Thus far Chris Watts’ defense has sat back and allowed the prosecutors to do all the work in terms of holding back the media [who have been baying of the autopsy reports]. Well, today that’s changed.
Chris Watts defense submitted a three page civil motion requesting that disclosure of the autopsy reports be denied to the media and the public. There are 15 bullets spread across those three pages, much of it filled with legal jargon.
But there are some excerpts of the report [full report here] that are quite revealing.
CHRISTOPHER WATTS, through his attorneys, hereby moves this Honorable Court to hold a hearing on the government’s proffered reason for wanting to deny disclosure of the autopsies in this matter.
So the issue here isn’t so much the autopsy reports, or wanting to deny disclosure, but the defense wanting to know the reason the state has given to deny disclosure.
As grounds for this motion, Mr. Watts states:
2. Out of an abundance of caution…Mr. Watts respectfully moves this court to hold a hearing on whether the release of the autopsies “could result in tainting witnesses that have not yet been interviewed” as the government claimed in its Motion [L] at paragraph 3.
3. As stated in Mr. Watts’ notice (D-039), the government’s alternative claim that the results of the autopsies will taint potential jurors is groundless – the results will almost assuredly be revealed in court proceedings well in advance of trial.
4. However, counsel for Mr. Watts remains concerned about the government’s spurious claims related to tainting witnesses who have yet to be interviewed. Counsel remains specifically concerned that the government possesses information that the defense does not have.
What this reveals is that the defense wants to know which witnesses the state prosecutor has or has yet to interview. Interesting legal arm twist here.
5. It is not clear if the government’s assertion means that it has knowledge that witnesses may change their testimony once they see the coroner’s opinion. It is not clear which witnesses the government knows about who have not been interviewed that may have that reaction to the opinion of the coroner. It is not clear what information the government possesses that would lead them to that conclusion. Perhaps more importantly, it is now clear that no party in the civil case has an interest in developing the record about this specious claim. According to the petition filed in
18CV30907, the coroner (whose office is ostensibly independent from the district attorney’s) “concurs with the District Attorney’s reasoning” and has “no reason to doubt [the] District Attorney . . . .” 18CV30907, VERIFIED PETITION IN RE: THE REQUEST OF THE GREELEY TRIBUNE FOR CERTAIN RECORDS PURSUANT TO THE
COLORADO OPEN RECORDS ACT, C.R.S. §§ 24-72-201, ET. SEQ., at ¶¶ 13, 14.
Counsel for Mr. Watts cannot share the coroner’s apparent confidence. The coroner’s naked deference to the government has therefore made clear that he has no interest in challenging the government’s judgement; consequently, he has no interest in investigating and ferreting out the validity of its claim. Mr. Watts does.
It’s interesting how the defense are shooting warning shots over the bow, basically alleging that the coroner is in cahoots with the district attorney’s office. The tone of the motion also indicates the tone of Chris Watts’ defense – it’s defiant!
Read the rest here [scroll down to the end].
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