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L.A. Times asks to unseal records in case involving death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs

Mike Trout, wearing a jersey to honor Tyler Skaggs, speaks to Eric Kay in the dugout in July 2019.
Mike Trout, wearing a jersey to honor Tyler Skaggs, speaks to Eric Kay in the dugout before a game at Angel Stadium in July 2019.
(John McCoy / Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Times asked a federal judge Monday to unseal exhibit and witness lists filed by the government in the case of the former Angels employee charged in connection with the overdose death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs.

In a motion filed in U.S. District Court in Fort Worth, James A. Hemphill, an attorney for The Times, noted the Supreme Court “has consistently recognized that the public and the press have a First Amendment right of access to criminal proceedings and records.”

Last month, U.S. District Judge Terry R. Means granted a government motion to seal exhibit and witness lists until testimony has concluded during the trial that’s scheduled to start Feb. 8.

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“The Court’s Order neither addresses the presumption of public access to judicial proceedings nor details any putative compelling countervailing interests favoring nondisclosure of judicial records,” The Times’ motion said.

The motion also seeks to unseal almost two dozen docket entries currently hidden from public view.

Eric Kay, the Angels’ former communications director, has pleaded not guilty to federal charges in Tyler Skaggs’ death.

“The docket does not indicate that the Court has issued a sealing order explaining its rationale for sealing these portions of its docket sheet from public view,” the motion said.

A spokeswoman for prosecutors declined comment.

Eric Kay is charged with distributing the fentanyl that allegedly led to Skaggs’ death in Texas in July 2019 and conspiring to “possess with the intent to distribute” fentanyl and oxycodone since at least 2017. The former Angels communications director has pleaded not guilty.

In a court filing in August, prosecutors said they plan to present testimony from “approximately” five Major League Baseball players who allege they received oxycodone from Kay.

This isn’t the first dispute over sealed records in the case. In October, the Angels asked Means to unseal his order denying the government’s attempt to compel the team to comply with a subpoena seeking information about members of the organization possibly distributing drugs, noting the order didn’t include any nonpublic information. The government opposed the move.

The judge went ahead and made the order public last month. It blistered the government’s subpoena effort as a “fishing expedition” and alleged that the government “apparently has no idea what specific items it wants from the Angels.”


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