(CN) - Porn mogul Larry Flynt and media advocates seeking to unseal court records about death-penalty executions in Missouri scored big Tuesday in the 8th Circuit.
The Hustler magazine's publisher opposes the death penalty but his testimony failed in 2013 to stop Missouri from executing the serial killer, Joseph Franklin, who shot him in 1978 and left him confined to a wheelchair.
Flynt had wanted to have his shooter's sentence commuted to life in prison, and he moved to intervene in a lawsuit filed by Franklin and other death-row inmates seeking information about Missouri's execution protocol.
On the date of Franklin's execution, a federal judge denied Flynt's request as moot in a one-sentence ruling that said Flynt had only a generalized interest in the litigation.
Among those backing Flynt's request were the American Civil Liberties Union, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 13 other media outlets, including Courthouse News Service.
Flynt appealed , and the 8th Circuit ruled in his favor Tuesday.
"To the extent the district court denied Flynt's motions because it believed Rule 24(b) intervention was the incorrect procedural mechanism, the district court applied the incorrect legal standard in holding that Flynt's generalized interest in the subjects," the unsigned five-page opinion states.
While it is true that Flynt could have filed a separate lawsuit rather than seeking to intervene in this one, "permissive intervention under Rule 24(b) is an appropriate procedural vehicle for non-parties seeking access to judicial records in civil cases," the court said.
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