Judge denies motion to temporarily restrict public access to filings in trooper murder case

People gather outside
Dozens showed up to support Ryan Londregan's first appearance on Jan. 29 in Minneapolis, on charges that he fatally shot motorist Ricky Cobb II last July.
Jon Collins | MPR News

A Hennepin County District Court judge has denied a request from prosecutors that would have restricted public access to court documents in the case of a state trooper charged in the fatal shooting of a motorist on I-94 in Minneapolis last summer. 

State Trooper Ryan Londregan is charged with second-degree unintentional murder, first-degree assault and second-degree manslaughter for the killing of Ricky Cobb II, who was shot to death by Londregan as his car began to move forward during a traffic stop on July 31.  

Prosecutors from the Hennepin County Attorney's Office had argued that all motions and evidence in the case should be kept private for at least two business days so Londregan can get a fair trial.

Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Joshua Larson said in the motion that evidence introduced before the trial could influence public opinion even if it ended up being ruled inadmissible in court.   

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Judge Tamara Garcia said in her ruling that there’s a First Amendment right to access court records in criminal cases. She said the prosecution’s argument that pretrial publicity could taint potential jurors is premature and overly broad. 

A coalition of media organizations, including MPR News, challenged the prosecutor’s proposal, arguing that they hadn’t proven that there was an inordinate amount of publicity regarding the case and that keeping the documents secret would violate the First Amendment and the court’s own rules. 

Prosecutors also asked the judge to issue an order governing the defense team’s dissemination of evidence introduced during the discovery phase of the trial. Garcia also denied that motion, ruling that the court’s rules regarding discovery were adequate. 

Londregan’s next court appearance is scheduled for March 1.