Hearing for Yankees in Fenway bullpen brawl to be open

Thursday, November 6, 2003

BOSTON — A hearing to determine whether two former members of the New York Yankees will face charges for their roles in a bullpen altercation with a Fenway Park employee will be open, a court official has ruled.

Boston police have filed paperwork requesting the hearing in Roxbury District Court to determine if there is probable cause to charge reliever Jeff Nelson and outfielder Karim Garcia with assault and battery. The altercation occurred during the American League Championship Series last month.

Such hearings are almost always closed to protect the identities of the parties involved, but a lawyer for Eagle-Tribune Publishing Co. filed a petition last week to keep the hearing open, arguing that the players’ names are already widely known.

“I’ve determined that the public’s interest in an open hearing outweighs any remaining privacy interests at stake and therefore, under the unusual circumstances presented by this particular case, the hearing on the application (for criminal complaints) will be open to the public,” Roxbury District Court Clerk-Magistrate Michael Neighbors wrote in a letter to attorneys for Eagle-Tribune Publishing.

Police have said that Nelson and Garcia assaulted part-time Fenway groundskeeper Paul Williams. The players have claimed that Williams provoked them by cheering for the Red Sox in the Yankees’ bullpen.

Williams, 24, of Derry, N.H., was treated and was released from a hospital wearing a neck brace after the fracas with Nelson, Garcia and several other Yankees during the ninth inning of New York’s 4-3 win over the Red Sox in Game 3 of the ALCS on Oct. 11.

Nelson and Garcia are not required to appear at tomorrow’s hearing.

The Yankees turned away notice of the petition, saying Nelson and Garcia are no longer with the team because their contracts have expired, according to Eagle-Tribune Publishing lawyer Peter J. Caruso.

Tags: ,