Idaho federal court strikes down "ag-gag" law

Kimberly Chow | Newsgathering | News | August 4, 2015
August 4, 2015

The U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho struck down Idaho’s “ag-gag” law, which criminalized undercover investigations in which animal cruelty was filmed and publicized.

A coalition of animal right groups and activists challenged the law, and the Reporters Committee led a coalition of sixteen news organizations in filing an amicus brief in December, arguing that the law infringed on constitutionally protected newsgathering rights.

Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Wasden

December 4, 2014

The Animal Legal Defense Fund sued the attorney general of Idaho over Idaho's "ag gag" law, which imposes penalties for "agricultural production interference," in essence recording images and sounds on the property of agricultural production facilities. It punishes people who investigate such facilities' cruelty to animals and other unsafe food practices. In supporting the plaintiff's push for a decision in their favor before a federal district court, the Reporters Committee argued that the Idaho law infringes on First Amendment rights of people who want to inform the public about important matters such as food safety. It fails to survive strict scrutiny because it does not further the government's interest in promoting food safety and is not narrowly tailored.

Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Otter

April 28, 2014

The Animal Legal Defense Fund, ACLU of Idaho, and others filed suit alleging that Idaho's "ag gag" statute is unconstitutional. The statute criminalizes the recording of an agricultural production facility's operations without the facility owner's express consent. It also criminalizes obtaining records of an agricultural production facility by force, threat, misrepresentation, or trespass. It defines "agricultural production" broadly, including preparing land for agriculture, handling pesticides, making repairs, and raising or keeping animals, fish, bees, and so on. It includes both private and public operations. The Reporters Committee, joined by 15 other news organizations, argued that the Idaho statute weakens food safety guarantees at the same time it stifles free speech. Journalists' investigations into meat-processing facilities have long been credited with advancing the safety of the food the public consumes.


August 1, 2012

Summary of statute(s): An individual may record or disclose the contents of a wire, oral or electronic communication if he or she is a party to the communication, or has received prior consent from one of the parties. The state provides both civil and criminal penalties for violators.

In-person conversations: At least one party must give consent in order to record an in-person conversation. Idaho Code Ann. § 18-6702.

Federal court grants media organizations full access to Idaho execution

Amanda Simmons | Newsgathering | News | June 11, 2012
June 11, 2012

The media will be able to view the full execution of an Idaho death row inmate scheduled to be put to death tomorrow after a federal appeals court granted the journalists' request late Friday.

The decision grants The Associated Press and 16 other media organizations’ request for complete access to the execution of convicted murderer Richard A. Leavitt, which is scheduled to take place Tuesday.

Media organizations request full access to Idaho execution in federal court

Amanda Simmons | Newsgathering | News | June 8, 2012
June 8, 2012

A federal appeals court heard oral arguments Thursday in The Associated Press and 16 other media organizations’ request for full viewing access to an Idaho execution.

AP Photo

The Idaho execution chamber


May 1, 2012


Idaho judge seals case in teacher sex-abuse scandal

Daniel Skallman | Secret Courts | Feature | October 5, 2010
October 5, 2010

An Idaho district court granted a county prosecutor’s request to seal court documents and proceedings from the public last month in a case involving a junior high school teacher accused of sexually abusing an underage student online, according to The Times-News of Twin Falls, Idaho.

Judge orders agency to release Idaho ranchers' addresses

Stephen Miller | Freedom of Information | Feature | September 15, 2010
September 15, 2010

A U.S. District Court in Idaho ruled Monday that the public’s right to know outweighed personal privacy interests in a federal Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought against the Bureau of Land Management by two environmental groups, according to court documents.

Death penalty proceeding to be open, after all

Stacey Laskin | Secret Courts | Quicklink | July 17, 2008
July 17, 2008

A federal judge in Idaho reversed his own decision closing a sentencing-related hearing today in the case of a man convicted of killing four people, including two children.