GREAT WHITE: Judge Considers Request In Nightclub Fire Case

Eric Tucker of The Associated Press reports:

A judge on Friday ordered a closed hearing for December to consider the state attorney general's request to make public secret grand jury testimony in The Station nightclub fire case.

Attorney General Patrick Lynch filed a petition this week asking for permission to release testimony provided to the statewide grand jury that investigated the Feb. 20, 2003 fire, which killed 100 people.

Superior Court Presiding Justice Joseph Rodgers Jr. said the criminal justice system considers grand jury testimony secret, but added, "As with most rules, there are exceptions."

Rodgers said he would consider whether there was a legitimate reason to make the grand jury material public during a closed hearing on Dec. 13. Prior to the hearing, others with an interest in the fire investigation will be given a chance to respond to the attorney general's petition, including the three people indicted, people whose actions were the focus of grand jury testimony and the parties in a massive suit.

A grand jury was convened within days of the fire and met for 10 months before returning indictments against the two brothers who owned the nightclub and the rock band tour manager whose pyrotechnics are blamed for igniting the blaze.

The fire at the West Warwick club began when sparks from pyrotechnics by the heavy metal band GREAT WHITE ignited flammable foam used as soundproofing around the stage.

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