Civil cases

Courthouse News Service v. Planet

November 7, 2014

Courthouse News Service (CNS) filed a federal lawsuit against a California state superior court for delaying access to newly filed unlimited civil complaints for days or weeks. CNS argued that the First Amendment provides a right of access to civil complaints that attaches immediately upon filing, and its reporters should be able to inspect newly filed civil complaints the day they are filed. A federal district court granted the defendant-court's motion to dismiss, finding that the type of access requested was not required under the First Amendment. The Reporters Committee and 25 other media organizations argued that a First Amendment right of access attaches to civil complaints when they are filed. The brief argued that the public has a right to know what matters are occupying space on court dockets and consuming public resources, and that complaints reveal a wealth of information about how citizens use the judicial branch.

District court judge dismisses defamation claim over N.Y. Attorney General's press release

Jack Komperda | Libel | News | January 15, 2013
News
January 15, 2013

A New York federal judge has ruled that a dentist acquitted of fraudulently billing Medicaid for services he never performed will not be able to pursue a defamation claim against prosecutors who touted his indictment for a "million dollar Medicaid theft" in a press release.

Brooklyn dentist Leonard Morse was indicted in 2006 for larceny and ultimately acquitted the following year. He then sued the New York Attorney General's Office for defamation and other civil rights violations.

Reporters Committee lauds federal court's ruling that secret Del. court arbitration is unconstitutional

Press Release | August 30, 2012
August 30, 2012
Reporters Committee lauds federal court's ruling that secret Del. court arbitration is unconstitutional

A federal judge in Delaware stood up for the right to be informed about important disputes that may affect public health and safety Thursday when she declared unconstitutional state court rules that allow blanket confidentiality in private arbitration proceedings and records.

Libel lawsuit against professional review website dismissed under Wash. anti-SLAPP statute

Andrea Papagianis | Libel | News | April 2, 2012
News
April 2, 2012

The U.S. District Court in Seattle dismissed a lawsuit against a website that profiles and rates lawyers, doctors and dentists across the country under the Washington anti-SLAPP statute.

Judge dismisses libel suit against Virginia television station

Rachel Bunn | Libel | Feature | February 14, 2012
Feature
February 14, 2012

A federal judge dismissed a $5 million libel lawsuit by a former tax preparer against a Virginia television station that allegedly referred to him as “unscrupulous.”

Federal court rules to keep Calif. fire documents public

Haley Behre | Secret Courts | Feature | February 2, 2012
Feature
February 2, 2012

A federal trial court in California granted a newspaper's request for documents in a civil lawsuit involving a 2007 forest fire that burned down tens of thousands of acres northeast of Sacramento, ruling that the writings became public records once they were filed with the court.

Company seeks anonymity in suit over product safety database

Kristen Rasmussen | Secret Courts | Feature | October 19, 2011
Feature
October 19, 2011

An unnamed manufacturer challenging an online database of safety complaints has asked the court to allow it to proceed anonymously, arguing that the public filing of legal documents implicates the very interests the company seeks to protect by bringing the litigation.

U.S. judges to colleagues: put fewer civil cases under seal

Kirsten Berg | Secret Courts | Feature | September 13, 2011
Feature
September 13, 2011

Too many civil lawsuits are closed off to the public, according to the policy-making body of the federal justice system, which unanimously recommended today that U.S. judges limit the number of cases kept under seal.

Filmmaker tries to quash Chevron subpoena

Cristina Abello | Reporter's Privilege | Feature | May 5, 2010
Feature
May 5, 2010

The documentary filmmaker subpoenaed by Chevron in the oil company's dispute over whether it polluted the Amazon rain forest appeared in a Manhattan federal court on Friday to explain why unused footage from "Crude: The Real Price of Oil" should be protected by the state's reporters privilege.

“For him to be turned into an arm of private litigation would undo his ability to do this kind of movie,” said attorney Maura Wogan of Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz, who argued against the subpoena.

In secret case, government agrees to disclosures

Rory Eastburg | Secret Courts | Feature | August 14, 2009
Feature
August 14, 2009

Attorneys representing the federal government in a trial that was held in complete secrecy have apparently agreed to the release of some information in the case.