A Phoenix court has ruled that the Associated Press and subsequently the public are not entitled to the redacted names from an affidavit concerning Jason Grimsley from 2005. U.S. Magistrate Edward Voss essentially ruled that the potential damage to the grand jury investigation - recently renewed for an additional 6 months - outweighed any First Amendment rights to release the names.
"Disclosure at this time may compromise the ongoing investigation in several ways."
As part of the government’s case, Voss was provided with a sealed affidavit outlining the current status of the government’s investigation. The details from the ongoing investigation, submitted by chief prosecutor, Jeff Nedrow, appeared to convince the judge that the government had a legitimate reason for keeping the names private. Associated Press lawyers were not allowed to view that document.
"Cooperation could be affected… investigation of named individuals could be compromised, leads developed from undisclosed information could be cut off and evidence could be destroyed."
"The indictments thus far relate to the 'supply' side of the problem… What remains for possible prosecution is the alleged illegal possession and use of these substances. In this area, no indictments have been issued and the investigation continues."
Voss made a point of saying that once the government’s investigation is completed a judge might rule differently.
"As the government acknowledges in Mr. Nedrow's affidavit, the continuation of the investigation makes the government's interest paramount 'at this point… When the investigation concludes, the weight of the government's argument against disclosure will change dramatically."
The judge also dispelled the Associated Press’s assertion that the names were provided to George Mitchell and his investigators, and thus should be available to everyone.
"The court concludes that the redacted material has not been provided to others.”
Associated Press Lawyer, Dave Tomlin, said their position was not affected by the judge’s decision. He also said that they haven’t decided whether or not to appeal the decision though it seems likely.
"We're disappointed and not at all persuaded that disclosing the names at this late date could hurt any investigation that might still be under way."