Tennessee Judge Allows Parents’ Involvement in Lawsuit Seeking Release of Documents in Mass Shooting Case

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In a recent development, the ruling allows the parents to have a say in the potential release of the shooter’s writings and other evidence.

Tennessee Judge Allows Parents' Involvement in Lawsuit
Tennessee Judge Allows Parents’ Involvement in Lawsuit ( Photo: WILX )

Tennessee judge has granted permission to parents of students at Nashville’s Covenant School to participate in a lawsuit seeking the release of documents and records related to a mass shooting that occurred on March 27

Davidson County Chancery Court Judge I’Ashea Myles stated that the parents “stand in a unique position stepping into the shoes of their minor children” since the children themselves are not old enough to assert their own claims. The judge also approved the motions to intervene from The Covenant School and Covenant Presbyterian Church, which oversees the private Christian school where the tragic incident took place. Normally, as private entities, the church and school would be shielded from granting access to information gathered during the investigation.

The case revolves around requests for public records filed by gun rights advocates and news organizations. They are seeking the disclosure of the shooter’s writings, including potential journals and a suicide note, in order to gain insight into the motive behind the attack. Authorities have previously stated that the shooter, Audrey Hale, who was killed by the police, acted alone and that the massacre was carefully planned.

The legal claims have gained significance following Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s call for a special legislative session to address gun control

This raises the stakes of interpreting the shooter’s writings in the context of America’s ongoing issue with gun violence. The National Police Association, the Tennessee Firearms Association, and the Tennessean newspaper have separately sued after their open records requests were denied by the Metro Nashville Police Department, citing an exception in state law for pending criminal cases.

The plaintiffs argue that the exception does not apply in this case since the shooter was deceased and there is no pending criminal prosecution. Judge Myles has ordered the consolidation of the cases. Subsequently, the church, the school, and the affected families, including the parents of the deceased children, have requested involvement in the lawsuit. Covenant Presbyterian, in particular, believes its intervention is necessary to safeguard its interests and employees. The parents support this motion, expressing concerns about potential copycat attacks.

 

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