NEW ORLEANS — WWL-TV, The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate and the city’s other major television stations have filed a motion asking that they be allowed access to an upcoming court hearing on the question of whether emails and other communications between the Archdiocese of New Orleans and executives of the New Orleans Saints organization should remain confidential.

The motion was filed Monday on behalf of WWL-TV, The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate, WVUE-TV and WDSU-TV. A hearing has been set for 9 a.m. Thursday before Civil District Judge Ellen Hazeur.

The hearing in question is set for Feb. 20 before former Civil District Judge Carolyn Gill-Jefferson, whom Hazeur named a “special master” in the case. The hearing arose from a lawsuit filed by an anonymous man who says he was molested by George Brignac, a former Catholic deacon, decades ago. Brignac’s conduct has been the subject of numerous lawsuits, and he faces a criminal charge of rape in Orleans Parish.

During the discovery process in the case, lawyers for the plaintiffs unearthed 276 emails that show that members of the Saints organization were advising church officials on how to manage the fallout from sex-abuse scandal, which reignited locally after the Brignac revelations.

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The Saints and the archdiocese have said the emails are confidential and should remain so. Lawyers for the Associated Press, which has intervened in the case, have argued the emails are of great public interest and that the public has a right to see them.

The motion filed by lawyer Scott Sternberg on behalf of the other news organizations Monday does not take a position on whether the emails – which the organizations have not seen – ought to be public. Rather, Sternberg argues that the hearing at which that question is decided should be public.

Closing the hearing, Sternberg argues, “violates the First Amendment right of access, the Louisiana Constitution and Louisiana law.”

The motion argues that if certain emails deemed potentially sensitive or confidential must be discussed at the hearing, the judge has the option of closing parts of the hearing, saying that “wholesale closure … is certainly not the most narrowly tailored restriction” Gill-Jefferson could have imposed. The motion asks Hazeur to order the Feb. 20 hearing opened.