Everything online journalists need to protect their legal rights. This free resource culls from all Reporters Committee resources and includes exclusive content on digital media law issues.
This page provides information on Reporters Committee litigation efforts.
Branstetter v. Fallin
District Court, Oklahoma County - CV 2014-2372
Tulsa World reporter and Enterprise Editor Ziva Branstetter and her newspaper filed suit against the state of Oklahoma seeking access to witness interviews, state officials’ email, and other records regarding the botched execution of Clayton Lockett. Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Litigation Director Katie Townsend and Oklahoma City attorney Robert D. Nelon of Hall Estill are representing the plaintiffs pro bono.
2014-12-22: Petition for Relief
2015-03-03: Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment
2015-04-29: Fallin Application to OK Sup. Ct.
2015-04-29: Fallin Brief in Support
2015-04-29: Thompson Application to OK Sup. Ct.
2015-04-29: Thompson Brief in Support
2015-05-15: Response to Petitioners' Application
Hardy et al. v. Kaszycki & Sons Contractors, Inc. et al.
Second Circuit, 16-3273
The Reporters Committee and Time Inc. moved to unseal documents from the 1999 settlement of a class action lawsuit relating to the construction of Trump Tower. Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization were among the named defendants in the case. Plaintiffs in the case alleged that undocumented, non-union Polish workers were employed in connection with the demolition of the building previous on the site where Trump Tower now stands and that the business responsible for the demolition failed to make required payments to construction union funds. The case was dismissed in 1999 after a settlement between the parties and at least four documents, including two court orders approving the settlement, were sealed.
2016-07-16: RCFP and Time Letter Motion to Unseal
2016-08-22: RCFP and Time Reply Letter
2016-08-23: Letter from Counsel to Plaintiffs in Hardy
2016-08-26: District Court's Order
2016-09-22: RCFP and Time Notice of Appeal
2016-11-18: RCFP and Time Appellate Brief
In re Carlson
No. 14-cv-9244 (N.D. Ill.)
The Reporters Committee and a coalition of historical organizations are seeking to unseal transcripts of witness testimony given before a grand jury in August of 1942 in connection with the government's attempted prosecution of the Chicago Tribune for alleged violations of the Espionage Act. The government's attempted prosecution started after the Tribune ran a front-page story at the height of World War II that some believed revealed a closely guarded military secret: that the Navy had successfully cracked the code used by Japanese forces to encrypt their communications. The District Court in the case ordered the materials unsealed. The government has appealed to the Ninth Circuit.
2014-11-18: Petition for release of grand jury testimony
2014-11-18: Memorandum of law in support of Petition
2014-12-24: Government Opposition to Petition
2015-01-09: Reply in support of Petition
2015-12-01: Appellate Brief -- Government
2015-12-21: Appellate Brief -- Reporters Committee
2016-03-05: Reporters Committee Supplemental Brief
2016-12-15: 7th Cir. opinion
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press & The Associated Press v. Federal Bureau of Investigation & U.S. Department of Justice
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, 1:15-cv-01392
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and The Associated Press filed a lawsuit against the FBI and DOJ to force them to comply with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and release records regarding the FBI's practice of impersonating members of the news media.
2016-01-19: Scheduling Order
2016-02-26: FBI Document Production (Part 3 of 5)
2016-02-26: FBI Document Production (Part 2 of 5)
2016-02-26: FBI Document Production (Part 1 of 5)
2016-02-26: FBI Document Production (Part 4 of 5)
2016-02-26: FBI Document Production (Part 5 of 5)
2016-03-28: Declaration of David M. Hardy
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and Stephen G. Bloom v. The Regents of the University of California
No. RG14750683 (Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Alameda, filed Dec. 8, 2014)
The Reporters Commitee and Professor Bloom sued the Regents of the University of California after they denied access to historical records dating from the 1940s and 50s. The records are from the Special Crime Study Commission on Organized Crime in California, which was charged with was charged with exploring organized crime in California.
2014-12-09: Verified Petition for Writ of Mandate
2014-12-09: Memorandum in Support of Petition
2015-01-08: Regent's Demurrer
2015-02-10: Petitioners' Opposition to Demurrer
2015-02-24: Order overruling Respondent's demurrer
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, ACLU of Missouri, and Christopher McDaniel, v. Missouri Department of Corrections
Missouri Circuit Court of Cole County, No 14AC-CC00254
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri and Chris McDaniel, a St. Louis Public Radio reporter, filed a lawsuit against the Missouri Department of Corrections for violating the Sunshine Law by withholding records regarding the state’s recent executions.
2014-06-20: DOC Answer
2014-08-19: Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
Yanofsky v. United States Department of Commerce
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Quartz reporter David Yanofsky filed suit against the United States Department of Commerce seeking access to two databases containing information about foreign travel to and from the United States. Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press attorneys are representing Mr. Yanofsky pro bono.
2016-07-16: Defendant's Answer and Affirmative Defenses
2016-09-29: Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment
Ashley v. DOJ
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, 1:14-cv-01928-RC
2015-05-07: Notice of Voluntary Dismissal
Cole v. City of Los Angeles et al.
Central District of California, Case No. 11-CV-03241-CBM (AJWx)
The Reporters Committee represented freelance journalist Jessica Pishko in her attempt to unseal three Exhibits filed in connection with a motion for summary judgment in the case Cole v. City of Los Angeles et al. Reggie D. Cole, along with fellow plaintiff Obie S. Anthony, III, brought a civil suit against the City of Los Angeles after both were release from prison when their convictions for murder were set aside. The Reporters Committee's representation of Pishko was successful. On February 5, 2016, Judge Consuelo B. Marshall granted Pishko's motion to unseal the three exhibits.
2015-12-28: Motion to Intervene and Unseal
Huseman v. New York City Department of Education
Supreme Court, County of New York - Index Number 151019-2016
Jessica Huseman, an education reporter at the Columbia Journalism School's Teacher Project, brings suit against the New York City Department of Education seeking records related to complaints received by the DOE, equipment purchase records, and salary information under the New York Freedom of Information Law. Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Litigation Director Katie Townsend and New York attorney Patrick Kabat of Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, LLP are representing the plaintiff pro bono.
2016-02-08: Verified Petition
2016-02-08: Memorandum In Support Of Verified Petition
2016-04-04: Respondent's Verified Answer
2016-05-27: Decision of Supreme Court of New York County
In re Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, CBS Broadcasting Inc., Sergio Gomez, Daniel Pacheco, and Univision (Giraldo-Serna/Tovar Pupo)
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, 15-mc-411
The Reporters Committee, along with a coalition of media organizations and journalists, has filed a petition to unseal documents and proceedings in the criminal prosecutions of Hernan Giraldo-Serna and Rodrigo Tovar Pupo. Giraldo-Serna and Tovar Pupo were Colombian paramilitary leaders in the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC, and were extradited in 2008 to face drug trafficking charges in the United States. The docket sheets for the proceedings against both defendants were sealed in their entirety. CBS Broadcasting Inc., Sergio Gomez, a U.S.-based reporter for El Tiempo, Daniel Pacheco, a U.S. based reporter for Caracol and El Espectador, and Univision have joined the Reporters Committee in this effort to unseal the docket sheets, documents and proceedings in these criminal trials.
2015-04-16: Order Unsealing Case as to Tovar Pupo
In re Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, CBS Broadcasting Inc., Sergio Gomez, Daniel Pacheco, and Univision (Mancuso/Sierra-Ramirez)
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, 15-mc-410
The Reporters Committee, along with a coalition of media organizations and journalists, has filed a petition to unseal documents and proceedings in the criminal prosecutions of Salvatore Mancuso and Juan Carlos Sierra Ramirez. Mancuso and Sierra Ramirez were Colombian paramilitary leaders in the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC, and were extradited in 2008 to face drug trafficking charges in the United States. Both defendants have pleaded guilty. CBS Broadcasting Inc., Sergio Gomez, a U.S.-based reporter for El Tiempo, Daniel Pacheco, a U.S. based reporter for Caracol and El Espectador, and Univision have joined the Reporters Committee in this effort to unseal documents and proceedings related to the defendants' respective plea agreements and sentencings.
2015-04-03: Application to Unseal Court Records
2015-04-14: Order to Show Cause (Mancuso)
2015-04-14: Order to Show Cause (Sierra-Ramirez)
2015-05-04: Response to OSC (Sierra Ramirez)
2015-05-05: Request for Entry of Proposed Order
2015-05-18: Motion to Clarify and/or Amend Order
Morrison v. CIA
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, 15-cv-405
Alan Morrison filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency for access to records detailing the legal justification for rendition and extraordinary rendition programs conducted by the United States. Attorneys at RCFP are representing Morrison pro bono.
2015-05-29: CIA Answer
2015-11-23: Stipulated dismissal
2015-11-24: Order of Dismissal
People v. Hincapie
Supreme Court of the State of New York, Ind. No. 10641/90
William Hughes is a journalist who had been researching and reporting on the story of Johnny Hincapie for eight years. Hincapie was convicted in 1990 of murdering a tourist in a Manhattan subway station and has been incarcerated ever since. As part of the hearings in New York Supreme Court over Hincapie's recent motion to vacate his conviction, the District Attorney issued a subpoena duces tecum to Hughes, asking that he turn over his notes, recordings, and other materials concerning the Hincapie case. The Reporters Committee worked with New York attorney Mike Steger to quash the subpoena, arguing under the New York state shield law that Hughes had an absolute privilege against disclosure of his confidential work product and that he met the requirements for the qualified privilege against disclosure of his nonconfidential work product. Justice Eduardo Padro ultimately quashed most of the subpoena but allowed for limited disclosure of some nonconfidential notes and recordings, holding that the DA had shown that it could overcome the qualified privilege against disclosure for these materials.
U.S. v. Petraeus
W.Dist. of N.C., Case No. 3:15-cr-00047-RJC-DCK-1
The Reporters Committee and eight news organizations, moved to intervene in the criminal case of retired General and former CIA Director David H. Petraeus, who pleaded guilty to mishandling classified materials, and moved to unseal a sentencing memorandum and letters submitted to the court in support of Gen. David Petraeus. Joining the Reporters Committee are The Associated Press; Bloomberg L.P.; The Charlotte Observer Publishing Co.; Dow Jones & Co., Inc.; First Look Media, Inc.; National Public Radio, Inc.; The New York Times Company; and the Washington Post.
2015-04-27: Motion to unseal
2015-04-27: Memorandum in Support of Motion to Unseal
2015-05-04: Petraeus Response to Motion to Unseal
2015-05-14: Petraeus Response to Further Motion to Unseal
2015-05-14: Government Response to Further Motion to Unseal
2015-05-14: Government Response to Motion to Unseal
2015-05-18: Reply by News Media Intervenors
2015-06-08: Order Granting Motion to Unseal
2015-06-08: Defendant's Sentencing Memorandum
2015-06-08: Exhibit to Sentencing Memorandum (Letters)
2015-06-08: Statement of Reasons