Judge to rule on motion to keep evidence confidential in Brett Hankison case

Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 11:55 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A motion requesting to keep the evidence against former LMPD Detective Brett Hankison away from the public’s eye was jointly filed Thursday by Attorney General Daniel Cameron and the defense in the criminal proceedings.

Monday was the deadline for the first round of discovery to be filed. Judge Ann Bailey Smith ruled it would be filed on the record where everyone could see it, but the motion says that might cause more harm than good.

At the end of September, Brett Hankison pleaded not guilty to three felony counts of wanton endangerment for firing shots into Breonna Taylor’s neighbors' apartment.

Cameron and Hankison’s attorney, William Stewart Mathews, both argue that making evidence public could taint potential jurors and the unprecedented media coverage could lead to more threats of violence against Hankison.

That’s why the motion requests judge Ann Bailey Smith revoke her order that discovery be publicly filed or to seal it until a jury is seated.

WAVE 3 News legal expert Leland Hulbert said historically Jefferson County discoveries have been made public.

“My understanding, that’s not done as publicly anymore, and a lot of other counties in Kentucky has not done that way,” Hulbert said. “It’s just not filed with the court. It’s exchanged between the prosecution and the defense.”

Hankison’s attorney said Monday he’s already received a voluminous file from the prosecution. Judge Bailey Smith already ruled to release the grand jury recordings and LMPD’s public integrity unit investigation has also been released.

So that begs the question: What’s there that the public hasn’t seen?

“I think taking a stance of ‘we’re going to turn everything in the beginning’ and ‘we’re open and honest’ to ‘well, we’re going to pick and choose,' that may be the way it’s typically done in cases, but in this case, I think it’s a different message sent to the general public,” Hulbert said.

The Courier-Journal filed a motion Monday to try and stop the discovery from being sealed. The judge set the hearing for October 28 so everyone could come to the table, and will make her ruling after that.

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