Skip to content

Media coalition supports journalist’s challenge to prior restraint

Post categories

  1. First Amendment

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and a coalition of Colorado news and freedom of information organizations are supporting a journalist’s challenge to a prior restraint ordering him to return records he lawfully obtained from the Denver District Court.

On Nov. 30, 2023, Denver District Court Judge Kandace Gerdes issued an order requiring BusinessDen journalist Justin Wingerter to return all documents he had obtained from a court clerk and permanently delete all electronic copies of the records or risk being held in contempt. The judge’s order came in response to a motion filed by attorneys for the plaintiffs in Farb v. Spay, Inc. Wingerter, represented by Ashley Kissinger of Ballard Spahr, quickly filed a motion to vacate the judge’s order.

In a letter sent to Judge Gerdes on Dec. 11, 2023, Rachael Johnson, the Reporters Committee’s Local Legal Initiative attorney for Colorado, urged the court to immediately grant Wingerter’s motion, writing that the judge’s order “constitutes an unconstitutional prior restraint on speech and violates the First Amendment.”

“A prior restraint barring a news organization from access to newsworthy information poses a grave threat not just to Wingerter and BusinessDen, but to all members of the press — and by extension to the public,” the letter states.

Stay informed by signing up for our mailing list

Keep up with our work by signing up to receive our monthly newsletter. We'll send you updates about the cases we're doing with journalists, news organizations, and documentary filmmakers working to keep you informed.