5:48 PM EDT, May 22, 2013
Newtown town clerk Debbie Aurelia is not just disregarding state law and years of tradition in withholding death certificates regarding the Dec. 14 Newtown massacre. In this ultimate act of arrogance, she is declaring that she knows best — she is the law.
Ms. Aurelia is refusing to honor requests to see death certificates of those who were murdered by Adam Lanza — even though death certificates by law or custom have always been open records.
The clerk has put her foot down out of concern for grieving family members, and the law be damned. She also apparently thinks that a death certificate isn't the kind of information that the freedom of information law was meant to protect.
We understand the sensitivity to grief, but not the willful disobeying of the law by a public official who should know better.
State Rep. Mitch Bolinsky of Newtown, who introduced a bill saying death certificates of children under 18 can't be released until six months after the death, excuses Ms. Aurelia by arguing, stupefyingly, that she hasn't yet violated the terms of his bill, which hasn't even passed.
Connecticut public officials in general have performed well in reaction to the Newtown tragedy. But they have fallen down badly on the subject of government secrecy.
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