Seattle City Council member Richard McIver, who has been living away from his wife Marlaina Kiner-McIver since his arrest for alleged domestic violence last month, was back in court this morning for a pre-trial hearing. Kiner-McIver was not present. Most of the hearing was taken up with debate over which materials should be released to the press prior to the trial, scheduled to start Dec. 10. (McIver has plead not guilty to fourth-degree assault.)
Attorneys for the Seattle PI argued that statements from witnesses obtained the night McIver was arrested as well as eight to nine minutes of audio and videotape taken from inside a police cruiser should be allowed under the state's open records law. McIver's attorney said the tape was obtained illegally, violated his client's right to privacy and could infringe on his right to a fair trial. He also warned against trying the case in the press, adding that Kiner-McIver also has specific privacy concerns with the public release of the tape and the witness statements-- and that the police had assured her this information would be kept private.
The judge sided with the PI, saying that McIver had not met the rare circumstance necessary for the materials to be held. She plans to issue an order this afternoon detailing what specifically should be released. But the press may have to wait. The defense indicated this morning it may appeal the order to Superior Court.
Judge Linda Thompson ruled this afternoon that the witness statements and other previously unreleased pieces of the incident report should be made available to the press. She didn't rule on the video because of a technical problem that kept her from watching it and staid the release of the documents until tomorrow at 10 a.m. (pending word on an appeal from the defense.)