Image Credit: Holly Abernathy / 6q Creative
The Tennessee Conservative [By Paula Gomes] –
After a status conference, held earlier this week, regarding the release of records from The Covenant School shooting, a judge has now decided that those wishing to intervene in the lawsuits against Metro Government of Nashville and Davidson County will be allowed to do so.
Chancellor I’Ashea Myles ruled Wednesday that The Covenant School, Covenant Presbyterian Church, and Covenant parents may present arguments against the release of documents at a show cause hearing scheduled for June 8th, and possibly extending through June 9th.
Both the school and the church say releasing the records may put students and staff at risk due to the sharing of security plans or that “copy-cat perpetrators” will use the information to commit similar crimes. Parents, who will be represented pseudonymously to keep the identities of their children private, say that releasing the documents could cause their children more trauma.
Attorneys for all those seeking the release of the records will also present arguments at the show cause hearing on June 8th.
Metro Legal says there are several exceptions to the Tennessee Public Records Act that would prevent the city from releasing the documents:
• Rule 16 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure – ongoing criminal investigation.
• Section 504(a)29(A) of Tennessee public records law – release of the records would be a violation due to personally identifying information of citizens.
• Section 504(p) of Tennessee public records law – records are related to school security.
• Section 504(t) of Tennessee public records law – records contain confidential information about the minor crime victims.
• Section 38-7-110(c) of Tennessee code – records include medical records of the deceased, law enforcement investigative reports, photographs and other media featuring the deceased.
Senator Todd Gardenhire, one of the plaintiffs requesting the release of the writings and other documents, wishes to have the information to help in the drafting of legislation before Governor Bill Lee’s special session slated for August 21st.
When the school and church first motioned to intervene in the case, some plaintiffs did not object as it related to school safety. Later, all plaintiffs opposed intervention when the parents’ motions sought even greater restrictions.
The plaintiffs, who have all been consolidated into one case, have argued that the city’s exceptions do not apply in the case due to the shooter being killed by law enforcement and also because there is no pending criminal prosecution.
“As horrible a thing that happened to the parents and the families of the people who were killed, they’re not victims of a crime,” Attorney Robb Harvey told Myles. “So the constitutional provision doesn’t apply to them.”
Attorney for The Tennessean and Gardenhire, Robb Harvey, wrote that the intervention motions have a chilling effect on the exercise of First Amendment rights.
About the Author: Paula Gomes is a Tennessee resident and reporter for The Tennessee Conservative. You can reach Paula at email@example.com.