|Hearst wants government to explain conduct in baseball drugs case|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 04 January 2008 17:09|
In a four-page brief filed Friday with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Hearst said the government ``may have been violating the very same sealing order it was defending'' when it gave former Senate majority leader George Mitchell permission to publish the names of players accused of using performance-enhancing drugs by Radomski. Hearst contends they were the same names contained in the affidavit of IRS Special Agent Jeff Novitzky.
When Novitzky's December 2005 affidavit was initially made public in April, names of the players he implicated were blacked out. Hearst, on behalf of the San Francisco Chronicle and Albany Times Union, went to court in June asking that the complete affidavit be made public.
The U.S. attorney's office in San Francisco and the Major League Baseball Players Association opposed the request, and in September U.S. District Judge Thomas C. Platt in Central Islip ruled there was no public right to the names. Hearst then appealed.
On Dec. 20, seven days after Mitchell's report on drug use in baseball was released, a federal court in New York unsealed the affidavit at the request of the government. The same day, a federal court in Phoenix unsealed another Novitzky affidavit involving pitcher Jason Grimsley, and the U.S. attorney asked the circuit court to dismiss Hearst's appeal, saying the case was moot.
Although the government told the district court in its unsealing motion that Radomski's ``cooperation is now substantially complete,'' Hearst said the government earlier told the district court the statement should be kept secret because it needed cooperation of those named in the affidavit.
Hearst and the MLBPA also are upset they never had the chance to respond to the motion to unseal the affidavit.
``This represents yet another instance of the government playing fast and loose with the courts and the rights of others,'' Hearst said.
The affidavit contained the names of several players not named in the Mitchell Report, including Sid Fernandez and Pete Rose Jr. The players' association said those players' ``privacy interests have therefor been seriously invaded without notice or hearing'' and that the government made an ``end run'' by asking Magistrate Judge E. Thomas Boyle to unseal the statement rather than Platt.
Hearst wants the case sent back to district court for the government to explain why it didn't give notice of its motion to unseal and ``to account for the disparity between its representations to the court.'' The union asked that the case be sent to district court for additional proceedings that court considers ``appropriate.''
``The public's right of access cannot coexist with government efforts to limit or control disclosure of judicial records through means of selective disclosure, much less where premised on representations that cannot be squared with the facts,'' Hearst said.
Calls to the U.S. attorney's office and a lawyer for the MLBPA were not immediately returned.