News

Format: 2017-01-21
Format: 2017-01-21
June 13, 2014
A Colorado district court judge on Wednesday rejected the defendant’s request to close the jury selection process for the Aurora theater shooting trial. Arapahoe County Judge Carlos Samour denied the request for complete closure to the public and the media and the prosecution’s request for partial closure of the selection process. Instead, the court opted to open the entire process, only withholding the names of prospective and seated jurors and the jury questionnaires.
June 12, 2014
In a decision on whether a student could record court proceedings, the Court of Appeals of Georgia stated this week that courts risk harming key constitutional rights by attempting to distinguish who is “legitimate ‘news media.’” Joshua McLaurin, a student at Yale Law School, asked to record criminal proceedings in two different counties in July 2013 for a project examining the experiences of impoverished defendants in the Georgia criminal justice system. McLaurin cited two different Georgia laws in his application: Uniform Superior Court Rule 22 and a section of the Georgia code regarding general standards for requesting permission to record court proceedings. The trial court held that Rule 22 only applies to news media, so it applied the Georgia code instead.
June 6, 2014
The status of a popular U.S. Supreme Court website as a publication credentialed to cover the Senate rests on a credentialing committee's opinion of the site's past and present ties to the site publisher's law firm. SCOTUSblog, a website devoted to comprehensive coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court, still awaits a decision from the U.S. Senate Press Gallery Standing Committee of Correspondents on whether it will receive Senate press credentials. In April, the committee rejected the application of SCOTUSblog editor and reporter Amy Howe and said it would not renew SCOTUSblog reporter Lyle Denniston’s credentials after questioning whether the site fits the gallery’s guidelines for editorial and financial independence.
June 5, 2014
The Delaware Supreme Court dismissed an appeal this week of an order requiring Al Jazeera to file an almost completely unredacted version of its complaint against AT&T from a 2013 contract dispute. Despite having both parties file briefs and deliver oral arguments, the high court threw out the appeal without explaining why.
June 5, 2014
After 30 minutes of public arguments, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit called a closed-door “secret hearing” on Wednesday in the U.S. government’s appeal of an Illinois district court decision to open certain surveillance records to defense attorneys with top security clearances. The three-judge panel ordered everyone without sufficient security clearance out of the courtroom, including reporters and the attorneys to defendant-appellee Adel Daoud. Daoud, who the government has suspected of terrorist activities, was charged with attempting to ignite a bomb at a Chicago bar in 2012. In the public part of the hearing, a U.S. attorney argued that disclosure of surveillance records could harm national security. Judge Richard Posner then ordered the secret meeting, clearing the courtroom of everyone except those with proper security clearance, namely a U.S. attorney and FBI and Department of Justice officials.
June 2, 2014
The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday it will not hear an appeal by New York Times reporter James Risen, who has been subpoenaed to testify in a government leaks prosecution. Risen could now face jail or fines if he refuses to testify. Joel Kurtzberg, Risen’s attorney, said the ball is now in the government’s court. Risen was never held in contempt because the trial court initially ruled that he was protected by the reporter’s privilege and did not have to testify. An appellate court later reversed, and that decision now stands. Therefore, the government will have to pursue Risen’s testimony again in trial court, Kurtzberg said. “If they say they are going to do that, we will make clear that [Risen] is not going to testify and then there would have to be a contempt hearing,” Kurtzberg said.
May 30, 2014
The Supreme Court of California this week upheld a lower court ruling requiring a police department to release the names of officers involved in on-duty shootings. In December 2010, Los Angeles Times reporter Richard Winton asked the Long Beach City Attorney‘s Office for the names of the two police officers who shot and killed a man in Los Angeles. The officers were responding to a resident’s tip about an intoxicated man carrying a six-shooter though the neighborhood. When they arrived on the scene, they found 35-year-old Douglas Zerby. According to the officers, Zerby held up an object resembling a gun and the two of them reacted by firing shots and killing him. When the officers approached his body, they could see that the object Zerby was holding was actually a garden hose with a pistol grip spray nozzle.
May 30, 2014
The District of Columbia's high court ruled Thursday that denials of anti-SLAPP motions to quash are immediately appealable, reversing a lower court order that would have forced Wikipedia to disclose data revealing the identity of an anonymous poster to the company’s site. The case started after Susan L. Burke, a prominent human-rights attorney, filed a lawsuit claiming several anonymous defendants conspired to defame her by making changes to a Wikipedia page devoted to her legal work. Burke requested Wikipedia’s user data in an attempt to uncover the posters’ true identities.
May 30, 2014
A New York appellate court unanimously upheld a decision protecting a writer of Barron’s, a financial publication run by Dow Jones & Company, against defamation by implication and adopted a new standard for determining when implied facts can be defamatory. Plaintiff Maxim A. Stepanov, founder of Midland Consult Ltd. and a former Russian diplomat, asserted that statements in Barron’s article, “Crime and Punishment in Putin’s Russia,” were defamatory by implication, meaning they did not directly state falsehoods but implied them. Stepanov argued that the article implied his company associated with shell companies, drug cartels and weapons dealers, while falsely implying he was a diplomat under Vladimir Putin when he only served under Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin.
May 29, 2014
The Rules Committee of the Cherokee Nation’s tribal council voted 14-3 Wednesday in favor of changes to the tribe’s Freedom of Information Act, extending the government’s records request response time and centralizing requests in a single independent ombudsman. Cherokee Phoenix photo by Will Chavez Protesters gather outside a meeting where a legislative committee was considering restrictive amendments to the open records laws of the Cherokee Nation.
May 28, 2014
The Florida Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday to allow third-party records and email to be admitted as evidence in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a congressional redistricting plan, but also held that the materials must be under seal and the courtroom closed when attorneys discuss the materials. This ruling overturns an appellate court's decision not to let in the records of political consultant Pat Bainter and his consulting firm, Data Targeting, Inc., which Bainter argued contained trade secrets. The League of Women Voters, Common Cause and other democratic voters had wanted to use the documents as evidence in their challenge to the redistricting plan, which they say was created in an illegal manner and unfairly favors Republicans.
May 27, 2014
The Supreme Court decided not to hear an appeal of a New York ruling that said Fox News reporter Jana Winter did not have to testify in the Colorado murder trial of James Holmes, the accused Aurora theater shooter. The lower court’s opinion therefore still stands, and Winter will not be forced to testify. The Colorado court wanted Winter to testify about the sources who gave her confidential information about a notebook Holmes sent to his psychiatrist before he opened fire in a Colorado movie theater in July 2012.
May 27, 2014
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston (1st Cir.) recognized last week a First Amendment right to video record a traffic stop that occurs in a public place. The court’s decision allows Carla Gericke to continue a civil rights lawsuit she brought against a New Hampshire police department. In March of 2010, New Hampshire police charged Gericke with violating a state law that prohibits the unlawful interception of oral communications after Gericke appeared to use her video camera to capture a late-night traffic stop. Even though prosecutors declined to pursue the charges, Gericke brought a suit claiming her First Amendment right to free expression was violated when the police charged her with illegal wiretapping in response to her decision to videotape the stop.
May 27, 2014
The Supreme Court unanimously held Tuesday that Secret Service officials could not be sued by protesters who alleged a First Amendment violation for being moved away from then-President George W. Bush while Bush supporters were allowed to remain. Steven R. Shapiro, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, expressed disappointment over the Court's decision. While the ACLU recognizes the obvious need for security surrounding the president, he said "that does not include the right to shield the President from criticism . . . . In our view, the jury should have been allowed to decide whether this case was actually about security or censorship."
May 22, 2014
The National Law Journal published on Thursday financial disclosure reports from 2012 for 257 of 258 federal appellate judges. Judges redacted information from 112 of these reports. Each year, federal judges are required to fill out financial disclosure reports, and the forms from 2012 are the ones most recently available. The reports help expose conflicts of interest that can lead judges to recuse themselves from cases. They include such information as investments, outside income, gifts, and travel reimbursements.