Source: Ali Rockett, Emily Johnson
In a hearing held October 24 in Colleton County 14th Circuit Court Judge Robert Bonds ruled in favor of the media declaring Ryan L. Manigo’s phone calls from jail are a matter of public record. Manigo is currently detained for numerous counts of murder, arson, and sexual assault perpetrated against a family of six in Greenpond earlier this year in July.
Media including print, television, and online outlets filed Freedom of Information Acts to obtain access to Manigo’s phone calls while incarcerated.
The South Carolina Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a group of laws created to ensure the public has means of acquiring public records of government bodies. This is the crux of the argument about whether to release the calls; are they considered a matter of public record?
Manigo was not present at the hearing, but his defense attorney Robert Bank argued against the release of the phone calls citing they were not a matter of public record. Banks maintained the purpose of FOIA was to give access to the fundamental workings of government and its public entities and Manigo’s phone calls disclose no information about a government agency. Attorney Banks also asserted the release of the calls would “deprive a person of a right to a fair trial” as well as “constitute an unreasonable invasion of personal privacy”. Judge Bonds disagreed declaring because the calls are recorded and maintained by the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office, a government agency, the calls are public record. Fourteenth Circuit Court Solicitor Duffie Stone stated he will begin reviewing the calls and once completed will inform media outlets of any calls he intended to withhold citing any FOIA exemptions. Stone will also notify the defense of any calls intended for release.
Another of Manigo’s attorneys, Boyd Young commented he will be filing a motion to reconsider and an appeal on this matter.