Charlie Brennan v. Stan Garnett - JonBenet Ramsey grand jury lawsuit
Posted in the JonBenet Ramsey Forum
#1 Sep 20, 2013
Here it is! What everyone wants to read!
DATE FILED: September 18, 2013 3:00 PM
FILING ID: C3C720A191B88
DISTRICT COURT, COUNTY OF BOULDER, STATE
Court Address: 1777 6th St.
P. O. Box 4249
Boulder, CO 80306
CHARLIE BRENNAN, an individual; and
REPORTERS COMMITTEE FOR FREEDOM OF
THE PRESS, an unincorporated association
COURT USE ONLY
STANLEY L. GARNETT, in his official capacity as the
District Attorney for the Twentieth Judicial District
Attorneys for Plaintiffs:
Thomas B. Kelley,#1971
Steven D. Zansberg,#26634
Christopher P. Beall,#28536
University of Colorado
#2 Sep 20, 2013
COMPLAINT AND APPLICATION FOR ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE
Plaintiffs, Charlie Brennan and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, by and
through their undersigned attorneys, for their Complaint against Defendant Stanley L. Garnett, in
his official capacity as the District Attorney for the Twentieth Judicial District, allege as follows:
This civil action, brought pursuant to the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act
(?CCJRA?),§ 24-72-301, et seq., C.R.S, seeks to secure access to a certain criminal justice
record from the custodian of the record, District Attorney Stanley L. Garnett (?Garnett?). The
record relates to the investigation by the Office of the District Attorney for the Twentieth
Judicial District and the Boulder Police Department into the death of JonBenét Ramsey on
December 26, 1996. On information and belief, Plaintiffs allege that Garnett has in his custody,
possession, or control a document purporting to be an indictment that was duly voted upon by
#3 Sep 20, 2013
the Grand Jury empaneled to investigate the murder of JonBenét Ramsey, and duly signed by the
Grand Jury foreperson, charging John Ramsey and Patsy Ramsey with the crime of child abuse
resulting in death, a Class 2 felony, pursuant to § 18-6-401(7)(a)(I), C.R.S., which has not been
officially disclosed to the public. There has been to date no official public acknowledgment of
this act by the grand jury, and no disclosure of the document that resulted. As more fully set
forth below, Plaintiffs seek, under the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act, the right to
inspect and copy the purported indictment in question, the disclosure of which would not be
contrary to the public interest.
JURISDICTION AND PARTIES
1. This Court has jurisdiction over the claims herein under the CCJRA.§ 24-72305(
2. Plaintiff Charlie Brennan (Brennan) is employed as a reporter for the
newspaper, the Boulder Daily Camera. He has regularly investigated and reported upon the
JonBenét Ramsey murder investigation. Brennan is a person as defined in the CCJRA.§ 2472-
3. Plaintiff Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) is an
unincorporated association of reporters and editors that has worked to defend First Amendment
rights and freedom of information interests of the news media since 1970. The RCFP is likewise
a person as defined in the CCJRA. Id.
#4 Sep 20, 2013
4. Garnett is the duly elected District Attorney for the Twentieth Judicial District,
State of Colorado. He is both the ?custodian? and the ?official custodian? of the criminal justice
record at issue in this case. See §§ 24-72-302(5) & (8), C.R.S.
5. The CCJRA affords to any person denied access to inspection of any criminal
justice record the right to apply to the district court in the district wherein the record is found for
an order directing the custodian of such record to show cause why said custodian should not
permit the inspection of the record. A hearing on such application must be held at the earliest
practical time, and,[u]nless the court finds that the denial of inspection was proper, it shall
order the custodian to permit such inspection.?§ 24-72-305(7), C.R.S.
#5 Sep 20, 2013
BACKGROUND OF CURRENT CONTROVERSY
6. On December 26, 1996, JonBenét Ramsey, age 6, was found dead in the basement
of her family's home in Boulder, Colorado. An autopsy and initial investigation indicated death
was caused by violent means. Since that occurrence, and continuing until this day, the case has
been the subject of massive publicity, including television appearances by the girl's parents, John
and Patsy Ramsey, and two published books concerning the events of the investigation written
by John Ramsey. To date, no one has been brought to court for criminal responsibility for
7. On August 12, 1998, then-Governor Roy Romer and then-District Attorney for
the Twentieth Judicial District Alex Hunter (?Hunter?) announced that the Ramsey murder case
would be investigated by a Grand Jury to be empaneled by this Court of the Twentieth Judicial
District. Shortly thereafter, that Grand Jury was empaneled, sworn, and charged, and thereafter
supervised by this Court.
8. On information and belief, on a date shortly prior to October 13, 1999, the Grand
Jury voted in favor of an indictment of JonBenét Ramsey's parents, John Ramsey and Patsy
Ramsey, for the crime of child abuse resulting in death, a Class 2 felony pursuant to § 18-6401(
7)(a)(I), C.R.S. Also on information and belief, a written indictment (the Indictment) was
prepared for and signed by the Grand Jury foreperson. However, Hunter elected not to sign the
Indictment, and not to present it to the District Court, but to keep the Indictment secret from the
#6 Sep 20, 2013
9. On October 13, 1999, the Grand Jury investigating the death of JonBenét Ramsey
was discharged, and Hunter announced we believe we do not have sufficient evidence to
warrant a filing of charges against anyone who has been investigated at this time. Steven K.
Paulson, No Charges in JonBenet Case, WASH. POST (Oct. 13, 1999),
announcement left the public with the clear impression that the Grand Jury had determined not to
indict anyone in connection with the death of JonBenét. A true and correct copy of the
October 13, 1999 article is attached as Ex. 1.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE RECORDS REQUEST
THAT GAVE RISE TO THIS LITIGATION
10. On or about March 13, 2013, Brennan sent an e-mail addressed to Garnett
requesting, pursuant to the Colorado Open Records Law,§ 24-72-201, et seq., C.R.S., and the
CCJRA,§ 24-72-301, et seq., C.R.S., the opportunity to inspect and copy records described as:
A true bill, or indictment, returned by the Boulder County Grand Jury in October
1999, pursuant to that body's investigations and deliberations into the December
1996 death of JonBenét Ramsey.
#7 Sep 20, 2013
Brennan further requested that in the event his request for inspection was denied, he be provided
with a written statement of all grounds for the denial. A true and correct copy of the March 13,
2013 e-mail is attached as Ex. 2.
11. On March 18, 2013, Karen Lorenz (?Lorenz?), Chief Deputy District Attorney for
the Twentieth Judicial District, wrote to Brennan denying his request to inspect the Indictment.
The grounds cited were that public disclosure of records such as that described in Brennan's
request would be contrary to Colorado Rule of Criminal Procedure 6.2, providing that grand jury
proceedings are secret, and that accordingly the disclosure of the documents would be contrary
to law and therefore the public interest. A true and correct copy of the March 18, 2013 letter is
attached as Ex. 3.
12. On June 27, 2013, Thomas B. Kelley (?Kelley?), as attorney for Brennan, and
also as attorney for RCFP, wrote Garnett requesting that he reconsider the position taken by
Lorenz in her March 18, 2013 letter. Kelley?s letter contended on behalf of his clients that:
(1) the Indictment that was voted upon, prepared for, and signed by the foreperson of the Grand
Jury was a record of official action that must be disclosed under the CCJRA; or, alternatively,
(2) the Indictment at least warranted the status of a grand jury report, which should be submitted
to this Court for consideration of disclosure to the public. The letter further argued that to the
extent the District Attorney is authorized to prevent an indictment from going forward by
refusing to sign it, his actions in taking such action should be fully disclosed to the public. By
this letter RCFP joined in Mr. Brennan's original request to inspect the Indictment, as explicated
in the Kelley letter. A true and correct copy of the June 27, 2013 letter is attached as Ex. 4.
13. On July 1, 2013, Sean P. Finn, Chief Trial Deputy/Custodian of Records for the
Office of the District Attorney for the Twentieth Judicial District (Finn), responded to Kelley's
letter, acknowledging the different views on the subject of whether an indictment voted upon,
prepared by or for the Grand Jury, and signed by its foreperson is an indictment that should
publicly be disclosed. Finn expressed respect for the views of Hon. Judge Sherman G. Finesilver
of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado with respect to an indictment that was
prepared by a grand jury and signed by its foreman but unsigned by the prosecutor; Judge
Finesilver had held that such a document would not be treated as a public document but instead
be treated as a grand jury report subject to disclosure at the discretion of the court. However, in
this letter the District Attorney through Finn expressly disclaimed any determination that
#8 Sep 20, 2013
disclosure of the Indictment was contrary to the public interest, using this language:
While we have ultimately decided that we must refuse your request, we have
found many of your arguments persuasive, and we have taken seriously your
request that we reconsider the question of what is required by the public interest
in these unusual circumstances. This office has spoken with Chief Beckner of the
Boulder Police Department in order to determine whether, in the view of his
Department, the release of documents like the ones you describe could hamper
ongoing or future investigations. He believes there is no such risk. As such, our
refusal to provide these documents is based solely upon our concerns regarding
the legality of such a disclosure. This decision should not be interpreted as an
exercise of our discretion pursuant to § 24-72-305[,] C.R.S. Thus the letter took the position that the question of whether the Indictment should be made
available for inspection and copying should be decided by the Court and not the Office of the
District Attorney. A true and correct copy of the July 1, 2013 letter is attached as Ex. 5.
#9 Sep 20, 2013
14. The Plaintiffs believe, for reasons recited in the Kelley letter of June 27, 2013,
that the Indictment is a criminal justice record that reflects official action by the Grand Jury, and
accordingly that it is subject to mandatory disclosure upon request pursuant to §§ 24-72-303 &
304, C.R.S. Alternatively, the Plaintiffs submit that the Indictment should be treated as a report
by the Grand Jury, which is subject to disclosure and should be disclosed at the direction of this
Court pursuant to § 16-5-205.5(5)(d), C.R.S. Alternatively, they argue that the Indictment
should be disclosed to the public because such disclosure would serve the public interest in
government transparency and not be contrary to the public interest nor cause undue adverse
effect upon the privacy of any individual. For all of these reasons, this Court should order the
Indictment to be disclosed to Plaintiffs, an order that would ensure its disclosure to the public.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs, Charlie Brennan and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the
Press, pursuant to § 24-72-305(7), C.R.S., respectfully pray that:
The Court enter an order directing the Defendant to show cause why the
Defendant should not permit their inspection and copying of the Indictment;
The Court conduct a hearing pursuant to such order ?at the earliest practical time?
as required by § 24-72-305(7), C.R.S., and after such hearing to make the Show
Cause Order absolute;
The Court convene a status conference to establish a schedule for briefing and
evidence disclosure prior to the hearing so that the Court may be fully informed
before the hearing begins.
#10 Sep 20, 2013
Dated: September 18, 2013.
By s/ Thomas B. Kelley
Thomas B. Kelley
Steven D. Zansberg
Christopher P. Beall
Attorneys for Plaintiffs
Charlie Brennan and Reporters Committee
for Freedom of the Press
THIS PLEADING WAS FILED WITH THE COURT THROUGH ICCES,
UNDER C.R.C.P. 121(C),§ 1-26.
#11 Sep 20, 2013
One of Charlie's lawyers, Marianne aka "Mimi" Wesson is a CU Law Professor who was on TV numerous times during the first three years of this case, explaining legal issues and she played herself in "Perfect Murder, Perfect Town, the TV movie.
Since: Jul 10
#12 Sep 20, 2013
"Alternatively, they argue that the Indictment
should be disclosed to the public because such disclosure would serve the public interest in
government transparency and not be contrary to the public interest nor cause undue adverse effect upon the privacy of any individual."
That could be a problem if the GJ concluded Burke caused the head injury. Because he was a juvie his right to privacy eclipsed all others, even does to this day.
#13 Sep 20, 2013
Just a reminder, or an FYI to people that don't know about Colorado's grand jury secrecy law. It's is one of the most onerous in the country. It is a relic of the past, and NOT the way grand juries are run in most jurisdictions. For example, at the same time the Ramsey grand jury was taking place, the Monica Lewinsky matter was playing out in Washington, D.C. In our nation's capital, witnesses testified before the grand jury, and then went out before the cameras and microphones and told everyone what they had testified to. The Colorado grand jury secrecy law is against the trend of greater transparency by government, because, as has been learned, with most things labeled secret, a lot of coverups are behind that secrecy, like pedophile priests in civil suits.
Darnay went all the way up to the US Supreme Court to overturn Colorado's onerous grand jury secrecy law. He won at the 10th Circuit level, and then Lacy, Bill Nagel and company freaked, and had it overturned. We all know why now, this huge and outrageous coverup, once exposed, would have caused a firestorm, and it did. That whole antiquated law needs to be abolished, so the Alex Hunter's can't have one standard of JUST US for rich people and another for the poor who can't afford a multi million dollar legal scheme team.
Since: Oct 08
Grande Prairie, Canada
#14 Sep 20, 2013
I think I agree with Plaintiffs arguments. This seems winnable to me, and I hope it is won. I dont really know if thats going to give us what we want. Maybe all well end up with is a copy of the indictment merely showing who voted what and specifics of the charges, etc. and not necessarily any explanation or rationale and no transcripts of testimony, etc.
“Sandy Stranger killed JonBenet”
Since: Jan 08
Not Boulder, Co.
#15 Sep 20, 2013
What we may get is what led the GJ to vote to indict both John and Patsy for neglect leading to death, meaning somebody did something bad in that house that night and a child died so throw some mud on a wall and see what sticks.
Remember folks the GJ pool is BOULDER COLORADO.
Brennan is a reporter trying to uncover what the legal system did, not who did what between John and Patsy.
THE F*CKING LEGAL SYSTEM SCREWED THE CASE AND THE F*CKING GJ MEMBERS ARE BOULDERITES!!!!!!
Brennan's efforts will do NOTHING to further the case.
This message brought to you by a 55 year resident of Colorado NOT a Boulderite.
Since: Jul 10
#16 Sep 21, 2013
The indictment of John & Patsy Ramsey for Jonbenet's death wasn't for neglect, it was specific for 'child abuse leading to death'. They are different in the eyes of the law. They did something to her body - put a cord around her neck and tightened it, even if they thought she was already dead they still killed her. Neglect implies something they didn't do, it's more passive.
The indictment would be a lengthly document. It's release would answer many questiones but not necessarily lead to any further action by the DA.
#17 Sep 21, 2013
You are right of course, child abuse not neglect. I knew that.
#18 Sep 21, 2013
I don't understand why Garnett is the custodian of the case file, when BPD is the investigative agency in this case. That's never happened before now. Every other time, the investigative agency was the custodian of the case file. My guess is Garnett WANTED it to be able to be in CONTROL to say NO, we aren't "wasting" any more time and money on this case. He has done THE LEAST of all 3 DA's, and that is a TERRIBLE track record.
They are so gutless and can't think outside the box in Boulder. Arapahoe County jurors and the DA convicted Aaron Thompson of 31 of 55 counts EVEN THOUGH THEY DON'T HAVE THE BODY OF THE VICTIM, even though neither rotten parent flipped on the other, even though no one knows what happened exactly to cause the death of Aarone, except the fact that she's dead, and she died at the hands of her parents in her own home. SOUND FAMILIAR? Molly and Alex Midyette were convicted even though they refused to cooperate and say what happened, and no one knows how Jason specifically got 37 broken bones, just the fact that he was gravely injured in the custody of his parents.
#19 Sep 21, 2013
Oh, I think I answered my own question. I believe Garnett is the custodian of the case file to placate Lin Wood. If you recall, Lin Wood went nuclear when it came out in 2010 WHEN GARNETT WAS RUNNING FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL, that cops wanted to interview Burke. Wood threatened Chief Beckner, and I'll bet Garnett stepped in to avoid a lawsuit, and proved he has less guts than even Alex Hunter but totally throwing the entire case since then and doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING FOR JUSTICE FOR JONBENET. Why doesn't the press get on THIS story and find out why Garnett has done THE LEAST, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for JonBenet in almost 5 years in office?
Since: Jul 10
#20 Sep 21, 2013
Could be Garnett had to keep control so the BPD couldn't release the indictment - to protect Burke.
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