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Open Records Hearing in Georgia

ATLANTA (AP) _ The Georgia Supreme Court will hear arguments
Monday in a newspaper's claim that police violated the state's open
records laws by refusing to release documents related to the unsolved rape and murder of a University of Georgia student.

In a 2005 lawsuit, The Athens Banner-Herald claimed that the Athens-Clarke County Police Department had thwarted reporters' access to public documents by classifying the 1992 rape and murder of Jennifer Lynn Stone and the 2001 murder of Tara Louise Baker as "pending investigations.''

Stone, a 22-year-old advertising student from Roswell, was found raped and strangled in her downtown Athens apartment in April 1992.
Baker, a 23-year-old law student, was found dead in her burning house in January 2001. Neither case has been solved.

The case to be heard by the Supreme Court involves the 1992 killing. The newspaper contends that the records of a 15-year-old "dormant'' criminal investigation should be open.

The department asserts that its investigation into Stone's murder has remained active and the details should remain closed.

A lower court ordered the public release of the files, but the Georgia Court of Appeals later reversed that ruling.


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