Tennessee judge says families can object to release of Nashville shooter's manifesto

Parents of the students who attend the Nashville Christian school where Audrey Hale killed six people back in March have been seeking to prevent the release of Hale’s writings which have been repeatedly referred to as a manifesto.


Attorney Eric Osborne, who says he’s representing 100 of the 112 families at the Christian elementary school, told the court on Monday parents fear the killers’ manifesto could lead to another massacre.

“Writings like this tend to inspire additional school shootings,” Osborne said, adding that the safety of the school and others like it were at the forefront of the families’ concerns…

However, attorney Robb Harvey, representing The Tennessean media outlet — one of the entities suing the Metro Nashville Police Department to publish the manifesto — slammed their request as unprecedented…

Along with the parents’ opposition, representatives for the Covenant School and church also argued they should be allowed to weigh in on the issue.

Wednesday, a judge ruled that those parents have standing to object to the release of the manifesto and set a hearing to argue whether these documents will ever see the light of day.

Davidson County Chancery Court Judge I’Ashea L. Myles ruled on Wednesday that the parents of students who were killed or traumatized by the March 27 massacre at the Covenant School have a legal standing to intervene on behalf of their children in lawsuits requesting evidence, including the shooter’s writings, be released to the public.

“There’s no roadmap on this,” Deborah Fisher, executive director of the Tennessee Coalition on Open Government, a nonprofit that advocates for transparency in government, told ABC News…

“Let me be clear, what would create a slippery slope is if she (Myles) decides that victims have a right to prevent access to police records,” Fisher said. “I think we’re about to hear, according to what the lawyers said, testimony from witnesses that say why the writings of mass shooters should not be released.”


This judge seems to be making it up as she goes. Some who have seen the documents claim they include detailed plans for attacking the school developed by Hale over several months.

Metro Nashville Council Member Courtney Johnston confirmed to The Post the FBI has already ruled the manifesto would not be released any time soon.

“What I was told is, her manifesto was a blueprint on total destruction, and it was so, so detailed at the level of what she had planned,” she said, when reached by phone.

“That document in the wrong person’s hands would be astronomically dangerous,” she added.

Johnston said “parts” of Hale’s writings would eventually come out, but added she feels “the vast, overwhelming majority of it,” presented too much of a danger to the public.

I guess I could see redacting or restricting information that Hale gathered which could potentially make the school vulnerable to another attack or which could give specific instructions to other would-be shooters.  However, I’m probably not alone in wondering if this isn’t just an excuse to avoid releasing statements that would indicate what motivated Hale to do this. Police still haven’t released a motive but as I’ve pointed out before, Hale specifically told someone before the attack that it would all make more sense once people had seen her writings.


Supposedly, the parents who are objecting to the release haven’t even seen the contents of the manifesto. They claim to be concerned about copycat attacks based solely on what they’ve heard from authorities (statements like the excerpts above).

“We are grateful for the opportunity to enter this case on behalf of our children and loved ones,” Brent Leatherwood, the lone Covenant School parent who attended the Monday hearing, said in a statement. “Our intention is to safeguard our families and do all we can to prevent this horror from spreading to any other community.”…

In her ruling, Chancellor Myles noted that there was little precedent in Tennessee for such an intervention, but she cited the legal protections offered to juvenile records, the attention on the case and the fact that children were targeted among her reasons for ruling in favor of the parents.

The judge also agreed to allow the Covenant School and the Covenant Presbyterian Church to intervene, finding that both institutions had “a sufficient personal stake” to warrant the opportunity to argue over the release of the writings.

Again, there may be some limited information that should not be released but my memory of this is that Hale shot out the glass near the front door and just walked inside. I don’t think it takes any special knowledge or planning to know that glass can be broken with bullets. Beyond that, the parents should not have the right to withhold information from the public. The shooter in this case is dead so there’s no future trial to worry about compromising here. The public deserves to know what motivated this attack.


Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Trending on HotAir Videos