This section covers access to courts. Courtrooms traditionally have been open to the public, but judges often close proceedings or seal documents when they feel secrecy is justified. This section also covers state and federal laws governing camera coverage of trials.
Digital Journalist's Legal Guide
Everything online journalists need to protect their legal rights. This free resource culls from all Reporters Committee resources and includes exclusive content on digital media law issues.
Prosecutors sought a broad gag order against Matthew Clendennen, one of more than 100 motorcycle riders arrested after a May shootout outside a restaurant in Waco, Texas, in which 9 people were killed and 18 injured. The court granted an order preventing all attorneys, their staff, law enforcement, and witnesses who have given statements to law enforcement from talking to the media about Clendennen's case. Clendennen appealed, and an amicus coalition led by the Reporters Committee argued that the gag order violated both the First Amendment and the Texas constitution because it was overbroad and vague. The trial court had made no findings that the news coverage of the incident was inflammatory or prejudicial, focusing instead on the quantity of news coverage.