Stillwater News Press

Local News

September 4, 2012

Enid newspaper granted access to sealed records in perjury case

STILLWATER, Okla. — Members of the public and Enid News & Eagle were granted access Tuesday to records sealed in May in the perjury case of an Enid attorney in Major County.

Judge Richard Van Dyck granted a motion filed by the News & Eagle to intervene in the case titled State of Oklahoma v. Eric Edwards.

Van Dyck found there were grounds for the newspaper to intervene in the case. He also ruled records in the case should be unsealed and access given to the newspaper and the public.

“The court finds the newspaper has a First Amendment right to publish the news as it finds it,” Van Dyck said. “The public needs to know what its elected officials are up to. The public has a right to know.”

The judge said he was “very aware and very mindful of any appearance of impropriety.” Van Dyck said the public’s interest in knowing the truth was greater than the need to keep the records sealed, which would only “heighten suspicions.”

News & Eagle Publisher Jeff Funk said the newspaper was pleased with the judge’s decision.

“The criminal charge against attorney Eric Edwards should have been handled as other such charges are handled — with public records in open court,” he said.

“We hope other judges take note of this ruling. The court system was designed to serve the public, all Oklahomans, and criminal cases need to remain open to the public.

“When cases are improperly closed, it gives the appearance of favoritism or improper treatment,” he said. “With openness, Oklahomans can have greater confidence in their court system.”

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