BOSTON – The highest court in Massachusetts ruled Tuesday that an inquest report and transcript can be released in the 1986 shooting death of the brother of an Alabama professor accused of killing three colleagues.
The Supreme Judicial Court said Amy Bishop, her family, prosecutors and others can still go to court argue to show "good cause" why the materials should remain sealed. If those arguments fail, the inquest materials will be released.
Bishop, a former biology professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, was arrested in February 2010 after she allegedly opened fire on her co-workers, killing three and wounding three others.
After the Alabama shootings, a Massachusetts judge conducted an inquest into the death of Seth Bishop. The shooting had been ruled an accident after Amy Bishop told police she accidentally shot her 18-year-old brother in the family's Braintree home as she was trying to unload her father's gun.
After the closed-door inquest was completed, a grand jury indicted Bishop in her brother's death.
The Boston Globe challenged a judge's decision to keep the inquest records sealed, arguing that releasing the documents could shed some light on what led to the decision not to prosecute Bishop in her brother's death.
In its decision Tuesday, the SJC sided with the Globe and outlined new rules for the release of inquest materials, saying the automatic impoundment of the records ends after the subject of the inquest is indicted by a grand jury or after prosecutors decide not to present the case to a grand jury. The court said the materials will remain impounded during a 10-day waiting period to give interested parties a chance to argue that the records should remain sealed.
A call to Bishop's attorney, Larry Tipton, was not immediately returned Tuesday.