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State's Attorney Seeks To Keep 911 Calls Secret



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NEW BRITAIN — Through an appeal filed October 30 in New Britain Superior Court, the Danbury state’s attorney is seeking to keep secret the recordings of the Emergency 911 calls that were made from Sandy Hook School to the Newtown Police Department on December 14, 2012, when 27 people died in a school shooting incident.

In the legal papers, Danbury State’s Attorney Stephen J. Sedensky III seeks to have the court overturn the state Freedom of Information Commission’s (FOIC) September decision to have the Town of Newtown release to the Associated Press (AP) the 911 calls that the AP had requested under the terms of the FOI Act, but did not receive from the town.

(See the state's attorney's application for a stay of the commission's order and the memo regarding that application.)

Newtown officials have cited protecting the privacy of the families of the shooting victims as the rationale for not disclosing the 911 calls.

In the court documents, Mr Sedensky claims that the 911 calls should remain undisclosed because revealing them would, in effect, amount to: the illegal disclosure of records of child abuse; the illegal intimidation of the victims/witnesses to the crimes committed in the school; and the illegal disclosure of statements made by the victims/witnesses to criminal activity.

In conjunction with his appeal that the 911 calls remain secret, Mr Sedensky is seeking to have the court allow those calls to remain undisclosed while the appeal is pending in Superior Court.

The FOIC’s decision to uphold the AP’s request for disclosure of the 911 calls from Sandy Hook School to the Newtown Police Department violates applicable state law, Mr Sedensky argues.

Those 911 calls were made by intended crime victims, and by witnesses to crimes which include murder, attempted murder, and risk of injury to a minor, he states.

Mr Sedensky cites a long list of the FOIC’s legal errors in making it disclosure ruling. He lists 28 separate legal reasons why the FOIC erred. In September, the FOIC adopted the recommendation of its hearing officer and ordered that the 911 calls be disclosed.

Through the legal action, Mr Sedensky seeks to have the court reverse the unanimous decision of the FOIC, and thus allow the 911 calls to remain secret.

After the FOIC decided the town must disclose the 911 recordings, Mr Sedensky had said he would appeal the decision in Superior Court.

Based on the issues raised in the legal documents, whether the 911 calls are public information, and thus  should be disclosed, is potentially appealable to the Connecticut Supreme Court.

The New Britain Superior Court appeal has a November 19 court return date. Mr Sedensky is listed as the plaintiff and the FOIC, the AP, and Jack Gillum of the AP are listed as defendants.

Mr Sedensky is writing a report for publication on the findings of the state police investigation into the 12/14 incidents. That report is expected sometime this fall.

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