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Transcript delay holds up document release ruling

The public's access to a transcript of a criminal grand jury hearing that led to the indictment of a Stockton man accused of murder in the shooting death of a California Highway Patrol officer remains in limbo.

A Stanislaus County Superior Court judge last week said the 547-page transcript should be released to the public, but also gave attorneys who represent Columbus Allen Jr. II time to take a writ to an appellate court.

That writ was due Tuesday afternoon in the Fifth District Court of Appeals, but defense attorney Ramon Magaña cannot complete the filing until he receives a transcript of a July 10 hearing held in Modesto.

As a result, Judge Hurl Johnson extended a stay, keeping the transcript sealed for five more days.

Magaña wants the appellate court to seal the transcript until after Allen's trial, saying prosecutors shared information with the grand jury that may not be admissible at trial.

The Bee is seeking a copy of the transcript, something that becomes a public document 10 days after it is delivered to the defense. Attorneys routinely litigate the admissibility of evidence to be used at trial during public proceedings.

Allen, 32, is suspected of killing officer Earl Scott on Feb. 17, 2006, during a traffic stop on Highway 99 near Salida.

Allen is charged with first-degree murder, using a firearm in the commission of a crime and three special circumstances that could lead to the death penalty.

Bee staff writer Susan Herendeen can be contacted at sherendeen@modbee.com or 578-2338.

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