide to release cameras, we would ask that you respect his request for there to be a 30-day delay to complete the investigation. And we understand that if criminal charges are brought, we would join in his petition to the court to not release them at the end of the 30 days because the criminal trial would be the time to release them.
Mr. Williams: (02:53)
If he were to make the decision to not institute charges, then we also understand that at that point … I mean, at some point they’re going to be released, whether it’s at a trial or at the time that he says there will be no criminal charges. So we understand that we would probably not have standing to object at that time. We’d have standing to object. We probably would not object if there is a decision that would be no criminal charges. However, I must mention something else. And that is I heard on the news that MSNBC is announcing that there may be some federal investigation, civil rights investigation. And so if, in fact, that’s true, then we probably would object to the release as long as that investigation is going on as well. Your Honor, I thank you for hearing me. The officers are very distraught over what happened. They feel for the family of Andrew Brown. But as Mr. Womble described to you, we believe that the shooting was justified.
All right. Thank you, sir.
All right. Anyone else needs to be heard with regard to this first petition? I think I’ve got everybody. Okay, Mr. Williams, I meant to ask you before you walked away. Your waiver of notice and reservation of rights with regard to that, does that extend to the second petition as well?
Mr. Williams: (04:46)
Yes. I think that everything needs to be heard today.
Okay. All right. I just wanted to make sure that I clarified that before we went forward. Because I knew you had some concerns about notes.
Mr. Williams: (04:57)
Okay. Thank you, sir.
Mr. Williams: (04:59)
All right. I think what I’m going to do is I’m going to hear the other petition as well. Let everybody respond. And then I’m going to take them both and consider my decision. I’m going to render my decision this morning, but I’m going to do it at one time. So I’d like to, at this point in time, hear Mr. Tadych’s petition on behalf of the media petitioners.
And this is 21CVS262 and I’ve just called it. There’s a number of petitioners. I’ve just called it the media petition. Ready when you are.
Mike Tadych: (06:09)
May it please the court. My name is Mike Tadych from the Law Firm of Stevens, Martin Vaughn & Tadych. And I’m here with, actually, my longtime partner, but a person that I’ve only ever practiced law with since the first day I started practicing law. This is Amanda Martin. Ms. Martin is the long-time general counsel for the North Carolina Press Association and teaches media law at both the journalism school and at times the law school in Chapel Hill. I like to say, “I’m here with my lawyer,” this morning.
Mike Tadych: (06:40)
Your Honor, as you remarked, we are here on behalf of now 20 media entities, which are the companies. As far as media outlets go, I believe I’ve lost count. It’s a lot more than 20. We are here under 132-1.4A seeking the release of the recordings of the incident involving Mr. Brown from the time they begin to the time that the protests that were spontaneous afterwards were that evening. That’s what we’ve requested. Your Honor, the eyes of Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County, North Carolina, our nation, and perhaps the world, are upon us today. The petitioners are not here to indict or vindicate law enforcement, and they are not here to indict or vindicate Mr. Brown. They are here in the interest of advocating for transparency in the hopes of aiding the national conversation we find ourselves in about citizens’ interactions with police.
Mike Tadych: (07:41)
Your Honor, if I may, I’d like to give you a little bit of a procedural background because I believe there’s been some consternation about that. Talk about the factual background and then talk about our arguments in favor of release. Is that all right-
Mike Tadych: (07:55)
Your Honor, the petitioner is the original petition, and I will say there have been three and I can delineate, was on behalf of a smaller subset of the petitioners that are before you today. We attempted to file that petition last Friday, the courier service that we used to bring it to Pasquotank County was met with the unexpected closure of the Clerk’s Office, and it could not be filed at that time. I personally attempted to locate chief residence for your Court Judge Tillett to see if he would accept the filing. He and I had a conversation on Saturday evening where he indicated that he would prefer we file it on Monday morning. It was here in Elizabeth City. And that’s what we intended to do.
Mike Tadych: (08:43)
It occurred to us based on, as Your Honor is aware, this is a quite evolving matter, that there were also static cameras mounted on poles here in Elizabeth City. And so our original petition went to the Sheriffs in Pasquotank, Perquimans, and Dare county, and the North Carolina SBI. The first one was filed at 10:45 AM on Monday. Our amended petition was filed at 10:47 AM on Monday at Elizabeth City Police Department. And we served all of those petitions. Actually, we served the one we tried to file on Friday before on Friday via email and fax, the best we could. And then we served the other one on Monday, right after it was filed. Later that evening, we got an order signed by Judge Tillett referencing the respondents to the amended petition, which included Elizabeth City, ordering them to produce the recordings for in-camera review. It did not set a person or place or time, but it did have that order. And it also set the notice of hearing for this time that we’re here this morning. And it ordered law enforcement to notify law enforcement whose image or voice appeared in the recordings to notify them of this hearing and their right to be here today.
Mike Tadych: (10:06)
I believe this is the 33rd or 34th one of these I’ve done. And we always seem to get a little hiccup in that step in that I don’t have control over what service is done on law enforcement, because I don’t know who’s in the video. And so that’s where it becomes a problem. I think there has been a lot of unfamiliarity with the law and part of what my mantra has been, always, is we’ve known from the very start that it would take an order of a superior court judge to obtain release. And we’ve not wavered from that. We get this process. In any event, Your Honor-
Was the request for the pole camera that was produced for you, was that produced to you, as well, by the Chief of Police?
Mike Tadych: (10:51)
I’m not sure that I’m following, Your Honor.
There was a video that was released outside of the appropriate procedures that was reported to have been provided to a media outlet that was on the internet-
… added to a media outlet that was on the internet yesterday. Was that released pursuant to a petition you filed?
Mike Tadych: (11:08)
You honor, I don’t know why it was released. Here’s my understanding. It was unclear to me. I looked at the coverage of the first petitioner, the daily advance from last year, and it indicated that the Elizabeth City security cameras were put up at the request of police and were operated on behalf of the police. That’s the last information I have about those cameras. It is my understanding… And so, they fall into one or two categories. If they are operated on behalf of the police or by the police or law enforcement, then I believe they are under the statute. Alternatively, if they’re operated by the park department or some other department, they would be public records under the law. My advice in any of those situations, if you don’t know, are these operated by the police or not because people aren’t saying it and the police are not obligated to answer questions like that, make your public records requests. But we’re going to make the petition in case they are law enforcement recordings.
Mike Tadych: (12:08)
It’s my understanding that they were released pursuant to public records request. And standing in front of you, I don’t know Elizabeth City’s position on whether these are law enforcement recordings or not. Based on my information from the daily advance from a little over a year ago, I thought they were. To answer your question specifically, I did not receive a copy. I saw them on the internet as well. I saw a video on the internet and I believe I’ve only seen one.
I think there was one, thank you.
Mike Tadych: (12:36)
In response to service of the amended petition, Mr. Hai contacted me on behalf of the Clemons County sheriff and indicated he made an appearance and indicated that they do not have body cameras. And so, there was nothing to be had. And I certainly told Mr. Hai that I understood and I would be happy to represent that to the court. And Mr. Hai appeared here at this morning out of an abundance of caution. Similarly, counsel for Derrick County contacted me and indicated I talked with [inaudible 00:13:09] first, and then his partner contacted me in writing and gave a letter, which I believe the court has, that they also don’t have any responsive recordings to this incident. And we understand that.
Mike Tadych: (13:20)
Ms. Martin and I have been doing public records cases for decades. And we’re used to asking for stuff, not knowing whether it exists. This is kind of like that process to us. Our process has always been ask for the widest swath and that way you’ll get what you get. There was a one of these proceedings in Mecklenburg County. The request was made for particular incident, the recording of that incident. And unfortunately, the Mecklenburg Police Department decided to take the most narrow view possible of that request and produced… My recollection is two minutes and 30 or 40 seconds of video. And it ended abruptly at the shooting of the person in a Burger King parking lot.
Mike Tadych: (14:05)
Much to everyone’s surprise, including Judge Bell, who was here in the hearing, there was about another 11 or 12 minutes of video that had not been disclosed to the judge and had not been certainly not disclosed in the process. That came about because it was shown to the city council in Mecklenburg County. Taking that information, that’s why we make our requests as broad as we do. We’re not trying to give anybody any hassle. We understand what the process is. We understand that it takes up the court’s time. This is the process that our legislature has given us. And so we use it. We fully acknowledge your honor has an immense amount of discretion in what to do here. And we’re always cognizant of that.
Mike Tadych: (14:48)
In this particular incident, law enforcement went to Mr. Brown’s house to serve what I understand are both arrest and search warrants. There was an incident, a shooting happened, Mr. Brown died soon thereafter. And it’s my understanding that both Pasquotank and Derrick County deputies were at the time of that incident. And then [inaudible 00:15:13] deputies came in after the fact to both help with crime scene security and then both spontaneous gatherings at the location. And then, it’s my understanding at city hall and the sheriff’s office parking lot. That’s the gamut of what we’re looking for. As I said at the beginning, we’re not here to indict or vindicate anyone. We’re trying to understand what happened.
Mike Tadych: (15:34)
To suggest as Mr. Williams has, and perhaps Mr. Womble have that, there’s not a compelling public interest in this, this proceeding, the number of petitioners we have, the fact that you and I are probably appearing on television screens and computer screens all over the country at this point in time, and all that we’ve been through in the last year is absolutely evident that there’s a compelling public interest to release these videos. I have attached the seven officer involved shooting orders from other courts. And you will see in our index, it’s a fairly short window. Most of the time when those recordings… Or at least some of them within less than two weeks, some of them within about two weeks of the incident.
Mike Tadych: (16:19)
Certainly the ones that are beginning, it was unclear prior to having the statute, whether recording such as this were public records or personnel records or records of criminal investigation. The legislature has set us at least somewhat straight in that regard. They’re not public records, but this is the process that everyone has given to seek their release. And that’s the court with the opportunity to review them and apply the factors that the court thinks is appropriate.
Mike Tadych: (16:48)
As we’ve stated in the brief, and I’m assuming, your honor, has read-
I have your brief and the attachments and I have reviewed.
Mike Tadych: (16:57)
Okay. Thank you. The radio traffic indicated that Mr. Brown had been shot in the back, which also adds interest in this under the circumstances. Mr. Womble’s recitation of what happened, which stands in stark contrast with the family’s attorney’s representations of what happened to me is absolutely compelling to release it.
Mike Tadych: (17:21)
Everyone can have their opinion of what happened. The video may or may not show what happened or how it happened. And so, releasing that will provide the information. The best vaccine to rumor is fact, and it shows the facts of what they are, or it may not. I’ve done a number of these, and I’ve been in circumstances where somebody in an incident like this is claiming excessive force or something like that. Police saying it didn’t happen. And both results have happened. The video gets released and it supports the claims of excessive force or it absolutely refutes the claims of excessive force. I have also had situations where it doesn’t tell, that it leaves it to be concluded. All of those things are important as we stated in our brief, that accountability is important, but in order to hold public officials accountable, one has to see what’s going on. And this is a very evident of that. I’m sure your honor is aware that in Minneapolis and the George Floyd situation, that the original police report indicated that Mr. Floyd had a medical incident and that caused his death. If it weren’t for the folks standing aside, I don’t know if we would have ever known what happened in that case. And certainly, your honor is aware of how that played out in the last week.
Mike Tadych: (18:43)
That’s the type of stuff that we as citizens in trying to hold our public officials accountable, it’s information. I have seen videos of officer involved shootings. I remember one from Moore County, it was a hailstorm of bullets. It was very disturbing to watch. And I remember that it struck me, again, how difficult law enforcement’s job is, when a young deputy turned around and he was absolutely terrified of what had just happened. And it was important for me to see that and the public to see that, so they understand how difficult this job is. It’s also important for law enforcement to see how their interactions with the public have an effect on people. It is part of that conversation. Your honor, we do not believe that the release of these recordings will jeopardize an ongoing investigation or dependency of any charges. There are none pending. Apparently there are active investigations. You will see in the orders that we’ve attached, that these videos just like this have been released as investigations are ongoing. It’s my understanding and know representatives of the FBI are here, that the director of the FBI has indicated that he’s taking no position, but certainly doesn’t object to the release. If they’re the investigating agency, I think that adds a lot of weight. And I hear Mr. Womble, that you can use certain types of evidence to test the credibility of people. I’ve been around the block. You’ve been around the block. To believe that people involved in this situation aren’t talking, and haven’t talked to one another, and aren’t comparing notes of what they think happened is just not accurate.
Mike Tadych: (20:29)
It’s what happens in these situations. I’m sure it happened immediately as it’s happened immediately in every one of these videos I’ve seen released. What happened, it literally starts right at the moment of the shooting and continues on. That’s not going to change the facts. This was done in the open. Nobody had any expectation of privacy via the officers or Mr. Brown. And then in addition to that, Mr. Womble has argued and Mr. Williams has argued that the faces of the officers fault should be redacted. Certainly, that’s within your purview, your honor. I know my clients have been asking for the information that is absolutely public record under 153A-98, with respect to the officers of [inaudible 00:21:19] County Sheriff’s Department. And so far, that information has not been produced.
Mike Tadych: (21:23)
And as your honor is aware in our brief, we list that information. The names of these officers are going to come out, because they have to give us that public information. I don’t want to be back here in a public records fight. There is no legal justification to withhold the information that the general assembly has made public. If that information is out, then there’s no reason to blur the faces of the officers. I am deeply disappointed and I completely understand the threats being made, but the release hasn’t been made and there are already threats. I don’t know how releasing it is going to change whatever somebody’s motivation is.
Mike Tadych: (22:03)
I don’t know how releasing it is going to change whatever somebody’s motivation is to make additional threats or that sort of thing. And Mr. Williams indicated that somebody who didn’t do anything wrong might be thrown into that pile of people that did. Well, releasing the video and seeing who did or didn’t do what will work to alleviate that. Keeping it secret keeps the group of people unknown and thus people are going to do what people are going to do.
Mike Tadych: (22:34)
You experienced, and you talked to us in chambers about the security. I’m looking around and there’s security all around me. I couldn’t even park near the courthouse. And if that’s what needs to happen, that’s what needs to happen. I know that you have security detail. I know that others [inaudible 00:22:50]. And if that’s what needs to happen, that’s what needs to happen.
Mike Tadych: (22:54)
With respect to the pretrial publicity, the court is well aware, and I’m sure you have access to the school of governments’ bench book on pretrial publicity and there’s a whole host of things that as presiding judge can apply to deal with pretrial publicity other than sealing a particular record. I can’t speak to the wisdom of what they did, but through this process, the general assembly has made these recordings, which are now in possession of the court for in camera review judicial records. And there’s a well-established first amendment right for access to judicial records. And any order sealing those records must be reviewed under strict scrutiny. And we don’t think that such an order could withstand strict scrutiny.
Speaker 1: (23:40)
But I’m not being asked to seal records. I’m being asked under the statute whether to disclose records.
Mike Tadych: (23:47)
And I get that nuance, Your Honor. What I’m getting at-
Speaker 1: (23:50)
That’s not a nuance. That’s a pretty bright line exception or different.
Mike Tadych: (23:54)
I understand that. What I’m getting at is the general assembly has seen fit to put these records and make them judicial records. And thus, there are first amendment concerns that then attach to those records because they now are judicial records. And so by not releasing them, we think that’s tantamount to a sealing order or perpetuating their being sealed. I don’t mean to be pejorative in using the word nuance. I just think we have a difference of opinion. And I respect your understanding. The other aspect is the notion of delay. And if there’s a first amendment right to these recordings, that every day that they are not released harms that right. And it’s irreparable. So that weighs in favor of release.
Mike Tadych: (24:50)
It appears, if I understand correctly, that the sheriff is in favor of release, the SBI doesn’t a position and doesn’t object to it. The Brown family is in favor of release. And it’s the District Attorney and Mr. Williams and his unknown clients who are objecting to release our partner. Hugh Stephens just finished an Amicus briefing in a Supreme Court case here in North Carolina. The name of it is not coming to me, but it involved an anonymous case filed in Cumberland County.
Speaker 2: (25:26)
Doe v. Doe.
Mike Tadych: (25:26)
Doe v. Doe. So there you go. Where we and others challenged the fact of proceeding anonymously. I don’t think you can do that under North Carolina law. If Mr. Williams is making an appearance, he needs to identify his client for the court. Certainly understand the practical reasons why he’s not doing that, but I don’t think he can do that under the Doe v. Doe case and comport with North Carolina law. If he identifies his clients, again, all of the reasons to blur and withhold the public records regarding the officers of Pasquotank County Sheriff’s office fall away. And so I think that’s important. There are no charges.
Mike Tadych: (26:08)
Lastly, it is my understanding and it’s happened in the vast majority of these cases that I’ve done is the recordings capture transmissions of law enforcement broadcast over the public airwaves. Under the public records law, that is unequivocally a public record, and it would take law enforcement coming to make a motion to have those not released. And they have to bear the burden of that. I don’t believe any such motion has been made in response to our petition. And so I alert the court to 132-1.4C4.
Mike Tadych: (26:46)
Your Honor, it wasn’t argued here, I’ll throw it so the court understands that we may get there. I don’t know the circumstances of what other first responders came to the scene. Others have argued that there would be in violation of HIPAA and here law enforcement, we’ve provided you in a brief, law enforcement are not covered entities. Their receipt of protected healthcare information in the discharge of their duties does not then lead to them. In addition, as I’ve said, this happened in the public view, I believe in public street. So there wouldn’t be any HIPAA attachment or that right of privacy isn’t involved. Your Honor, as I started saying, the eyes of the world are upon us. Whatever these videos show, it will show them upon release and people can draw the conclusions that they want to draw from there. I am not aware of any instance in North Carolina where the videos have been released, whether it’s in an officer involved shooting, a police chase resulting in a crash and a death, and a claim of excessive force where a judge has determined after they’re released that a juror or a defendant couldn’t get a fair trial or and thus prohibited the district attorney from proceeding with the charges. I have not heard of a case where a court decides that their usual arsenal of things that a court has at its disposal to deal with pretrial publicity are ineffective because of the release of the videos.
Mike Tadych: (28:33)
I don’t say this because past experience doesn’t necessarily predict the future, but I believe in these cases, we’ve obtained release in all of them. There have been redactions and there have been blurring and things like that. One judge ordered the blurring of a minor child’s face at a shooting scene. We’ve blurred people sitting in a booking area as somebody who’s being processed and that sort of stuff. What I urge you to consider if you were thinking about those things is that hard cuts on video lead to speculation. Minimal blurring to protect people who are truly un-involved makes sense and it doesn’t lead to the speculation. We have also had situations where a witness is giving an officer somebody’s cell phone number or other contact information and we’ve muted those so that somebody’s personal information isn’t being given out. We’re respectful of that. I think not knowing what’s on the video, I think you can craft an order that addresses those things, but gives the public as much information as possible so that they can have a better understanding of what transpired here in Pasquotank County.
Mike Tadych: (29:52)
Anything to add? With that, Your Honor, unless you have any questions, [inaudible 00:29:56].
Speaker 1: (29:55)
No sir. Thank you.
Mike Tadych: (29:56)
Speaker 1: (29:59)
With regards to this petition, [inaudible 00:30:02]?
Speaker 3: (30:03)
And I’ll be brief because I know Your Honor appreciates brevity. I just don’t like being misquoted. I stood up here and I did not say that that was not a public interest. I clearly said that public accountability was a public interest. I said that. In this case, it is outweighed by my responsibility to conduct the orderly administration of justice and also the potential rights of the accused or potential accused to a fair trial. It’s outweighed. As counsel clearly stated, people will, his words, draw conclusions. That’s what they’re going to do. They’re going to form and express opinions about what they’ve seen. And the video is the ultimate issue. This is not a tangential video. I don’t know the ones that he’s describing. He’s described 30 or 20 odd times he’s been around the state to obtain videos. I don’t know what they showed. I don’t know that they go to the ultimate issue. I have no idea. In this case, they do.
Speaker 3: (31:10)
So potential jurors in the first judicial district will draw conclusions according to his words. They will form and express those opinions. It will hinder the orderly administration of justice and it will hinder a fair trial. Counsel pointed out that no case has ever decided that you couldn’t get a fair trial. Well, maybe they weren’t articulate attorneys. Maybe they’ve held the trial somewhere where they don’t have internet. I don’t know. What I do know is that you cannot swing a skunk in front of a good group of people and then ask them not to smell it. What I’ve asked is disclosure and release. I want Your Honor to give me an opportunity to complete this investigation or the SBI to complete this investigation. Let me review it, make my decision, and then everybody can Monday morning quarterback me. Thank you, Judge.
Speaker 1: (32:19)
Mr. Williams, you have anything you want to add?
Mr. Williams: (32:21)
Yes, Your Honor. Maybe there’s something I’m missing here. And I miss a lot, a lot of times.
Speaker 1: (32:39)
Oh, Mr. Williams, I don’t think you miss that much.
Mr. Williams: (32:43)
I’m reading the statute 132-1.4A. And in subsection C, it names the people who are subject to disclosure, to whom it may be disclosed. They include a person whose image or voice is in the recording-
Mr. Williams: (33:03)
… they include a person whose image or voice is in the recording, a personal representative of that person, a personal representative of a minor or an adult under lawful guardianship, a personal representative of a deceased person, whose image or voice is in the recording, or a personal representative of an adult person who is incapacitated. And then you go to the section F, dealing with release, and it says, “Not withstanding the provisions of subsection G, a person authorized to receive disclosure.” The media is not a person authorized to receive disclosure. A person authorized to receive disclosure, and then going on, may petition the superior court for an order releasing the recording to a person authorized to receive disclosure.
Mr. Williams: (34:05)
The court shall determine if the person to whom release of the recording requested is a person authorized to receive disclosure pursuant to subsection C. I submit to your honor that the press does not have standing, and is not covered by this statute. At the end, if in fact you order release with a delay of 30 days, then they can get it when it’s released then. And we would ask you to deny the request, and then I would renew all of my prior arguments on the county’s petition as well.
All right. Thank you, sir. Mr High, as you were reporting, your county was a party to this. Do you want to be heard with regard to this issue?
Hackney High: (34:56)
Just briefly, your honor. Thank you very much and good morning to you.
Hackney High: (35:01)
For the record, I’m Hackney High and I’m here on behalf of the Perquimans County Sheriff’s office, and as your honor well knows, that is a county that’s located adjacent to this county, just west of us. Elizabeth City is not within the jurisdiction of the Perquimans County Sheriff’s office, but shortly after the shooting, our office received a phone call requesting mutual aid assistance over here for crime scene preservation, for security, for crowd control and the like. Due to certain budgetary restraints, we are a very small county, a very poor county, we don’t have body cams, and none of the officers that came to assist local law enforcement were equipped with body cams, and we don’t have any recordings of any of the events that we witnessed while we were here providing that mutual aid assistance. I just want to be clear for the record, there is nothing that we could release because we don’t have cameras and there were no recordings made. And accordingly, I would just ask that the Sheriff’s Office of Perquimans County be released from this proceeding and any further obligations that it may have.
[inaudible 00:36:13] that.
Mike Tadych: (36:14)
No objection, your honor.
Okay. I’ll grant that relief. [crosstalk 00:36:17]
Hackney High: (36:16)
Thank you, your honor. I appreciate it very much. Thank you.
Yes, sir. All right. Anything else?
Mike Tadych: (36:22)
Your honor, just to address Mr Williams point, I want to make sure that the court is aware that the petitioners, my clients, the 20 media entities have petitioned under 132-1.4 subsection G, which is the general release provisions. F is reserved for those entitled to disclosure and law enforcement. A major difference between F and G is those petitioning under F, which could be law enforcement or those entitled to disclosure, don’t have to pay the $200 nonrefundable fee. My clients paid the $200 nonrefundable fee. Other than that, your honor, I would also say that with respect to speculation, the speculation and conclusions are going to be drawn whether or not they’re released. We believe that release will, as I said, will quell the rumors, or deal with rumors, or vaccinate the rumors, because it will be facts that will be released. Thank you, your honor.
All right. Yes sir? Yes sir?
Speaker 4: (37:22)
Your honor, I wanted to clarify one thing. Mr Williams waived notice today and I want to tell the court that he has of course not seen this petition today, and I want to apologize to him, because I don’t think we were sure if this was under F or G, and I do understand in G. So, to the extent I caused any confusion to Mr Williams, I apologize to him publicly, and this has just happened at a very quick fast pace, and I think we’re all learning a lot very quickly. As to the public records request, I’ve been inundated with public records requests, and I understand there will be a time and place, and we do intend to address those. But I can’t tell you how many I have received. So again, sorry to Mr Williams, and thank you sir, thank you.
All right. Well, certainly we’re not here today on public record requests, so we’ll reserve that for another day. All right, anything else? Yes, ma’am?
Amanda Martin: (38:17)
Your honor, Amanda Martin, also for the petitioners with Mr Tadych. As your honor knows, we served last night and have filed a petition asking the court to address the scope of the curfew that is embedded in the Elizabeth City declaration of a state of emergency, and as your honor suggested, I have spoken this morning with the city attorney. We have communicated about this and I asked him if he was comfortable with me to put this on the record since he is not here and he responded, “Absolutely.” He is comfortable with this, that it’s the position of the city that working journalists will not be subject to the curfew, and that he’s not sure yet whether that will be through an amendment to the order, or whether it will be through a working understanding and application of the existing order, but that he was comfortable with putting it on the court record that working journalists will not be subject to the curfew that is part of the existing declaration.
All right. Well, that’s something … There’s nothing before me, an order or anything before me, so I don’t think I need to comment on any of that. You can continue to work on it, and if you all can reach a resolution that’s fine, if not and we need to take action on your motion, then we can do so.
Amanda Martin: (39:46)
I don’t think that will be necessary.
Okay. All right.
Amanda Martin: (39:48)
Thank you, your honor.
Okay. Thank you. All right. So, here’s what I’m going to do. I would like to be at ease for a few minutes. I’m going to back in chambers and put these matters down and render my decision, and I’ll be back out to do that in about 15 or 20 minutes, okay? And we’ll be at ease until that time.
Mike Tadych: (40:09)
Your honor, I don’t mean to be presumptuous, but I did prepare with the caption for our petition the form AOC order on this.
I’m happy to take that and look at it, yes.
Mike Tadych: (40:19)
There are [inaudible 00:40:20].
Mike Tadych: (40:20)
All right, anything else before we … All right, we’ll be at ease for about 15, 20 minutes.
Mike Tadych: (40:27)
Thank you, your honor.
Speaker 5: (40:28)
Court be at ease for about 15 to 20 minutes.
The court having reviewed the evidence, the petition, reviewed the brief filed by Mr. Tidy on behalf of his clients and all the attachments there too. The court is going to find that with regards to the media’s request for release that the media is not a party contemplated under 132-1.4G for release. But if they were, and it was appropriate to release to them, the court undertook the analysis under G with regard to the release of recordings and finds that there is evidence that the release would advance a compelling public interest. There is evidence that the recording contains information that is otherwise confidential or exempt from disclosure released under state or federal law.
The court finds that the petitioner is not a person requesting or seeking to obtain evidence to determine legal issues in a current or potential court proceeding. The court finds number four, that it would reveal information regarding a person as of a highly sensitive and personal nature. Number five, that the release may harm the reputation or jeopardize the safety of a person. Number six, that the release would create a serious threat to the fair, impartial, and orderly administration of justice. And number seven, that confidentiality is necessary at this point to protect an active internal and criminal investigation or potential internal criminal investigation. The court therefore finds that the good cause does not exist for granting the petition of the media petitioners. And therefore, that petition is respectfully denied by the court.