There are several good reasons that criminal trials and the proceedings leading up to them are and should be a matter of public record.
Many of those same reasons apply to the ongoing case beginning its potentially long trek through the court system regarding the suspect in custody in connection to the Oct. 23 disappearance of 19-year-old Aniah Blanchard in Auburn.
Therefore the gag order in place immediately should be lifted.
Lee County District Judge Russell Bush agreed to the gag order, which sometimes is requested by the prosecution to protect evidence, witnesses and strategy in pursuing a stronger case or additional arrests. Sometimes, such an order is requested by the defendant to better ensure an unbiased jury pool or protect against perceived unfair publicity.
Regardless, public knowledge of basic facts related to this case and evidence that has already led to an arrest most often supersede any benefits to keeping them secret, and that could be true with this case.
Many factors surrounding the arrest and evidence against suspect Ibraheem Yazeed are clouded with secrecy that may or may not indicate how much of a danger to the public remains on the streets from which Blanchard was abducted.
Because of the gag order, records and discussion of evidence and suspicions normally already openly discussed or shared in public record are instead still sealed.
Hearings that are normally public have become closed proceedings.
Public record and open court hearings should not be seen as an obstacle to an investigation that faces these daily challenges in seeking justice, and the community is fully supportive and appreciative of our law enforcement and the prosecutors working hard to get killers off our streets.
That said, as stated previously, there are reasons court and court records normally are made public.
Those reasons should apply to this case and the public’s right to know, and thus, the gag order should be lifted.