Follow us:

Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

May 2, 2014 at 7:05 AM

Court secrecy necessary to protect the innocent

The guest column “The return to secrecy in the courts?” [Opinion, April 30] warns us that the state Supreme Court is considering a change that would allow the identities of defendants in criminal cases to be concealed.

The column begins by describing three criminal convictions: one for sexual harassment and retaliation, one for a college’s shoddy teaching, and one for the torture of stepchildren. It emphasizes the importance of warning the public against malefactors like these. Later, it cites a series of Seattle Times articles that exposed many instances in which courts sealed criminal files “without considering the public interest.”

So far so good.

But then the article describes more specifically the change the Supreme Court is contemplating: “Under the proposal, if criminal charges are dismissed, vacated or pardoned, or defendants are acquitted, there would be a ‘sufficient privacy’ interest to outweigh the public’s interest in evaluating whether the criminal justice system works properly.”

In other words, the change would not apply to the three cases described at the beginning of the article — because in those, the defendants were found guilty. Their names could still be published. The change would protect the names only of those who are acquitted or whose charges are dismissed. That seems fair, if we still believe that a person is legally innocent until found guilty.

Robert and Susan Stanton, Seattle

Comments | More in courts | Topics: judicial secrecy, Robert and Susan Stanton, state supreme court

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►