Judge denies release of 38 Studios grand jury records

A Rhode Island judge on Thursday denied a request to release secret grand jury records from the criminal investigation into the state's $75 million deal with 38 Studios, the video game company started by former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling.

Superior Court Presiding Justice Alice Gibney ruled that Gov. Gina Raimondo, who petitioned for the records, failed to show that a "public clamor" for disclosure outweighed the need for secrecy.

Raimondo, a Democrat, had sought the records in February, arguing that Rhode Island residents have a right to know what happened and "complete transparency is the best way to ensure that such a disastrous deal never happens again."

Schilling's company moved to Rhode Island from Massachusetts in 2010 for a $75 million loan guarantee, but later went bankrupt.

Raimondo's petition was backed by the American Civil Liberties Union but opposed by state Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, a fellow Democrat who said releasing the records would undermine the grand jury process that involves witness testimony given behind closed doors.

The grand jury concluded its work in 2015 with no criminal charges.

Gibney sided with Kilmartin, arguing in the 24-page ruling that Raimondo "was not a party to the original investigation, the civil suit has concluded, the petitioner does not need the materials for any particularized reason, the targets of the investigation were exonerated, and disclosure of the material would hinder the free and untrammeled flow of information and compromise the longstanding history of grand jury secrecy."

Gibney also wrote that "allowing public clamor alone to justify disclosure would cause the exception to swallow the rule; namely, releasing documents based on mere public interest in grand jury proceedings would entirely defeat the purpose, and role, of the grand jury."

Raimondo said Thursday she was disappointed but respected the court's decision. She didn't say if she would appeal it to the state's Supreme Court, but said she is asking her legal team to review its options.

Kilmartin on Thursday thanked the judge for a "well-reasoned and thoughtful decision upholding the special role of the grand jury in the criminal justice system." Kilmartin was also a state legislator at the time of the 38 Studios deal and voted for the legislation that allowed the deal to happen.