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Va. justices rule trial exhibits improperly sealed

Thursday - 2/28/2013, 12:18pm  ET

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- The Virginia Supreme Court says a judge improperly denied a newspaper access to trial exhibits.

The unanimous ruling Thursday is a victory for The Daily Press of Newport News, which challenged an order sealing the exhibits. Justice William Mims wrote that the lower court failed to cite a specific, compelling governmental interest for denying public access to the materials.

The case stemmed from a felony child neglect and murder case against a woman and her boyfriend. One defendant had been convicted but the other had not yet been tried when the newspaper sought access to the case file. The judge sealed the exhibits because of concerns about prejudicing the second trial, but the Supreme Court said those concerns were speculative.

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