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Hearing On Appeal Of Judge's Ruling To Seal Perez Report Open To The Public

JEFFREY B. COHEN

July 28, 2009

The state Supreme Court said Monday that a hearing this week on an appeal of a judge's decision to seal much of his final report in the grand jury investigation of Mayor Eddie A. Perez will be open to the public.

Last week, Superior Court Judge Dennis Eveleigh said he would seal the parts of his report in which he finds probable cause because the report's release could either damage a person's right to a fair trial or a person's reputation.

The Courant appealed that decision Friday, arguing that jury questioning and a change of venue could ensure a fair trial, while also arguing that the report doesn't "establish facts of significant damage to reputation or the element of uncorroborated information."

Late Friday, the Supreme Court said it would hear the case on Wednesday and asked various attorneys to file letters by midday Monday on whether to close the courtroom, noting that "the usual practice is to keep the courtroom open."

On Monday, Perez's attorney, Hubert Santos, told the court that the hearing should be closed, saying his ability to argue against disclosure would be "inhibited if the proceedings before the Supreme Court are open to the press and public."

Three attorneys who have appeared before the grand jury Richard Brown, Stanley Twardy and Steven Seligman weighed in with letters arguing on behalf of an open courtroom only if the identities of their clients could be protected from public disclosure. All three have previously declined to identify their clients.

Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane took no position on whether the courtroom should be closed.

William Fish, an attorney for The Courant from the Hartford office of Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP, told the court in his letter that the court should be open. In an e-mail sent late Monday, the court's clerk informed the parties that the 3 p.m. Wednesday hearing would be open to the public. Oral arguments are scheduled for one hour.

Perez has been the focus of state investigators since the beginning of 2007. He was arrested in January and pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery, fabricating evidence and conspiracy to fabricate evidence relating to allegedly discounted work done on his home by city contractor Carlos Costa, who was also arrested and has pleaded not guilty.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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