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.
The Washington Post sought access to completed jury questionnaires in the criminal trial of former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell and his wife in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The district court released the completed questionnaires, but with names and juror numbers redacted, making it impossible for the public to know which questionnaires corresponded with empaneled jurors. The Washington Post filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in the Fourth Circuit, seeking an order directing the district court to identify which questionnaires were completed by seated jurors. The Reporters Committee and 22 media organizations filed an amicus brief, arguing that the First Amendment provides a presumptive right of access to juror questionnaires, which are merely a written form of oral voir dire, which is presumptively open to the public. The brief argues that the right of access includes the right to identify which questionnaires match with seated jurors.