Judge allows partial release of Attica riot papers

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 24, 2014 at 5:00 pm •  Published: April 24, 2014
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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A New York judge on Thursday approved a request to allow a fuller history of the nation's bloodiest prison riot to be revealed, including a look into whether there was any cover-up by authorities.

But Justice Patrick NeMoyer excluded from release grand jury transcripts that were part of the investigation into the 1971 Attica prison rebellion, raising questions about whether victims' families who have fought for years to see the full report will get all the answers they're seeking.

NeMoyer said it's now up to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has the document known as 1975 Meyer Commission report, to publicly release its two remaining volumes after removing evidence from grand jury investigations into possible crimes.

The judge acknowledged the evidence was central to the report findings, but that doesn't trump the general requirement for grand jury secrecy.

Schneiderman had sought court permission to reveal the deeper report of the riot, including the investigations that followed, on behalf of relatives who lost loved ones and believe they've never had a full accounting of actions taken by authorities before and after the deaths. The Meyer Commission investigated whether there were cover-ups by prosecutors and investigators of wrongdoing.

During the riot, 11 staff and 32 inmates were killed — all but four shot by state police and corrections officers retaking the prison.

About 33,000 pages of grand jury transcripts were generated by the Attica investigation and reviewed by the commission, named for the late judge who headed the investigation. NeMoyer wrote that it's up to Schneiderman to decide whether to also remove names and information from the rest of the report that might identify grand jury witnesses and targets, something Schneiderman had proposed.

The attorney general's office said the decision was "a step forward" in its effort to shed more light on one of the most tragic events in the state's history and would decide how to best proceed in releasing a redacted version of the report.

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