Fox News reporter Jana Winter is appealing a decision by a New York judge to enforce a subpoena from a Colorado court demanding that she testify about confidential sources who gave her a notebook of Colorado theater shooting defendant James Holmes' writings. In a brief joined by 42 other news organizations, the Reporters Committee argued that the lower court erred in failing to adequately consider New York's strong public policy protecting journalists and their confidential sources when it applied the law governing subpoena requests from out-of-state jurisdictions.
Hadeed Carpet Cleaning filed a defamation suit in Virginia against several anonymous reviewers for comments they posted on Yelp. Hadeed alleges that the reviewers were not actually customers and that their allegations were defamatory, and sought a subpoena to identify them. The trial court issued the subpoena and Yelp appealed to the Virginia Court of Appeals.
A San Antonio Express-News reporter requested access to a county commissioner's personal emails that concerned government business. The county, unsure of whether to fulfill the request, sought an opinion from the Texas Attorney General. The Attorney General wrote an opinion finding that private emails concerning public business were subject to the Texas Public Information Act. The commissioner then filed a suit against the AG seeking a declaration that the emails at issue were not subject to the PIA.
The New York Times Company and the American Civil Liberties Union sought records under the federal Freedom of Information Act detailing the U.S. government’s policies for when it can conduct drone strikes and when it can kill a U.S. citizen. In particular, the Times and the ACLU sought memos prepared by the Office of Legal Counsel, which provides legal advice to the President. After the government refused to release the records, the Times and the ACLU sued.
Fox News reporter Jana Winter faces an order to reveal her sources of information in the James Holmes Colorado theater shooting case. The Reporters Committee urged the court to carefully apply the qualified privilege under the Colorado shield law, to allow reporters like Winter to fully report on a case that is of great interest to the public.
Photographer Paul Raef was charged with violating California Vehicle Code Section 40008, which provides enhanced penalties to drivers who violate one of the state's reckless driving laws with the intent to capture a visual image or sound recording for a commercial purpose. A trial court judge dismissed the charges in Nov. 2012, concluding that Section 40008 targets First Amendment-protected activity and is not narrowly tailored to serve the government's interest.
The Reporters Committee wrote to the court clerk and a three-judge panel at the D.C. Circuit Court, asking them to give public insight into proceedings in a sealed case involving Jeffrey Thompson, a businessman accused of running a shadow campaign for D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray. The District Court had released a redacted version of an opinion dealing with documents seized from Thompson in a federal raid. Thompson appealed, and the D.C. Circuit issued a completely sealed opinion.
The Reporters Committee wrote to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee asking them to question Attorney General Eric Holder about the Department of Justice's policy of releasing booking photographs under FOIA. The Marshals Service had unilaterally determined not to honor such requests despite a federal appellate court's longstanding decision that the photographs do not implicate individual privacy.
David Barton, president of Wallbuilder Presentations Inc., sued Petitioners Judy Jennings and Rebecca Bell-Metereau for defamation in connection with a video the pair — who ran for the Texas State Board of Education in 2010 — produced about a controversy involving state school curriculum guidelines. Jennings and Bell-Metereau filed a motion to dismiss Barton's case under the Texas Citizens Participation Act.
In December 2012, the U.S. Marshals Service announced a new policy that blocks the public release of federal booking photographs pursuant to federal Freedom of Information Act cases. The Reporters Committee's letter, joined by 37 other media organizations, asks the Department of Justice to rescind the new policy, as it violates established case law in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that entitles individuals to obtain mug shots under FOIA for indicted defendants who have made a public court appearance and whose criminal proceeding is ongoing.
Media organizations in 2008 sought the release of a proffer statement given by Leonard Lawson in 1983 when Kentucky officials were investigating antitrust allegations. Lawson sued to enjoin the release of the record, arguing that the privacy and law enforcement exemptions of the state public records law applied. The trial court held that neither exception was applicable, ordering the release of the document. Lawson argues that the privacy exception should apply because the time lapse between when the document was created and when it was created increases the privacy harm.
Under a recent Delaware law, sitting Chancery Court judges may serve as arbitrators in secret arbitration cases between corporations. The Delaware Coalition for Open Government (DCOG) sued the Chancery Court judges to block the scheme, arguing that it violated First Amendment rights of public access to judicial proceedings. The U.S. District Court in Delaware struck down the law as unconstitutional, holding that the secret arbitration scheme was tantamount to a civil trial and public rights of access applied.
After two non-state residents requested records under Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act, Virginia officials denied the requests because they were not citizens of Virginia. The first, a former Virginian, was seeking records about delinquent child support payments he was due. The second, a California businessman, was seeking records for his data brokerage firm. After both requests were denied, the parties filed a lawsuit arguing that the VFOIA's citizenship requirement violated the Privileges and Immunities Clause and Dormant Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Boston College researchers Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre are appealing a First Circuit appellate court decision dismissing their challenge of a subpoena seeking confidential interviews the pair conducted with members of the Irish Republican Army and other members of paramilitary and political organizations involved in the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland. The First Circuit concluded that while the scholars had standing to raise a constitutional challenge the subpoenas, they failed to state a First Amendment claim entitling them to relief. We urge the U.S.