Skip to main content

MN media groups intervene in Wetterling lawsuit, call for release of Jacob case files

The Wetterling family has until Friday to tell a judge which information they want holding back.
  • Author:
  • Updated:

A coalition of journalism groups and media outlets have intervened in a legal case, and are calling on a judge to release files that are part of the Jacob Wetterling case.

The Wetterling family filed a restraining order against the Stearns County Sheriff's Office earlier this month, days ahead of a release of thousands of pages from the Wetterling investigation file. They argued that a small part contains highly personal information unrelated to the case, which they feel breaches their privacy.

On Monday, groups including the Minnesota Newspaper Association and media outlets including MPR, the Pioneer Press and KSTP intervened in the case, urging Judge Ann Currott to not allow the constitutional right of privacy to override the Data Practices Act.

The release of the files had been delayed after the Wetterlings filed the restraining order, and on Monday they were adamant that their privacy should be protected in spite of the intervention of Minnesota media.

A statement from the family's lawyer, Doug Kelley, said a tiny part of the file ("less than three one thousands of one percent") contains "intensely personal" information "which do not belong in a police file."

He also says it contains "misinformation of a character" that "I've never seen in 42 years in practicing criminal law."

In their intervention, the media groups state that the Wetterling family "recognizes that the records in question are classified as public" under Minnesota data laws, and fear that allowing some information to be held back could set an unwanted precedent for future public transparency cases.

The sheriff's office was set to release them after that the case was closed following the confession of Jacob Wetterling's killer, Danny Heinrich, and the subsequent discovery of his body.

The Minnesota Newspaper Association, the St. Cloud Times reports, said in response: "While sincerely sympathetic to the Wetterlings, (the MNA) believes the lawsuit poses a direct threat to the integrity of the Data Practices Act, the state law that governs the classification of government records and that requires most to be made public."

The Wetterlings have until Friday to tell Judge Ann Carrott which pages they do not feel should be released, the St. Cloud Times reports.

Next Up

Brandon Gardas

St. Michael standoff suspect charged, bail set at $10 million

A judge on Monday set the high bail due to "very significant concerns of public safety" regarding Brandon Gardas.


Minnesota's premier trauma center housed at HCMC

The Minneapolis center is nationally recognized in pediatric trauma

Crisp & Green

Crisp & Green opening 13th store in Twin Cities in July

The fast-casual salad and grains restaurant has exploded onto the food scene.

FLickr - Target Field 2019 - mark grabe

Twins to host post-game concert with country star at Target Field

Country singer Cole Swindell is expected to perform for up to 75 minutes after the conclusion of the Blue Jays-Twins contest.


Canton Restaurant closes after nearly 40 years in Burnsville

It's the end of an era in the Twin Cities restaurant world.

Screen Shot 2022-06-27 at 12.47.20 PM

Luck strikes in Minnesota: lottery winners in Duluth, Grand Marais

The North Shore just so happened to be a lucky place to be this past weekend.


Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Monday, June 27

BA.5 is expected to become the dominant subvariant in Minnesota.

police lights squad car

60-year-old woman arrested after firing shots inside Spicer home

SWAT evacuated nearby residents during the incident.

Florida Georgia Line

Florida Georgia Line booked to play at the Minnesota State Fair

The band is the second country music act to be booked this year.


First case of monkeypox confirmed in Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Health says the risk to the public is "considered low" at this time.


Wetterlings given more time to fight release of 'intensely personal' case files

A judge granted an extension because "new issues" have arisen.

Jacob Wetterling case files to be released next week

The release of the files has been subject to legal challenges.

Jacob Wetterling files must be released, judge rules

Minnesota media had challenged the ruling preventing the files' release.

Wetterling family makes statement ahead of release of Jacob case file

The investigative documents will go public on Thursday.

Wetterling case files reveal bungled response to Jacob's abduction

Tens of thousands of documents have been released on Thursday.

Remains discovered are Jacob Wetterling, medical examiner confirms

Jacob Wetterling's remains have been found, nearly 27 years after the boy disappeared, the Stearns County Sheriff's Office confirmed Saturday afternoon.