LOUISVILLE, Ky. — During former Louisville Metro Police Department Detective Brett Hankison's pre-trial conference Wednesday morning, Judge Ann Bailey Smith heard arguments about whether or not the court should reverse its order to place discovery for the case into the court file.
What You Need To Know
- AG's office, Hankison's attorney ask court to reconsider decision to place discovery into the court file
- Assistant Attorney General Barbara Whaley expressed concerns about prejudicing potential jurors
- Courier-Journal intervened; Attorney says public has a right to see the evidence in this case
- Next pre-trial conference set for Jan. 20
Ahead of Wednesday's conference, the Attorney General's Office, along with Hankison's attorney Stewart Matthews, asked the court to reconsider its decision and instead keep the discovery sealed. The Courier-Journal, represented by attorney Michael Abate, motioned to intervene.
At the conference, Assistant Attorney General Barbara Whaley asked the court to either reconsider and revoke its order that the discovery be filed in the court record or order the discovery filed in the record be sealed until a jury is seated for Hankison's case, citing concerns about biasing potential jurors.
"At this point, there's already been a lot of information almost daily in the media; however if the disocvery is filed in the record, and then becomes published, that will multiply and intensify the amount of information that is out in the public about the case," Whaley argued.
Abate, during his arguments, responded by saying, "The public has a right and a need to see not only the evidence in this case, how the attorney general and the Commonwealth have handled the prosecution."
He said that in a case like this one, it's "compelling" for the public to see and understand what information is being used to pursue charges or not.
Abate argued that it's still compelling before a jury is seated due to the high profile nature of the case. He also addressed Whaley's concerns about prejudicing jurors, saying it would be hard to find 12 jurors who have not already heard about this case and the jury selection process shouldn't be used to hide further information.
Judge Smith said the Attorney General's Office is responsible for some of the publicility surrounding the case.
"I find it hard to accept your arguments in total because I don't see you coming with clean hands," Judge Smith said.
Judge Smith cited Attorney General Daniel Cameron's press conference following the grand jury's announcement, entries on the attorney general's website about evidence in the case, and more.
"It seems to me Ms. Whaley that what the Attorney General's Office is trying to do here is to only let out certain information that the attorney general wants released," she said.
Whaley argued there is material in the discovery that's relevant to Hankison as he prepares for trial but is not currently public. After Judge Smith asked for examples, Whaley cited material from the federal investigation into the March 13 death of Breonna Taylor, laboratory reports, and Hankison's personnel file. Judge Smith questioned how these reports would be prejudicial for potential jurors.
"Potential jurors would not be able to set aside this amount of detail in the public record and be able to magically state that they can be fair and impartial with all of this knowledge out there," Whaley argued.
"It is not simply enough to know what ultimately comes before the jury by watching the trial to decide if the case is being handled in a fair and appropriate manner," said Abate as the conference concluded. "It's also understanding what else is out there, not presented, not followed up on."
Judge Smith did not make a ruling about whether or not to reverse the court's decision.
Hankison, the only officer involved in the death of Taylor to face charges, is charged with three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree for bullets shot into an adjacent apartment. His next pre-trial conference date is set for Wednesday, Jan. 20 at 10:30.