News Groups Again Try to Open Testimony in St. Luke's Case
Several news organizations are appealing a judge's ruling that some testimony from the trial of Boise, Idaho-based St. Luke's Health System could remain closed from public access to protect trade secrets, according to an Idaho Statesman report.
The antitrust case involving defendant St. Luke's and the Federal Trade Commission and Boise-based Saint Alphonsus Health System as plaintiffs went to trial Sept. 23. U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill issued a pretrial order that closed public access to the courtroom for some testimony, purportedly to protect the trade secrets of the parties involved.
In October, The Idaho Statesman, The Times-News, The Associated Press, the Idaho Press-Tribune and the Idaho Press Club filed a motion to intervene and keep proceedings open to the public. Judge Winmill ruled some documents could remain concealed if attorneys showed a "compelling" reason for closing public access.
Trial came to a close Thursday, but the news organizations filed a request yesterday for all witness testimony and exhibits in the trial to be made public. They claim more than half of the first seven days of testimony occurred behind closed doors, according to the report, and more than 575 exhibits were sealed.
Charles Brown, an attorney representing the news organizations, said Judge Winmill did not require lawyers to furnish a compelling reason why trade secrets overruled the public's right to know, according to the report. Rather, Mr. Brown claims the parties' arguments "routinely just set forth the entity's desires and opinions as to what it wants to be removed from public view, but none of them reveal to this court nor the lower court 'compelling reasons' to do so," according to the report.
In separate but related news, earlier this week Judge Winmill called the case one of the most difficult he's had to rule on. A decision is expected before Christmas.
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