More Motions Filed Under Seal In Holtzclaw Appeal
OKLAHOMA CITY - The mystery surrounding former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw's appeal is mounting.
Holtzclaw is convicted of several sex crimes against women while on patrol in northeast Oklahoma City. He's serving a 263 year prison sentence.
According to records, the Court of Criminal Appeals has filed additional motions under seal in his appeal that are seemingly connected to unprecedented secret hearings held last month.
The court transcripts from the closed hearing in district court, the district judge's ruling and even the paper ordering it under seal is now sealed, too.
The OCCA's reason for keeping the information confidential is still unknown and the lack of transparency is raising questions among the public, especially with Holtzclaw advocates.
"The problem I see, it lends credence to the public not trusting in what is going on," said legal analyst Irven Box.
Box has no connection to the case but shares his more than 40 years of experience in criminal justice. He's served as a police officer, prosecutor and is now a criminal defense attorney.
"I have not seen anything like this, with this level of secret, behind closed door activity," Box said.
So, News 9 went to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals with its own policies in hand and requested the protective order filed with the court clerk.
"The court sealed that order. normally, that order is not sealed but the court in this case did seal it," an employee in the clerk's office stated.
News 9 responded by citing the OCCA rules stating even when the information is sealed the protective order "shall be accessible to the public."
"Those are rules ... and rules are written by the court and the court can override their own rules," the employee explained.
Another employee called the case "an oddball" and said it was out of the norm to see the protective order, itself, sealed.
Those employees are not the authority but the Clerk of the Court Michael Richie was not there when News 9 stopped by.
Richie, however, told Holtzclaw advocate Brian Bates something similar.
"The court sealed it because it was, this is a very touchy ... if you wish to see it then you are going to have to file a motion asking to see it," Richie stated his name and further information in the recorded conversation.
"I think the courts count on an uninformed, uneducated and unmotivated public," Bates said.
Bates said he is very motivated to find out more about the content of the closed hearings.
"I want some answers and I think it should be very eye opening to Oklahomans ... that you try to follow the rules and the court makes up their own rules as they go along," he said.
Box said the rule seems pretty clear so the court must be trying to protect someone or something questionable in the case.
"The idea that is says public access and they are saying you can't see it just makes people more suspect of what is going on, " Box stated.