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Exeter Township v. Geleff

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  1. Prior Restraint

Case Number: 2022-16476

Court: Court of Common Pleas of Berks County, Pennsylvania

Clients: Jerry Geleff, The Exeter Examiner, The Exeter Underground, Jerry Geleff Media

Entry of Appearance Filed: Dec. 16, 2022

Background: During a Dec. 14, 2022, episode of his podcast, The Exeter Underground, local journalist Jerry Geleff announced that he had obtained portions of a report detailing the findings of an outside law firm’s investigation into allegations of sexual harassment leveled against an Exeter Township official. The same day, Geleff published portions of the investigative report on his local news website, The Exeter Examiner.

The township then sued Geleff, asking the Court of Common Pleas of Berks County, Pennsylvania, to order the journalist to return all physical and electronic copies of the report, and to destroy copies and descriptions of the report published on Geleff’s news platforms, including his podcast, Facebook page, and website. The same day, a judge granted the township’s request.

Paula Knudsen Burke, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Local Legal Initiative attorney for Pennsylvania, began representing Geleff and The Exeter Underground on Dec. 16, 2022.

Quote: “This is nothing but retribution for a very vocal critic who has a media outlet and audience,” Geleff wrote in a blog post about the lawsuit. “They are attempting to silence any dissent of their plans. And they must be stopped.”

Update: On Jan. 10, 2023, Exeter Township dropped its lawsuit against Geleff. In a blog post celebrating the township’s decision, Geleff thanked Burke and RCFP Media Litigation Fellow Charlie Hogle for writing a “brilliant group of briefs” on his behalf. 

Filings:

2022-12-15: Complaint

2022-12-15: Emergency motion for preliminary injunction

2022-12-15: Order granting emergency motion for preliminary injunction

2022-12-16: Entry of appearance

2022-12-23: Motion to dissolve injunction

2022-12-23: Memorandum of law in support of motion to dissolve injunction

2022-12-23: Motion for contempt

2022-12-23: Brief in support of motion for contempt

2022-12-23: Exhibits to motion for contempt

2022-12-29: Scheduling order

2023-01-10: Defendants’ answer to plaintiff’s motion for contempt

2023-01-10: Affidavit of defendant Jerry Geleff

2023-01-10: Praecipe to withdraw/discontinue

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