February 9, 2005 – Court to decide access to NYC’s 9/11 emergency tapes.
"The state’s highest court heard arguments Wednesday in a two-year struggle over access to a trove of city transcripts and tape recordings from Sept. 11, 2001.
At issue before the Court of Appeals is access to tapes of 911 calls, Fire Department dispatches and transcripts of interviews with hundreds of firefighters who responded on the day of the attack.
The New York Times filed the lawsuit after the city declined to release the items. The paper was later joined by relatives of civilians and firefighters who died at the World Trade Center.
In fighting the suit the city has cited privacy issues, concern over the emotions of the grieving and the ongoing terror prosecution of Zacarias Moussaoui in Virginia.
Judge Albert Rosenblatt pressed the plaintiff to "give us an example of a privacy interest. Otherwise there is no standard."
"The burden of proof is on the city," Norman Siegel, a lawyer representing the families, said, adding that the city did not consult "a single family member" before refusing to release the items.
John Hogrogian, a lawyer for the city, did not deny that.
About two dozen relatives of Sept. 11 victims journeyed to Albany to attend the hearing.
"If the city has someone who was against releasing the tapes we should have heard from them," said Russell Mercer, the stepfather of firefighter Scott Kopytko, 33, who died on Sept. 11." – Newsday (02/09/05)