Progress presses to open bomb case– again

Lawyers for Media General, a 16-year-old defendant in the alleged teen bomb plot, and the commonwealth were in court today as Judge Paul Peatross reviewed whether there was still reason to keep the teen's case closed. The Daily Progress filed a motion that was heard August 1 to open the proceedings, files and transcripts.

Peatross suggested circumstances had changed since a May hearing in which the juvenile's attorney, David Bruns, requested the hearing be closed to spare the teen further trauma. "We have a young boy here trying to move on with his life," Bruns told the judge.

"I'm sympathetic that the young man wants to move on with his life," said Roman Lifson, the DP attorney. "I think that can be said for any defendant." Lifson argued that doesn't override the Constitutionaal presumption of openness.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Darby Lowe's main concern was that publicity about the trial and the evidence could hamper efforts to find an impartial jury. The case kicked off February 3 with a police press conference announcing the arrests of three students.

Comments from Lowe and Peatross suggest that a jury trial may not be in the teen's future, despite earlier indications that he would appeal his juvenile court conviction of conspiring to commit murder and blow up two high schools.

Bruns told the judge he didn't object to providing the results to the public. He and Lowe seemed to agree they didn't want the facts of the case out to the public.

"This press coverage is traumatizing," closed Bruns. He noted last week's trial of a 13-year-old defendant, and the possibility of another. "I think that's enough," he said. "This isn't some secret stuff going on in Guantanamo."

Peatross seemed inclined to open up at least some portion of the proceedings, and said he'd have an opinion in the next five days.

The Hook went to court in June, also moving to open the proceedings. Peatross declined that request.