Massachusetts Supreme Court Justice Scott Kafker has ruled that the show cause hearing regarding Southcoast CEO Keith Hovan’s 83 illegal high capacity magazines will be closed to the public.

Why the public has been shut-out of this case is difficult to understand, given the leader of the largest health organization in the region has been accused by the Rochester Police with the illegal possession of high capacity magazines, including rounds ranging from 12 to 100 per magazine (most were 30 rounds or less).

According to Jack Spillane, of The New Beford Light, the public will never know about “whether Hovan’s 83 magazines were legal or illegal” unless Wareham District Court Clerk Magistrate Daryl C. Manchester files a charge against him. 

Typically, show cause hearings in Massachusetts are closed to the public. Given the considerable publicity that the Hovan case had already received, The New Bedford Light asked the Magistrate Manchester to allow the press and the public to be made aware of the procedings.

Manchester denied the request, stating that the focus on the illegal high capacity magazines show cause hearings was a “separate personal matter,” from his position as CEO and from the domestic assautl and battery charge, therefore “the interest of the public does not outweight that right to privacy.”

The Light filed a motion on December 21, 2021 to access the hearing. In the January 14, 2022 ruling, Justice Kafker denied the request, stating:

“Although a close question in the instant case, as it involves a public figure’s alleged possession of a number of illegal large capacity magazines and feeding devices, and the charges have already received some publicity, including by media outlets other than the petitioners themselves, I nonetheless cannot conclude that the magistrate’s balancing of the public and private interests here was an error or abuse of discretion.”

Hovan is currently on paid leave since November 2021, when police charged him with domestic assault and battery stemming from a 911 call from his minor daughter. The charge was dismissed on December 20, 2021 in Wareham District Court because his wife invoked marital privilege and declined to testify against her husband.