Judge Sides with Reid & Hellyer Client in Releasing Court Records in Chelsea King Murder Case

March 9, 2010

Efforts by James J. Manning, Jr., a Senior Attorney with Reid & Hellyer, and Associate Attorney Scott Talkov have shed light into the past of the accused murderer in the high profile murder case sending shockwaves throughout Southern California and the country.

A judge ruled in favor of the San Diego Union-Tribune in its petition to make public a 2000 probation report about John Albert Gardner III, accused of murdering 17-year old Chelsea King of Poway after she went missing on February 25. The 2000 report stems from Gardner's previous conviction for molesting a 13-year old Rancho Bernardo girl.

The San Diego Superior Court released the report on Tuesday, March 9, 2010, a day after the hearing where Manning successfully argued in front of a judge for the report's release. Reid & Hellyer represented the San Diego Union-Tribune in its request for the report.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune:

Citing case law, San Diego Superior Court Judge David Danielsen said such documents, which are sealed 60 days after a defendant is sentenced on the original case, can be made public again after the defendant has been arrested.

The report shed light into the 2000 incident, his youth, family life and the opinion of a psychiatrist who evaluated Gardner, concluding that he held "significant predatory traits and is a danger to the community."

Questions arose as to whether making the report public was appropriate, but as NBC San Diego reported:

The San Diego Union-Tribune had petitioned the court for the release, and attorney Jim Manning (argued) that any right to confidentiality that Gardner had was legally voided by his subsequent arrest in the Chelsea King case....After hearing from the attorneys, Judge David Danielsen ordered the records unsealed, with a caveat that they would be redacted to remove some personal information about Gardner - including his driver's license and phone numbers - and any personal, identifying information about the victim in the case.

Gardner pleaded not guilty last week to the murder of 17-year old Chelsea King and the attempted rape of another woman in December.

Jim Manning began his career with Reid &Hellyer since he started practicing law in 1976 as an attorney specializing in media law, among other fields. With media clients throughout Southern California, he is considered a top resource for media organizations that seek to obtain public records.

Headquartered in Riverside, Reid & Hellyer has been serving the Inland Empire for more than 100 years as one of the most-respected full service law firms in Southern California, providing legal services in business and real estate litigation, real estate development, transactional and media law, bankruptcy, mediation and civil rights. Reid & Hellyer serves individual and business clients of national, regional and local prominence. Learn more at www.rhlaw.com

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