The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

May 3, 2013

UPDATE: Judge rules Hoffner investigative file will remain sealed


Due to Hoffner’s First Amendment right to make video recordings of his children in his own home, “the press must exercise restraint and ‘direct some effort to protect the rights of an accused’ to free speech and privacy,” she said.

“Where the only basis for a police action against a parent is the misconception of that parent’s speech or activity protected by the First Amendment, it is difficult to conceive of a more chilling effect on the full expression and utilization of that parent’s First Amendment rights than the government’s intrusion in the private realm of the family home, its rummaging through the family’s personal effects, and its exposure of all that is discovered to the public eye.”

Releasing any information from the file also would impede on the Hoffner family’s right to privacy, Jass said.

“A parent and his children are not subject to state-assisted public scrutiny for doing that which they are constitutionally entitled to do,” she said. “Where an investigation reveals no harm to any member of the family unit, what goes on within the privacy of the family home is not the public’s constitutional business.”

The request to have some of the information released from the investigative file was not meant to impede on the family’s free speech or privacy, Anfinson said Friday. He had not received a copy of Jass’ order because it was put in the mail Friday afternoon. He said it’s hard to know what the media would use from the file because there is little information available about what’s in it.

“We always conceded that anything related to the kids was off limits,” Anfinson said. “We didn’t want it. I don’t buy it, but we’re at a disadvantage because we don’t know what’s there.

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