Courthouse News Service v. Planet

July 7, 2017

Courthouse News Service (CNS) challenged the policy of the Ventura County state court clerk of delaying disclosure of unlimited civil complaints to the public. CNS argued that it has a constitutional right to timely access the complaints that attaches immediately upon filing. After the lower court held that CNS had a right of timely access to the civil complaints, Planet appealed the decision. The Reporters Committee and 27 other media organizations argued that prompt access to civil complaints benefits the public because timeliness affects newsworthiness, prompt access promotes more accurate reporting, and prompt access promotes public understanding of the matters occupying the courts' dockets. The amici also argued that any information concerning CNS's business model should have no bearing on the question of whether a constitutional violation occurred: a news organization's for-profit status does not change the fundamental importance of the First Amendment right of access to judicial proceedings and records.