Per the Idaho Statesman this morning:
Three cyclists died on Boise streets this spring, yet the death of Kevin Pavlis may have touched the bicycling community closest to home.
Pavlis was a cycling enthusiast and recreation store manager, well-known long before his June 11 death. Pavlis died after an accident along Hill Road - a popular training route with inclines and hazards that are all too familiar to local cyclists.
Nearly seven months later, we don't know much more about Pavlis' death - because a local judge has sealed a criminal case against a 16-year-old Boise driver.
We do know this: The boy faces a misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charge in connection with Pavlis' death and has appeared in court. We also know, according to Boise police reports, that Pavlis was riding legally along Hill Road when the accident occurred.
But we do not know whether the driver is fighting the charge against him. We also do not know when, or whether, 4th District Juvenile Judge William Harrigfeld will unseal the case.
Harrigfeld is within his rights. Juvenile cases generally become public record after an "admit/deny" hearing, when a defendant either admits guilt or launches a legal defense. However, a judge has the option to keep a case sealed.
Yes, this is a high-profile case. Sealing the file does protect a young defendant from adverse public attention. But this right to privacy has to be weighed against the public's right to know. The legal process should strive for transparency at every step - especially when a case has drawn and will draw close scrutiny.
Pavlis' death has become a focal point in an emotional local debate over cycling safety - an issue complicated by the often testy relationship between drivers and cyclists. In a widely circulated e-mail this fall, cycling enthusiasts went on the offensive before charges were even filed, second-guessing the Ada County prosecutor's office's handling of the case.
Now that charges have been filed, emotions will paint the way the community judges the final verdict. An acquittal or a reduced sentence will draw a chorus of told-you-so's from the cycling community. A maximum sentence could draw its own backlash, with suggestions that prosecutors and the court bowed to public pressure.
All of this may be unavoidable, but much of it can be mitigated through an open process.
A white "ghost bike" still stands near the scene of the June 11 accident - a memorial to Pavlis, and a reminder to cyclists and motorists who share space on Hill Road. And, sadly, the display is also oddly symbolic of the court-imposed silence surrounding this case.
Now we here at DBRB we encourage everyone to ride smart and safely when you are out there. Some of the comments on the website were scary - there are some seriously messed up views out there!
So if you are drinking beer and riding bikes tonight for the New Year celebrations - stay warm and remember it's safer to ride home drunk than it is to drive!!!! Happy New Year!