Judge's sealing of records raises concerns

The records were sealed to protect the innocent. But was it legal?

CREATED Jul 6, 2013

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 BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. (AP) -- A Jackson County judge says he sealed the identities of defendants in three criminal cases to protect the innocent.

However, an Eau Claire Leader-Telegram report says the move has raised concerns about the public's right to know.
 
Several other judges and a media legal expert say nothing in state law allows the names of the defendants to be sealed in these particular cases. One free-speech attorney says the move appears to be illegal.
 
But Judge Thomas Lister counters that he has "the inherent power to protect the rights of innocent people." He says he sealed the cases at the request of district attorney Gerald Fox.
 
Fox says he doesn't remember two cases, and in the third a misdemeanor charge shouldn't have been filed to begin with. He says he was correcting an error.