Judge orders release of Clark documents

Raymond Clark III seen exiting the New Haven Superior Court in September.
Raymond Clark III seen exiting the New Haven Superior Court in September. Photo by Taylor Lasley.

Most of the documents in the case of Raymond Clark III, who has been charged with the murder of Annie Le GRD ’13, will be released to the public this coming Thursday, a judge ruled Friday.

In the ruling, New Haven Superior Court Judge Roland Fasano said that because most of the information in the documents has already been publicized, the public deserves to see them. The released material will also include some new information, including speculation by police. The ultimate reason to unseal the documents, Fasano wrote, was to promote openness and transparency in the criminal courts. But to protect Clark’s right to a fair trial, Fasano excluded six pieces of the reports that he considers inflammatory, unfairly prejudicial or invasive of privacy.

“Clearly a blanket sealing of the affidavits, under the circumstances here, would not be appropriate,” he wrote. “However, there are limited portions of the arrest and search warrant affidavits that support a finding of an overriding interest in non-disclosure.”

The Hartford Courant moved last month to have the documents made public. The newspaper said it has a responsibility to access and report the information contained within the affidavits to the interested public. The New York Times, the Associated Press and the New Haven Register later joined the motion.

The defense argued that the international media coverage the high-profile murder case has received makes releasing the documents a threat to Clark’s receiving an impartial jury. The state also filed a motion in support of the defendant to keep the affidavits sealed at the request of Annie Le’s GRD ’13 family. The state then filed two extensions to keep search and arrest affidavits sealed until Nov. 17.

The Courant’s lawyer, Paul Guggina, countered that releasing the documents would not compromise a future jury since so much information about the case has already been publicized.

In his ruling today, Fasano nodded to both sides. Although he said Clark’s right to a fair trial takes precedent, the bulk of the information in the documents would not jeopardize that if released.

Those portions can be removed without compromising the remainder of the documents, he added. The justifications for each redaction will be specified under seal, he said, but not publicized because doing so would effectively release the information in question.

In an e-mail Sunday, Paul Guggina, the Hartford Courant’s attorney, said the newspaper is still deciding how to proceed from Fasano’s ruling, declining to comment further.

Joseph Lopez, an attorney for Clark, told the Associated Press he does not think his client would appeal. John Waddock, the state prosecutor in charge of the case, was not in his office Friday afternoon.

After Le’s body was found hidden behind a wall in the basement of the Yale research building at 10 Amistad St., Clark, a Yale animal lab technician, was arrested Sept. 17 and charged with her murder. He is being held at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Conn., on $3 million bond.

Clark is due back in court Dec. 21.

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