Federal judge plans to unseal records in case of Columbus attorney Mark Shelnutt

ariquelmy@ledger-enquirer.comJune 24, 2009 

A U.S. District Court judge in the case against Columbus attorney Mark Shelnutt intends to unseal court records that Shelnutt asked to be released in a motion earlier this month.

Shelnutt, accused in a 40-count indictment last month, had asked Judge Clay Land to unseal certain documents he called essential to his defense. Today, Land stated that he intends to unseal those records on Tuesday, unless a written objection is filed by Monday.

Shelnutt is accused of aiding and abetting a conspiracy to distribute cocaine, money laundering, witness tampering and attempted bribery.

His indictment alleges a connection between Shelnutt and convicted drug dealer Torrance Hill, whom Shelnutt represented and who pleaded guilty in federal court in December 2006.

He states that Torrance Hill, Latea Davis and Sean Bunkley are known government witnesses and he asks the court to unseal documents for their cases as well as others.

“Indeed, at this point, secrecy violates the defendant’s right to due process and right to effective assistance of counsel because the defendant is entitled to use the sealed materials to prepare his defense,” the motion states.

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