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Court hearing today on bid to keep Deedy records sealed

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Circuit Judge Karen Ahn is scheduled to hear this afternoon a request by city prosecutors to keep confidential federal special agent Christopher Deedy’s court documents and exhibits seeking to dismiss his murder charge in a Waikiki shooting last year.

Deedy’s court filings include his request to throw out the charge because he was acting as a federal law enforcement officer. Filings also include the McDonald’s restaurant security video recordings of the shooting on the early morning of Nov. 5.

City prosecutors want the filings sealed, arguing that they were submitted in an attempt by Deedy’s attorneys to present evidence skewed in favor of the defense and generate news coverage that would taint potential jurors.

Deedy’s lawyer, Brook Hart, opposes the sealing of the documents. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, its television news partner Hawaii News Now and the online news site Hawaii Reporter also oppose the prosecution’s request.

Deedy, 28, of Arlington, Va., is charged with murdering Kollin Elderts, 23, of Kailua,  at the McDonald’s Kuhio Avenue restaurant. The State Department special agent was here to provide security for leaders of the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference.

City Deputy Prosecutor Janice Futa said in her written arguments that the filings are not related to the motion to dismiss. They “serve no purpose other than to get as much information before the public in as biased a fashion as possible to have the case ‘pre-judged’ in his favor before the actual trial,” she said.

“The tactic is clearly prejudicial to the state and must be curtailed if the integrity of the judicial process is to be preserved,” Futa said.   

Hart said the exhibits support the defense’s dismissal request because the surveillance videos show what happened between his client and Elderts.

Attorneys Jeffrey Portnoy and Elijah Yip representing the three news organizations said court records presumed to be  open to the public as a matter of constitutional law.  

“The state simply relies on conclusory allegations of harmful pretrial publicity,” the news media lawyers said.  “That is not enough to overcome the presumption of access.”

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