The pressure on Danbury's State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky to suppress public information about last December's Newtown massacre cannot be good for his health. Nor is it good for the health of open government or the populace at large.
During a meeting with families of victims on March 27, Sedensky tried to explain how open government works. Amid suggestions to keep the case "open forever,' Sedensky advised the group that pro bono lawyers could step forward to help fight the release of public information.
Judge "Roll-Over' John Blawie — without as much as a perfunctory hearing — that same day allowed Sedensky to hide public records for another 90 days.
A trained monkey could insert this line into a judicial order: "The court finds that due to the nature and circumstances of this case and the ongoing investigation, the state's interest in continuing nondisclosure substantially outweighs the right to public disclosure at this time.'
But, that doesn't make it right, just or true.
An honest ruling might say: "Damn the public interest. We have a lot to hide for reasons you can't make us disclose.'
Are there any legitimate law enforcement reasons to keep hiding this information? What suspects would be tipped off with normal and customary production of uncensored search warrants? What evidence would be lost?
These guys do not deserve the benefit of the doubt. By continuing to suppress information, Sedensky has lessened public confidence in his ability and his office. This information does not belong to Sedensky or the governor. It belongs to all of us. We do not yield our sovereignty to our public servants. They do not have the right to decide what is good for us to know.
The 911 tapes, which the Associated Press was denied, are among the information that would go a long way toward providing a complete picture. Without them, and amid the high-profile presence of police scanner snippets online, Sedensky adds more fuel to the speculation with his game of Connecticut hold ' em.
"This was a case that had a profound impact on people beyond the immediate area and it will have a profound impact on public policy, Richard Hanley, graduate journalism director at Quinnipiac University, told the AP. "It's imperative that the authorities release the full investigative records, the 911 calls and other documents relative to this slaughter, because the overriding interest is the public's right to know.'
Until that happens, Sedensky and the public will be in a state of grave disrepair. Sedensky has taken what is rightfully ours, and that is wrong.