By: Samuel Maull, AP Staff Writer
(AP) A judge has ordered the city to release hundreds of documents and audio tapes that recorded the responses of emergency services members after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.
State Supreme Court Justice Richard Braun, ruling on a petition by The New York Times and one of its reporters said the city had not provided sufficient reasons why most of the records should be kept secret.
Lawyers for the city did not return calls seeking comment Wednesday.
In his ruling issued late Tuesday, Braun said the petitioners may inspect and obtain copies of the 911 tapes and other communications between firefighters and dispatchers and factual “oral histories.” But he said the city could shield opinions of firefighters, other emergency services workers, and private citizens.
The city argued that some fire operators and dispatchers “expressed disbelief, shock, and terror” at what was transpiring at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. The judge granted that the situation was extraordinarily difficult but said they were public employees and therefore “not entitled to a privacy exemption.”
The judge said the 911 calls “made by the husbands and sons of the nine families” that filed friend-of-the-court briefs should be disclosed so that they will have the opportunity to hear their loved ones. He noted that they had waived privacy rights.
New York Times lawyer David McCraw said: “We think the documents will help the public better understand how rescue operations were conducted Sept. 11.”
McCraw said the reporter, Jim Dwyer, had requested some of the records nearly a year ago.