A New York Supreme Court judge has ruled against releasing evidence from the highly publicized case in which a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of unarmed black man Eric Garner. The decision was met with public outcry and nationwide protests, and several organizations including the NYCLU and the NAACP requested to unseal the case’s documents.
The New York Times reports that Justice William E. Garnett sided instead with the prosecution because the former groups failed to offer a compelling reason for public disclosure:
In his decision, Justice Garnett’s reasoning reflected his line of questioning in the hearing when he asked what each party would do with the documents if released. Ultimately, he ruled, the parties seeking disclosure had failed to establish a “compelling and particularized need” to make the grand jury minutes public.
The parties, Justice Garnett wrote in his conclusion, “merely ask for disclosure for distribution to the public.”
“This request is not a legally cognizable reason for disclosure,” he continued. “What would they use the minutes for? The only answer which the court heard was the possibility of effecting legislative change. That proffered need is purely speculative and does not satisfy the requirements of the law.”
The NYCLU plans to appeal the decision.