KATC TV-3 and our media partners at Capital City Press, publishers of The Advocate, have joined together to ask the court to unseal a settlement in the Victor White case.
White died in the back seat of an Iberia Parish Sheriff’s vehicle, while handcuffed and in custody. Several investigations reached the conclusion that he had a weapon and shot himself in the chest; in part on the strength of a video taken earlier that night that showed him moving his hands, which were handcuffed behind his back, to the front of his body to adjust his trousers.
White’s family, including the mother of his child, filed suit against the sheriff’s office in federal court over White’s death. That suit was dismissed in March, after a settlement was reached. To read that story, click here.
Today, Capital City Press and KATC filed documents to intervene in the case. In those documents, the media outlets ask the court to unseal the terms of the settlement.
"Respectfully, the Court’s ORder sealing the settlement violates the public’s right of access to Court proceedings under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and acknowledged federal common law," the documents state.
The settlement also must be unsealed under the Louisiana Constitution and the Louisiana Public Records Law, the documents allege.
"To the extent this Court’s Order prohibits a public body from complying with its duty to permit public inspection of the expenditure of public funds, the Order is contrary to the well-established right of the citizens of Louisiana to obtain information regarding the actions of their government, including information "concerning teh receipt or payment of any money received or paid by or under the authority of the constitution or laws of this state," the documents state.
The documents were filed by the firm of Sternberg, Naccari & White LLC of New Orleans.