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Newspapers want Heinz records opened

| Thursday, Aug. 26, 2004

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is joining the attempt to make public the estate records of the late Sen. H. John Heinz III.

The Tribune-Review will move to intervene in a legal proceeding to unseal the documents, attorneys for the newspaper's law firm, Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Potter, said Friday.

The Tribune-Review is a sister paper of The Herald.

The Morning Call of Allentown and the Los Angeles Times last month petitioned Allegheny County Common Pleas Court to open the records, filed and sealed after Heinz died in an April 1991 plane crash. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette also has sought to intervene in the legal action.

In the initial petition, the Morning Call and the Times argue releasing the records will provide insight into whether the philanthropic activities of Heinz's widow, Teresa Heinz Kerry, are related to the campaign activities of her current husband, Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts.

The newspapers argue that probate records typically are open for public inspection in Pennsylvania, and that there is nothing to indicate why the seal should remain in place.

Without any apparent hearing, the records were sealed by Common Pleas Judge Nathan Schwartz the day after the popular Fox Chapel Republican senator died.

The newspapers are not seeking sensitive financial information such as Social Security numbers. If such information is contained in the records, it could be withheld by the court, the petition states.

New York attorney Paul Bschorr, who represents the Heinz estate, has vowed to vigorously contest the petition. A hearing before Common Pleas Judge Frank Lucchino is scheduled Sept. 14.

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