News

Format: 2014-09-19
Format: 2014-09-19
August 28, 2014
The publisher of The Intercept earlier this week called on the Missouri attorney general to launch an investigation into the arrest of reporter, Ryan Devereaux, during last week's protests in Ferguson, Mo. First Look Media detailed how Devereaux, while with a reporter from the German newspaper Bild, was interviewing protesters when police started firing tear gas. After leaving the area as instructed, he was hit by rubber bullets fired by police. He was taken to jail, detained overnight and charged with "refusing to disperse." The publisher has not been able to obtain information about the status of the charges against him and police have not returned their calls, the Aug. 25 letter reports.
August 14, 2014
More than 100,000 people, including 20 Pulitzer Prize winners, signed a petition submitted to President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder today urging the administration to rethink its policy of subpoenaing journalists to reveal their sources. Seven representatives of free press organizations announced the delivery of the petition at the National Press Club this afternoon and called on the administration to drop its threatened subpoena of New York Times reporter James Risen. Risen has been fighting since 2007 to protect a confidential source he used in writing a book about the Central Intelligence Agency, and he joined the panel at the press conference today.
July 28, 2014
The Texas Ethics Commission fined the head of a conservative advocacy group for failing to register as a lobbyist, but the organization’s leader argues that he should not have to pay because he runs a media organization. Michael Quinn Sullivan is president of Empower Texans, which provides news and information to promote fiscal responsibility in the state government. In June, the ethics commission fined Sullivan $10,000 after finding that he is a paid lobbyist who failed to register in 2010 and 2011. Sullivan plans to file an appeal in state court, said his attorney, Joseph Nixon of Beirne, Maynard & Parsons. The commission explained that even if Sullivan performs some journalistic activities he does not qualify for the lobbyist registration statute's media exception because he does other work as well.
July 25, 2014
A Tehran-based Washington Post reporter and others have been arrested in Iran on unspecified charges. Gholam-Hossein Esmaili, director general of the Tehran Province Justice Department, confirmed Friday that a Washington Post correspondent and his wife, who is also a reporter, had been detained for questioning.
July 23, 2014
The U.S. Supreme Court prevented an Arizona death row inmate from delaying his execution date in order to receive information on the drugs to be used in his execution. The denial overturns a decision by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco (9th Cir.) that ruled capital prisoner Joseph Wood’s requests for information on the drugs the state planned to use to execute him had sufficient merit to delay his execution, scheduled for Wednesday. The state of Arizona asked the full Ninth Circuit court to review the panel's decision, but the circuit court refused Monday to hear it in front of its full 11-judge panel. The state then took its appeal to the Supreme Court, which also refused to hear the appeal but did lift the Ninth Circuit stay to allow Wood’s execution to go forward.
July 21, 2014
The U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco (9th Cir.) granted a death row inmate a delay in execution so he could receive information about his execution protocol, marking the first time a federal appeals court indicated there might be a right to know details about the drugs used in an execution. On Saturday, the divided three-judge panel reversed a U.S. District Court of Arizona decision that denied Joseph Wood the right to know the credentials of his executioners and the source of the drugs to be used on him. The decision came four days before his scheduled execution. The appeals court held that Wood’s questions about the drugs and executioners held merit, while there was little evidence for the state’s concerns that publicly identifying the drug manufacturer and administrators would interfere with the execution process.
July 17, 2014
The Supreme Court of Hawaii this week in Oahu Publications Inc. v. The Honorable Karen Ahn upheld a strong public right of access to criminal proceedings and announced a series of procedures to protect that right. The ruling comes after a trial court judge held five secret sessions and sealed the transcripts of those sessions during a high-profile murder trial. The decision stressed that judicial proceedings are presumptively open. The high court held that, in order to close a courtroom or seal transcripts, a judge must show on the record what compelling interest would be harmed by public disclosure, the substantial risk to that harm, and any alternatives to public access that the court considered but found insufficiently protective.
July 14, 2014
Last week the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals determined that while NBCUniversal reporters did not violate anyone’s Fourth Amendment rights creating the 2008 Dateline segment titled “Tricks of the Trade,” a lower court will have to review the originally dismissed defamation claims made by an insurance broker featured in the piece. Tyrone M. Clark and his company, Brokers’ Choice of America, initially sued NBC over video clips recorded with a hidden camera by Dateline crew members during an insurance brokers’ seminar in Colorado located on BCA property. The reporters worked with Alabama law enforcement to gain access to the event since it was only open to licensed insurance agents, which Clark and BCA claimed to be a Fourth Amendment violation of the company’s right against unreasonable searches and seizures.
June 25, 2014
Two senators crossed party lines in support of legislation that would strengthen the current Freedom of Information Act and diminish agencies’ excuses for withholding documents. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and John Cornyn (R-Tex.) introduced the bill June 24 after the Senate Judiciary Committee held a meeting in March to discuss changes to the FOIA. “The Freedom of Information Act is one of our nation’s most important laws, established to give Americans greater access to their government and to hold government accountable,” Leahy said in a press release.
June 25, 2014
The Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision in favor of digital privacy Wednesday that says police generally need a search warrant to examine an arrested person’s cell phone. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote a sweeping opinion, stating that digital devices contain collections of potentially sensitive information. The Court rejected arguments that searching a cellphone is akin to examining anything else officers might find on someone they arrest. “Modern cell phones, as a category, implicate privacy concerns far beyond those implicated by the search of a cigarette pack, a wallet, or a purse,” Roberts wrote. The opinion still allows police to search cell phones without warrants under “exigent circumstances.” This includes “ticking-bomb scenarios” or instances when there’s reason to believe evidence is going to be destroyed.
June 23, 2014
The U.S. Senate Press Gallery denied the popular Supreme Court website SCOTUSblog Senate press credentials today, finding that the site does not exercise enough editorial independence from the publisher's law firm. The Gallery’s Standing Committee of Correspondents, consisting of five journalists credentialed to cover the Senate, posted a letter to SCOTUSblog’s publisher Tom Goldstein one month after its May 23 meeting discussing the site’s relation to Goldstein's firm, Goldstein & Russell LLP.
June 23, 2014
A district court in Wisconsin denied a motion to unseal documents last week in a lawsuit attempting to end an investigation into Wisconsin Republican campaign finances. On May 1, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, along with four other media organizations, filed a motion to intervene and unseal the entirety of the parties’ filings in the federal court proceeding O’Keefe v. Schmitz et. al.
June 20, 2014
Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Leo E. Strine announced in his State of the Judiciary Address this month that the court is “working on a different approach” to an arbitration program that will replace its rejected predecessor. The initial program failed in 2011 after a federal district court declared it unconstitutional, saying it infringed upon the public’s First Amendment right to access court proceedings. Strine did not provide many details about the proposal, but some experts are worried that the plan could attempt to unreasonably restrict access again. The new program should be up for approval from Delaware’s General Assembly by January 2015, Strine said.
June 19, 2014
New York’s Suffolk County Police Department agreed to take new measures to instruct police on citizens’ recording rights in a settlement following the arrest of a freelance videographer. Phillip Datz, a videographer and member of the National Press Photographers Association, filed a complaint against Suffolk County Police in 2012 after an officer arrested him for obstruction of governmental administration because Datz filmed police activity while on a public street. Before the case made it to trial in the U.S. District Court of New York, Datz and Suffolk County reached a settlement. Suffolk County agreed to develop resources on citizens’ recording rights and to pay Datz $200,000 to cover attorney’s fees and costs.
June 18, 2014
The Cherokee Nation Council passed an amendment to its freedom of information law that will extend the response time to records requests about the tribe’s government. The Freedom of Information Act amendment passed 10-6 Monday night with one councilor not in attendance, after the council also passed an amendment to its Governmental Records Act, which provides government officials access to records. The amendment creates an information officer that will receive all records requests and will be independent of any office within the government. Under the old act, the attorney general handled records requests from the press and public.