Criminal investigation

FBI failed to follow its own rules when it impersonated The Associated Press in a 2007 investigation

Hannah Bloch-Wehba | Freedom of Information | Commentary | April 28, 2016
April 28, 2016

The FBI failed to follow its own rules when agents impersonated an Associated Press reporter in order to locate a criminal suspect in 2007, according to documents newly released in response to a FOIA lawsuit filed by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and The Associated Press.

The documents further show that after the impersonation became public, an FBI analysis determined that the non-compliance was reasonable, raising questions about the efficacy of the guidelines altogether.

The Reporters Committee and AP sued the FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice last August for records related to the FBI’s practice of impersonating the news media.

10th Circuit reverses dismissal of 'Dateline' defamation case

Bradleigh Chance | Libel | News | July 14, 2014
July 14, 2014

Last week the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals determined that while NBCUniversal reporters did not violate anyone’s Fourth Amendment rights creating the 2008 Dateline segment titled “Tricks of the Trade,” a lower court will have to review the originally dismissed defamation claims made by an insurance broker featured in the piece.

Tyrone M. Clark and his company, Brokers’ Choice of America, initially sued NBC over video clips recorded with a hidden camera by Dateline crew members during an insurance brokers’ seminar in Colorado located on BCA property.

The reporters worked with Alabama law enforcement to gain access to the event since it was only open to licensed insurance agents, which Clark and BCA claimed to be a Fourth Amendment violation of the company’s right against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Court of Appeals says Boston College must release 11 confidential interviews with former IRA members

Jeff Zalesin | Reporter's Privilege | News | June 5, 2013
June 5, 2013

Boston College must turn over 11 confidential interviews with former Irish Republican Army members for an investigation of a 40-year-old murder case in Northern Ireland, but a lower court was wrong to tell the college to release 74 others, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston (1st Cir.) ruled last week.

Colo. judge weighs news organizations' request to unseal court documents in Aurora shooting trial

Emily Miller | Secret Courts | News | August 10, 2012
August 10, 2012

The judge in the shooting-spree case against James Holmes heard arguments Thursday on why court documents should be publicly available, but did not rule on the motion.

More than 20 news organizations are asking Chief District Judge William Sylvester to reconsider his decision to seal court documents in the case against Holmes, accused of killing 12 and wounding 58 people at an Aurora movie theater last month.

Ohio Supreme Court orders unsealing of records in high-profile criminal prosecution

Emily Miller | Secret Courts | News | July 27, 2012
July 27, 2012

The Ohio Supreme Court ordered a judge to release all records sealed during the criminal prosecutions of several Mahoning County officials and business owners. The state high court also prohibited the judge from issuing further orders sealing records in the high-profile criminal-conspiracy case.

“We decide this case based on the Rules of Superintendence, which provide for public access to court records,” according to the opinion issued Wednesday.

Vt. high court rules criminal investigation records remain exempt after investigation ends

Haley Behre | Freedom of Information | News | April 3, 2012
April 3, 2012

The Vermont Supreme Court ruled that records related to the investigation of a crime are exempt under the state’s Access to Public Records Act — with no time limit for when the exemption expires.

Judge: First Amendment bars cyber-stalking prosecution

Chris Healy | Content Regulation | Feature | December 19, 2011
December 19, 2011

A federal judge in Maryland has ruled that the First Amendment protects an online speaker - who made derogatory comments about a religious leader through Twitter - from being prosecuted under the federal anti-stalking law.

Access right applies to post-investigation search warrants

Kristen Rasmussen | Secret Courts | Feature | October 4, 2011
October 4, 2011

The public has a right to view materials filed in support of search warrant applications once an investigation is over, a federal appeals court recently held, adding that the right of access is infringed when the material is sealed because of general concerns that it may be posted online.