Journalists Call Release of Ramsey Grand Jury Records A Win For The Public

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The release of grand jury documents from the JonBenet Ramsey murder investigation is a win for the public in seeing how its criminal justice system works, says the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, a plaintiff in the case seeking access. JonBenet was 6 years old when she was found dead in the basement of her family home the day after Christmas 1996. The high-profile case got unrelenting media coverage at the time and continues as a subject of interest as it remains unsolved. The grand jury investigating the murder disbanded in 1999, and the prosecutor declined to bring an indictment, citing lack of sufficient evidence. Boulder, Co., Daily Camera reporter Charlie Brennan continued to investigate, and this year reported that the grand jury had voted to indict JonBenet's parents but the prosecutor decided not pursue any charges.

The documents, however, remained sealed. Brennan and the Reporters Committee sought access to the records, and a district court in Boulder ruled that those 18 pages signed by the grand jury foreman and related to the indictment of JonBenet's parents should be public. “There is a very strong and legitimate public interest in access to grand jury documents in such a controversial case,” said Reporters Committee Executive Director Bruce Brown. “The public has a right to know what the grand jury did and how the prosecutor's office handled that information, particularly in a case that has gone unsolved for so many years.”

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