ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — The judge presiding over the Capital Gazette murder trial unsealed some documents in the case but ordered others still be kept from public view after the newspaper’s attorney demanded more transparency in the case. 

Lawyer Nathan Siegel said a hearing Tuesday allowed the public to rightfully obtain more information about the proceedings.

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“The whole point of access rules is that it’s the interest of the public — not the interest of the parties — that the law favors,“ Siegel said.

Many of the documents that remain under seal include reports about defendant Jarrod Ramos’ mental health.

Ramos pleaded guilty to carrying out an attack on the Capital Gazette newsroom on June 28, 2018, that killed five people: Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters.

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The next phase of the trial will determine whether he is criminally responsible by reason of insanity. Jury selection is scheduled for March 4, 2020.

Judge Laura Ripken said many of the documents currently under seal would be made public following that trial.

“We have a professional responsibility not to disseminate to the public information that could affect the jury pool,” said Ramos’ attorney Elizabeth Palen. 

Palen also argued — without providing examples — that some of the coverage of the trial was inaccurate. “We’re not collaborating to make everything confidential,“ she said. “I think we have an obligation to make sure the public has access, but we also want to provide Mr. Ramos with an impartial jury and a fair proceeding.“

Ramos was in the courtroom but said little. Prosecutors say he sought revenge on the newspaper because of a story about his harassment of a former high school classmate. He blocked the exit and stormed into the newsroom with a shotgun.

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Anne Arundel County state’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess told the judge she worries about a possible appeal of any verdict if certain information became public before the trial was over. “Mr. Ramos does not need to be tried in the press unfairly,” she said. “He should be tried in this courtroom.”

Anne Arundel County uses the state’s electronic filing system and lawyers can mark documents “confidential” and shield them from the public.

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Some jurisdictions like Baltimore City do not currently file paperwork on that system, but it is becoming more widespread statewide.

Judge Ripken told the defense and prosecution in this case, they must now file a separate motion to seal those documents if they want them to remain out of public view.

“It is not this court’s impression that either side is trying to keep anything secret… All the lawyers are trying to make sure a fair trial ensues,“ Ripken said.

She said she did take into account pre-trial publicity in her decision on what documents to seal—as well as any documents that contained confidential informant information.

The voir dire information will become public, but documents like the pre-trial jury questionnaire will remain private—as well as Ramos’ mental competency evaluation from the state-run Clifton T. Perkins Hospital. 

The Capital Gazette’s attorney argued the report was “integral to the case” and should not be hidden from the public.

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“Often the most crucial decisions are made before this even gets to a jury, and the public has a right to know,“ Siegel said.