Gov. Jan Brewer says her mentally ill son was concerned about his privacy when he asked a court to block public inspection of records from his 2-decade-old criminal case — records that a judge has now ordered be released.
A lawyer for Ronald Brewer, now 46, successfully requested sealing of his client’s case in early January 2009 at a time when it was known Jan Brewer would become governor later that month once Janet Napolitano resigned to become U.S. Homeland Security secretary
In the 1989 criminal case stemming from a sexual assault, Ronald Brewer was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
“He was aware that with his mother becoming governor that it might be something people might be interested in,” Brewer told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
A judge on Monday finalized an Aug. 31 order to unseal orders in the criminal case. The Arizona Republic’s parent company in June asked to have the records unsealed.
Brewer said she was aware in 2009 that her son was requesting that the records be sealing but said she did not urge him to take that course.
“I would want whatever was best for Ron, and he made that decision,” Brewer said. “He thought it was the best thing. … and unfortunately it didn’t appear to have the force of justice behind it and now they’re unsealed.”
Judge Pendleton Gaines of Maricopa County Superior Court said in his order that Ronald Brewer’s request for privacy isn’t enough to block public access to criminal court records that typically are open.
“The generalized concern of (Ronald Brewer’s doctor) about the Defendant’s fragility or potential impact upon him of the release of all or any portion of a file which was in the public domain for some 20 years is not sufficient enough to outweigh the public’s right to know,” Gaines wrote.
However, Gaines said he will review some documents that include psychiatric and medical records to determine whether they should remain sealed.
The Republic reported on the records case in a story that accompanied another article about Jan Brewer’s past advocacy as a legislator and governor for funding for mental health services. The story also noted that Brewer more recently accepted spending cuts for those services as part of the state’s response to its budget crisis.
Brewer said that her son’s illness made her more aware of needs of both patients and their families and that it was difficult to cut spending in that area.
“I knew what kind of hardship it would cause many of them,” Brewer said.