St. Louis court asked to reconcile conflicting World Series ticket scandal judgments

2013-12-04T00:30:00Z 2014-06-11T17:21:08Z St. Louis court asked to reconcile conflicting World Series ticket scandal judgmentsBy Jennifer S. Mann jmann@post-dispatch.com 314-621-5804 stltoday.com

ST. LOUIS • The state appeals court on Tuesday sent two cases back to the trial court to resolve disputes over whether records pertaining to the 2006 World Series ticket scandal should be released.

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing over access to the records, which detail the St. Louis police investigation of officers who used World Series Tickets that were seized from scalpers and stored as evidence. A group of officers is suing to keep the records closed.

The legal battle has centered on the circumstances by which privacy rights trump the state’s public records law.

St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Philip Heagney had in 2010 ordered 59 sealed investigative documents be released, finding police were trying to conceal the public records under the guise of Sunshine Law exemptions.

But after the officers sued, the judge placed his ruling in the initial case on hold. The police board then agreed in the officers’ suit to keep the records closed.

Those two conflicting judgments — Heagney’s order releasing the documents, and the board’s agreement not to — were presented to Eastern District appellate court judges last month.

In the rulings Tuesday, the appellate court asked the trial court take another stab at sorting out the differences.

The stay of Heagney’s order will remain in effect for six months, according to Tuesday’s rulings. And the consent judgment has been vacated.

The court noted that while the consent judgment “cannot be used as a reason not to enforce the June 7, 2010 judgment,” the two rulings this week were intended “to facilitate the determination of all related disputes in one proceeding.”

Neil Bruntrager, a lawyer for the officers, said he believes the ruling is instructing the three parties to make a record of their competing needs and ultimately find a balance by going through each document to determine what should be released and what should be kept private.

Attorneys for the former police board and the ACLU could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Eight officers were suspended and demoted after admitting to their role in the scandal.

Seven other officers — including a lieutenant and three sergeants — also faced unspecified discipline, and the department did not release their names.

Jennifer S. Mann covers state courts and the criminal justice system. Follow j_s_mann on Twitter.

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