The Look in Brief

Court denies Memphis TV reporter access to DCS file in teen’s starvation death

By: - July 1, 2022 7:00 am
Historic Metro Nashville Courthouse (Photo: Nashville.gov)

Historic Metro Nashville Courthouse (Photo: Nashville.gov)

A Davidson County Chancellor has denied a Memphis TV reporter access to the full Department of Children’s Services case file on a 14-year-old Bartlett boy, found dead from starvation in 2020, because the criminal case against his mother and six other adults remains ongoing.

WREG journalist Stacy Jacobson filed suit in May seeking access to the full and un-redacted files kept by DCS on the boy and his family.  DCS had provided heavily redacted portions of the file and declined to release un-redacted records and reports documenting the child welfare agency’s from four investigations into the family before the child’s death.

Chancellor Patricia Head Moskal ruled that Jacobson is not permitted to access the full and un-redacted case file “during the pendency of the criminal proceedings against certain family members of the deceased child, and any collateral challenges to the results of those proceedings.”

“The interests of the public and the media must yield to the rights of criminal defendants and the integrity of the criminal justice system,” she wrote in the June 23 decision.

Paul McAdoo, an attorney with the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press who is representing Jacobson, said Thursday that no decisions on next steps in the case have been reached.

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Anita Wadhwani
Anita Wadhwani

Anita Wadhwani is a senior reporter for the Tennessee Lookout. The Tennessee AP Broadcasters and Media (TAPME) named her Journalist of the Year in 2019 as well as giving her the Malcolm Law Award for Investigative Journalism. Wadhwani is formerly an investigative reporter with The Tennessean who focused on the impact of public policies on the people and places across Tennessee. She is a graduate of Columbia University in New York and the University of California at Berkeley School of Journalism. Wadhwani lives in Nashville with her partner and two children.

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