By Joseph Ax
NEW YORK, Feb 12 (Reuters) - A convicted murderer cannot
obtain the names of witnesses who spoke to investigators about
the crime, the Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.
In a one-paragraph memorandum, the court unanimously
affirmed a 2011 decision from the First Department, Appellate
Division, denying Perry Bellamy access to the documents.
Bellamy, 51, is serving 15 years to life for murdering a
parole officer in Queens in 1985, a gang-related execution that
was ordered from prison, according to court papers.
As part of an effort to get a new trial, he filed a request
under the state's Freedom of Information Law to obtain New York
City Police Department files related to his arrest. After
receiving redacted documents, he filed a petition in Manhattan
Supreme Court seeking the names and statements of witnesses
interviewed by police during the investigation.
In 2009, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Alice Schlesinger
ordered the city to turn over the information.
The First Department reversed in September 2011, finding
that the city had successfully shown that the release of the
documents could place the witnesses in danger.
The state's public records laws include an exemption for
disclosures that could endanger someone.
Bellamy, who is incarcerated at the Elmira Correctional
Facility and acted as his own attorney, could not be reached for
In a statement, city attorney Sharyn Rootenberg said, "We
believe the Court of Appeals correctly affirmed here, protecting
the privacy and safety of people who cooperate with the police."
The case is In the Matter of Perry Bellamy v. New York City
Police Department, New York Court of Appeals, No. 83.
For Bellamy: Pro se.
For the NYPD: Sharyn Rootenberg of the New York City Law
(This article has been revised to clarify the type of
witness information Bellamy was seeking.)
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