Monday, February 21, 2005
In State v. Safeway Judge George King has allowed the unsealing of some records that may show that the defendants in that case, three supermarket chains, agreed to "mutual assistance" in order to outlast strikers during a lengthy labor union dispute during 2003/2004. The Los Angeles Times was an intervenor in the proceeding. Considering only the classification of the particular documents in an earlier proceeding as confidential, Judge King found that the public right of access outweighed the defendants' right to keep the materials private, particularly since the matter involved a lengthy strike (141 days), and also recognized the press' historic role in serving "as a monitor of both the State and the courts". He nevertheless stayed the order to release the materials until February 4th, pending the defendants' appeal to the 9th Circuit. On February 5th, the documents, called collectively a mutual aid agreement, became public, and the L. A. Times published an extensive article discussing them.