5th Cir.

Comments on E.D. Texas Local Rule Amendments in General Order 17-24

November 30, 2017

The Reporters Committee submitted comments to the Eastern District of Texas regarding proposed local rule amendments in General Order 17-24.  The Reporters Committee commented on proposed Local Rule CV-5(a)(7)(E), concerning procedures for sealing of judicial records.  The comments highlighted the strong presumptions of public access to court records under the First Amendment and common law.  The comments urged the Court to revise its proposed rule to make clear that parties who wish to file judicial records under seal must file a motion to seal in all circumstances and that judicial records cannot be filed under seal absent a court order that makes specific findings that the presumptions of access have been overcome.

Defense Distributed v. Dep't of State

December 17, 2015

Defense Distributed and the Second Amendment Foundation are suing the Department of State regarding the unconstitutionality of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. The Reporters Committee argued in an amicus brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals (5th Cir.) that the regulations are impermissibly content-based, overbroad, and vague, and appear to criminalize routine reporting regarding defense technologies. The State Department's unfettered discretion to prosecute, coupled with the absence of judicial review, make it impossible to predict whether a reporter could be liable for violations of the regulations, which creates a deterrent effect and chills reporting, the brief argued.

Prosecutors drop bulk of charges against Barrett Brown over posting of hyperlink to hacked data

Michael Rooney | News | March 5, 2014
March 5, 2014

Federal prosecutors in Texas have moved to drop 11 of 12 fraud charges against Barrett Brown, an Internet activist and occasional columnist.

Brown was originally charged with several crimes after posting a hyperlink to materials obtained from a hacked computer in a public Internet chat room. Brown linked to a website that included 860,000 email addresses and the credit card information of more than 60,000 people.

However, as laid out in a legal memorandum, Brown’s attorneys believed the hyperlink charges were too vague, were in violation of his First Amendment right to free speech, and would have a chilling effect on Internet activity.

Reporters Committee praises ruling that Texas Open Meetings Act is constitutional

Press Release | September 25, 2012
September 25, 2012
Reporters Committee praises ruling that Texas Open Meetings Act is constitutional

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press lauded a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans (5th Cir.) on Tuesday that upheld the criminal sanction provisions of the Texas Open Meetings Act in the face of a First Amendment challenge.

Court: Criminal sanctions in Texas open meetings law do not violate First Amendment

Aaron Mackey | Freedom of Information | News | September 25, 2012
September 25, 2012

A Texas law that permits the imposition of criminal sanctions against elected officials who meet in secret does not violate the First Amendment, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday.

Amicus brief in Asgeirsson, et al. v. Texas Attorney General, Greg Abbott and State of Texas

October 27, 2011

Urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (New Orleans) to hold that the criminal sanction provisions of the Texas Open Meetings Act are not an unconstitutional restraint on government officials' First Amendment rights.

Fifth Circuit expedites journalist's gag order appeal

Derek Green | Secret Courts | Feature | August 12, 2011
August 12, 2011

The U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans (5th Cir.) yesterday granted a Texas journalist's request to expedite his appeal of a gag order issued in the pre-trial proceedings of a Saudi citizen accused of the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction in the U.S.

Website refuses to pull deposition, despite judge's order

Derek Green | Prior Restraints | Feature | July 8, 2011
July 8, 2011

Online newspaper The Daily on Wednesday refused to comply with a federal judge’s order to remove from its website video clips of former BP CEO Tony Hayward’s deposition in the ongoing litigation related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year. That decision may prove to be vindicated, as the judge today indicated an intent to withdraw the order.

Public sentencing protected by 1st Amendment

Derek Green | Secret Courts | Feature | May 18, 2011
May 18, 2011

The U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans (5th Cir.) ruled on Tuesday that the public and press have a presumptive constitutional right to attend the sentencing of a criminal defendant. The opinion, in Hearst Newspapers, LLC, aligns the Fifth Circuit with several other federal appellate courts that have reached a similar conclusion, and further establishes that a sentencing court must provide the public with notice and an opportunity to be heard before closing a sentencing proceeding.

Texas journalist challenges gag order in terrorism case

Kacey Deamer | Secret Courts | Feature | May 3, 2011
May 3, 2011

A journalist in Lubbock, Texas, last week asked the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans (5th Cir.) to reverse a trial court gag order issued in the case of a Saudi citizen accused of attempting to bomb various targets, purportedly including the home of former President George W. Bush.