News

Format: 2015-04-21
Format: 2015-04-21
April 20, 2015
A California appellate court reversed course on Friday and vacated what media lawyers described as an unconstitutional prior restraint order. Last month, the court sealed a legal brief filed by the Pasadena Police Officers Association that quoted from a confidential report on the 2012 police shooting of teenager Kendrec McDade. The court’s order also directed the parties to the lawsuit, including the Los Angeles Times, which had long sought to obtain the report, to return all copies of the brief to the court. The police union didn’t move to seal the brief until nine days after it had been filed.
April 16, 2015
In a victory for Yelp and its anonymous commenters, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled today that the circuit court could not force the California-based online review site to reveal the identities of users who had posted negative reviews of a Virginia carpet-cleaning company.
April 13, 2015
An Okahoma trial judge has denied a motion to dismiss an open records lawsuit against Oklahoma Gov. Marry Fallin and Commissioner of Public Safety Michael Tompson. The case involves several requests made by Tulsa World Enterprise Editor Ziva Branstetter under Oklahoma's Open Records Act seeking, among other things, the transcripts of witness interviews conducted as part of the investigation into what happened during Clayton Lockett's botched execution in April 2014, and for email between state officials discussing the issue. Branstetter's requests were pending for seven months before she and Tulsa World filed suit. Katie Townsend, litigation director at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, along with Robert Nelon of Hall Estill, argued before the court last Friday on behalf of Tulsa World and Branstetter.
April 10, 2015
Wednesday’s attacks on the public service television network TV5Monde by attackers claiming allegiance to the Islamic State were unprecedented in terms of scale and visibility, with more than 11 channels as well as TV5Monde’s website and social media accounts compromised. The attacks underscore the need for more news organizations to implement and update their digital security defenses against attackers seeking to embarrass and spread propaganda. Although it is currently unclear how the perpetrators penetrated the network, it shows just how vulnerable media networks can be to this scale of attack.
April 9, 2015
The Reporters Committee has forwarded a letter of Inter American Press Association president Gustavo Mohme to Secretary of State John Kerry regarding the 7th Summit of the Americas to be held this week, calling for a declaration that reaffirms a commitment to freedom of expression and access to information. The IAPA letter calls on President Obama and the other leaders participating in the summit to bear in mind that freedom of expression and of the press is a fundamental human right essential to the functioning of democracy. Public transparency and an environment that empowers diverse ideas are cornerstones of democratic societies, the letter explains.
April 7, 2015
A coalition of media organizations and journalists led by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has filed petitions to unseal secretive criminal prosecutions of four Colombian paramilitary leaders who were extradited to the United States in 2008. CBS Broadcasting Inc., Sergio Gomez, a U.S.-based reporter for El Tiempo, Daniel Pacheco, a U.S. based reporter for Caracol and El Espectador, and Univision have joined the Reporters Committee in this effort.
April 6, 2015
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has submitted an administrative appeal to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser urging her to overturn the Metropolitan Police Department’s decision to withhold footage from police body-worn cameras requested by the Reporters Committee under the D.C. Freedom of Information Act. In discussing the department’s body camera program last week during her State of the District address, Mayor Bowser said that “accountability is embedded, and will be embedded in everything this administration does.” Mayor Bowser also stated that the use of body cameras will be expanded to cover all patrol officers over the coming months.
April 2, 2015
In late February, a reporter for the German daily newspaper Die Tageszeitung (Taz) was suspected of installing a device that monitored and recorded the communications of fellow employees for more than a year. The journalist, Sebastian Heiser, is facing possible legal action for his alleged monitoring and recording of 16 fellow employee accounts with a hardware-based keylogger found on a USB device that he had plugged in to a newsroom computer. Heiser reportedly said upon his removal from the newsroom that he was unaware that the USB device had a keylogger program, but he has not responded to interview requests from media organizations to explain further. So what exactly is a keylogger and should newsrooms be worried?
April 1, 2015
Hannah Bloch-Wehba and Adam Marshall Dozens of state legislatures across the United States are considering legislation that would exempt footage from police body-worn cameras, or "bodycams," from disclosure under state open records laws, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has learned. Though the new technology is supposed to enhance transparency and accountability, the proposed measures may actually increase secrecy.
March 24, 2015
Adam Marshall and Hannah Bloch-Wehba Alan Morrison, a dean and constitutional law professor at the George Washington University Law School, has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency for access to records detailing the legal justification for rendition and extraordinary rendition programs conducted by the United States. Attorneys at The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press are representing Morrison pro bono. For many years, the United States has sought to bring criminal suspects to the United States for prosecution without using extradition procedures, a practice referred to as rendition. After September 11, 2001, the CIA began a program of so-called “extraordinary rendition.” Under that program, detainees would be transferred into the custody of third-party nations, or to secretly-operated prisons known as “black sites,” for detention and interrogation.
March 10, 2015
The Supreme Court of South Carolina has dissolved a prior restraint against a small-town newspaper reporter covering the ongoing legal battle for the estate of singer James Brown. The reporter, Sue Summer, had received an anonymous package containing the diary of Tommie Rae Hynie Brown, who was recently recognized by a South Carolina court as the widow of James Brown. The diary, which was filed under seal with the court, contained passages that seemed to imply that Ms. Brown was not, in fact, married to Mr. Brown.
March 5, 2015
A federal appeals court today invalidated a gag order and sealing order that had been entered in the criminal case against Donald Blankenship, former CEO of Massey Energy Co., who faces charges stemming from the Upper Big Branch mine explosion in 2010 that killed 29 people. The ruling is a victory for the media, which had been unable to access many court filings in the case and had been unable to discuss the substance of the charges with lawyers, parties, victims, victims’ family members, and others, who were subject to a broad gag order.
February 25, 2015
Media organizations are fighting to overturn a gag order and sealing order entered in connection with the criminal trial of Donald Blankenship, former CEO of Massey Energy. The matter is pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
February 13, 2015
The makers of Citizenfour, the Oscar-nominated documentary film about Edward Snowden, have moved to dismiss a federal civil lawsuit that alleges they aided and abetted the “illegal and morally wrongful acts” of Snowden.
February 12, 2015
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has sent a letter to the Virginia House of Delegates urging them to reject Senate Bill 1393, which would exempt crucial information on the drugs used in executions, as well as the pharmacies that produce them and any investigations into those pharmacies, from the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Virginia FOIA). The bill passed the Virginia Senate Tuesday by a vote of 23 to 14.