In 2007, an Arapahoe County judge sealed an indictment in the case of a missing 6-year-old girl whom authorities determined had been dead for at least two years before her father, Aaron Thompson, reported her missing. The state Supreme Court ordered the indictment unsealed in 2008, allowing the public to learn the charges against Thompson. Thompson was convicted of fatal child abuse in 2009.
When Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant faced sexual assault charges in Vail in 2003, it took a media challenge to unseal an affidavit in which police laid out their case for an arrest. Bryant maintained his innocence, and prosecutors dropped the case in 2005.
A news media challenge led to last year's release of an arrest affidavit in a sexual assault case involving former Denver Broncos cornerback Perrish Cox. Cox was acquitted in March.
Defense attorneys and prosecutors routinely ask judges to keep some documents sealed, often because the documents contain information a jury won't hear at trial, said Denver criminal defense attorney Daniel Recht, who also argues First Amendment cases.
But Moore noted that some Colorado judges have sealed entire court dockets under the argument that the mere fact of media coverage will damage a case.
In his ruling to unseal documents in the Cox case, Douglas County District Judge Paul A. King rejected that notion. "There can be no presumption that everyone in the jury panel will read, follow and find important the media accounts in this case," King wrote.
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