Attorneys to list why Covenant shooter's documents should not go public

Court allowing school, church voice in decision
Posted at 4:07 PM, May 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-26 05:09:48-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The parties in The Covenant School lawsuit had until midnight on Wednesday to explain what exceptions to public records laws that would allow them to withhold documents from the public.

Those parties include the Metropolitan government, The Covenant School, Covenant Presbyterian Church and the Covenant families.

The court granted motions for The Covenant School, Covenant Presbyterian Church and families to intervene in the discussion over the release of documents written by the shooter. While they will not be responsible for the final decision, their opinion will be allowed in the legal discussion over the matter.

This comes after a hearing on Monday discussing the case. The exceptions will be discussed at a show cause hearing on June 8, 2023.

The shooting, which happened nearly two months ago, claimed the life of six people — including three 9-year-olds.

The argument revolves around who should have a say in what documents can be released to the public. Five different groups petitioned the court asking for the release of all the shooter's documents: Tennessee Firearms Association, National Police Association, the Tennessee Star, The Tennessean newspaper, and state Sen. Todd Gardenhire. All five of those requests have now been consolidated into one court case.

But not everyone supports releasing all the documents. Both The Covenant School, Church and the families want to keep some of the documents private.

The parents argue none of the documents should be released. They worry it could lead to another school shooting. Both the church and the school are primarily focused on documents related to their employees or information about the campus itself. They want to be sure no maps or drawings of the buildings are released. They argue that could once again endanger students and staff on campus.

The judge heard from all of them during a hearing on Monday. At the center of the argument is who qualifies as a victim in this case. Attorneys for Covenant argued both the school and the church are victims in this case, and they should have a say in what is released. Attorneys for the other side argue they are not victims and should not have a say in how the documents are handled.

Experts tell NewsChannel 5 that despite the lawsuits, the police files, in this case, should be open to the public. They argue that because police aren't actively charging a suspect, the records should be released to the public.

Metro police have been advised not to release the documents right now. The case will continue to make its way through the courts.