Pasadena Police Officers Ass’n v. L.A. Cnty. Superior Court

March 26, 2015

In October 2014, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ordered the Pasadena Police Officers Association (PPOA) to release a redacted copy of a report produced by the Office of Independent Review Group for the City of Pasadena that reviewed police department policies in the wake of the shooting of an unarmed teenager. In January, the L.A. Times filed a petition for writ of mandate with the Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, in California for release of the report. The PPOA quoted from the report liberally in its reply brief, which was filed publicly without redaction, and the brief was distributed to the parties. Nine days later, PPOA sought to replace the unredacted copy of the brief with a redacted version, to file the unredacted version under seal, and to have the parties return their copy of the unredacted brief to the court. The Court of Appeal issued the order. The L.A. Times filed a response opposing the order, and the Reporters Committee submitted a letter brief as amicus, along with several other media organizations, arguing that the Court of Appeal order functioned an unconstitutional prior restraint. The brief described why prior restraints are intolerable and stated that the First Amendment protects the media's right to publish information of public concern that the media obtains legally. The brief argues that courts may not prevent publication of information, even when that information sought to be repressed was obtained from a sealed document that had been obtained lawfully by the press.