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Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, at lectern, answers questions at a July 6 press conference called by members of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus to address ongoing controversies with the Louisiana State Police and the next steps to restore public trust in the agency.

A Baton Rouge judge overruled a request for additional time and told lawyers for the Louisiana State Police that he will decide for himself what information the agency can withhold from the public on the personnel file of a state trooper involved in the beating death of Ronald Greene, a Black motorist from Monroe.

Judge Chip Moore, of the 19th Judicial District, on Wednesday directed State Police to turn over the unredacted documents to his office within 10 days so that he may review them.

Last month, the newspaper sued State Police over the redactions, which were provided in response to a public records request and which relate to the personnel file of Master Trooper Kory York. York was one of a handful of troopers who responded to the remote roadside in Union Parish where Greene died in 2019 after being chased and beaten by police. 

The incident, along with several other beatings of Black motorists in the area patrolled by State Police's Monroe-based Troop F, has sparked a sprawling federal civil rights investigation being led by the FBI.

Among the many pages of York's personnel file that were blacked out: Nearly the entirety of a disciplinary letter explaining why York was suspended without pay for 50 hours for his role in the Greene incident. York turned off his body camera before getting to the scene, but footage from other troopers’ cameras showed him dragging Greene, who was prone, by the shackles and yelling expletives at him.

York’s personnel file was among 15 the newspaper sought to review in a request filed in March. Lawyers for State Police complained the request was overly burdensome, amounting to some 9,000 pages, and offered to provide York’s records first as a test case for the remainder.

The newspaper, which has stipulated that it has no interest in health or tax information relating to any trooper, filed suit in July, shortly after receiving the York material, saying the redactions were far too broad.

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At Wednesday’s hearing, the first in the case, Adrienne Aucoin, a lawyer for State Police, asked Moore to continue the matter. She said that lawyers with Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office had recently become involved in the case, and that they have concerns that releasing too much material about specific troopers could increase the state’s liability in various civil lawsuits filed against the agency.

Scott Sternberg, a lawyer for the newspaper, said The Times-Picayune and The Advocate were ready to try the case and would prefer not to delay things further.

Moore agreed and directed Aucoin to turn over an unredacted copy of the York materials to him within 10 days. He said that amount of time would also give State Police and Landry’s office time to file briefs offering any specific objections they might have to releasing any of the documents.

“I can review them, apply the law and be done with it,” Moore said. “Postponement means a long time because my dockets are full. I would prefer to go forward with it in that context.”

Moore said he will set another hearing in the case to present his findings.

Editor's note: This story was changed Aug. 12 to correct the name of the parish where Greene died.

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