The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

December 28, 2012

Investigative files sealed in Hoffner case



In a motion requesting the temporary restraining order and temporary injunction, Fleming and a new attorney representing Hoffner, Christopher Madel of the Minneapolis law firm Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, mainly focused on the harm that would be caused to Hoffner and his family if the information was released. The attorneys argue that releasing more information would cause more harm.

“The Hoffners have already experienced irreparable injury from (Hanson’s) decision to charge Mr. Hoffner with child abuse and possession of child pornography,” the motion said.

“Among other things, the investigative file would not even exist had (Hanson) not chosen to file the criminal child abuse charges against Mr. Hoffner. It would thus be unfair and unjust to release additional information relating to those same, now dismissed allegations when the information would not have existed but for the improvident criminal prosecution.”

The information, if released, wouldn’t promote open government because much of it was gathered from the Hoffner’s home, where “expectations of privacy are highest,” the motion said.

Fleming said Thursday he wants the information sealed because he is attempting to protect Hoffner’s privacy. Investigators went through computer files, took pictures of items inside the house and filed several reports about what was found.

“We’re not hiding anything from anybody,” Fleming said.

The original complaint filed by Hoffner against Blue Earth County does acknowledge why there is public interest in what information is in the investigation files. It points out that the case was covered by media outlets throughout the country after Hoffner was charged.

“Following the dismissal of the charges, this interest has not waned as scores of well-meaning individuals have asked why MSU-Mankato has not permitted Mr. Hoffner to return to work,” the complaint said.

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