Access to Courts

CMLP and Cyberlaw Clinic Ask Supreme Judicial Court to Affirm Public Right of Access to Inquest Records

With the help of Harvard Law School's Cyberlaw Clinic, the Citizen Media Law Project and a coalition of New England media and advocacy organizations submitted an amicus curiae brief last week to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, seeking to ensure a public right of access to inquest materials that will allow journalists, bloggers, and other news gatherers to inform citizens on matters of public concern.

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Eric Robinson and Reporter Ron Sylvester Discuss Social Media in the Courtroom on Lawyer2Laywer

CMLP contributor Eric P.

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Using the Internet During Trial: What About Judges?

Over the past year, we've watched the courts struggle with Internet and social media use involving a variety of actors.

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Courts In Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, Florida Declare Mistrials After Juror Internet Research

Appeals courts in Colorado, Maryland and New Jersey are the first to reverse jury verdicts because of social media use by jurors during trial.

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Florida Court Restricts Reporter's Use of Laptop During Murder Trial

As if there hasn't been enough judicial scrutiny of live media coverage during ongoing trials recently, last week a Florida court banned a Florida Times-Union reporter from live-blogging during a high-profile murder trial in the Fourth Judicial Circuit Court of Duval County, Florida.

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Circuit Court v. Florida Times-Union

Date: 

01/14/2010

Threat Type: 

Denial of Access

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Morris Publishing Co., LLC, d/b/a The Florida Times-Union

Type of Party: 

Government

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Organization

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State

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Circuit Court of the Fourth Judicial Circuit of the State of Florida, in and for Duval County (trial level); District Court of Appeal First District of Florida (appeal)

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162006CF018283; 162006CF018284; 162006CF018285;

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George D. Gabel, Jr., Timothy J. Conner; Jennifer A. Mansfield; Gigi Rollini - Holland & Knight, LLP

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Blog

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Pending

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On January 14, 2010, during the second day of a high-profile murder trial, Circuit Judge L. Page Haddock of the Fourth Judicial Circuit Court in Duval County, Florida, ordered a reporter for the Florida Times-Union's Jacksonville.com to stop live-blogging the trial. Reporter Bridget Murhpy had been posting her live updates to a Jacksonville.com page dedicated to the trial, which also hosts streaming video coverage of the trial. 

The judge stated that that the computer was distracting the jury and that live-blogging violates a Florida Supreme Court order about how many transmitting devices are allowed in a courtroom.  According to regular court practice in the jurisdiction, one television camera and one still photographer also were covering the proceedings, and the judge ruled that only two devices total were permitted.  Later that day, counsel for the newspaper presented argument before the court and filed a written motion, but Judge Haddock denied its motion to allow live-blogging. (The judge's order and the newspaper's motion are contained in Exhibits 1 and 3 of Petitioner's Appendix.) 

The next day, Judge Haddock issued an amended order (contained in Exhibit 5 of the Petitioner's Appendix), which appears to allow use of electronic media on a limited basis.  According to MediaPost, the Times-Union is interpreting the new order as allowing it to alternate between taking still photos and live-blogging in the case.

On January 15, the newspaper filed an emergency petition with the District Court of Appeal for review of the trial court's orders.

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1/20/10 - The District Court of Appeal granted the petition for emergency appeal and quashed the order denying the newspaper's motion for laptop access. He appellate court sent the case back to the trial court with instructions to allow the newspaper's reporter to use a laptop in the courtroom "unless the court finds a specific factual basis to conclude that such use cannot be accommodated without undue distraction or disruption."  According to Jacksonville.com, this ruling was fiollowed by a new decision from Judge Haddock that leaves in place the reporting restrictions he imposed on January 15. 

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Supreme Court Blocks Video Streaming of Prop 8 Trial

YouTube Court This afternoon, the Supreme Court put the final kibosh on video streaming of the Prop 8 trial to five federal courthouses around the nation.  The Court stayed U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker's order permitting the broadcast.  The stay will remain in force for the foreseeable future, putting an end to the controversy for practical purposes.

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Will This Revolution Be YouTubed?

YouTube CourtThere are a couple of laws in California that the U.S. Supreme Court should consider before it announces tomorrow whether or not the Proposition 8 trial can be broadcast on YouTube: § 240 and § 422.  These two laws don't address same-sex marriage, discrimination, or even access to courts, as you may have expected.  Instead, these sections of the California Penal Code make it a crime to either assault or threaten to use violence against another person. 

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CMLP Publishes Guide to Live-Blogging and Tweeting from Court

As part of our legal guide series on documenting public proceedings and events, today we published a guide to Live-Blogging and Tweeting from Court.  Over the past year, we've published guides addressing how to stay out of legal trouble while

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Live-Blogging and Tweeting From Court: Experiences From the Field

In conjunction with our legal guide on live-blogging and tweeting from court, the CMLP staff conducted interviews with journalists and bloggers with experience live-blogging or tweeting from court.

The following accounts are summaries of the interviews and include individual experiences from journalists detailing: successful and unsucessful attempts, correspondence with judicial staff and courthouse officials, general observations, and other practical issues encountered.

For Once, Illinois Federal Judge Lets 'Em Roll: And Gets Bulldozed

UPDATE:  Federal District Judge Joe Billy McDade has issued a letter apologizing for allowing cameras into his courtroom to cover a Sept. 15 hearing on a consent decree settling a school discrimination case.

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California Bar v. Wilson

Date: 

01/23/2009

Threat Type: 

Disciplinary Action

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Frank Russell Wilson

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Organization

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Individual

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Blog

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Concluded

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Material Removed

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The California Bar suspended Frank Russell Wilson for failing to disclose he that he was an attorney and blogging about a trial while serving as a juror.

Wilson served a juror during the trial of a man charged with five counts of felony burglary. He did not disclose that he was an attorney during jury selection. According to the California Bar Journal, even though the "judge cautioned jurors not to discuss the case both in writing and orally . . . Wilson posted an entry on his blog that identified the crimes, the first name of the defendant and the name of the judge, whom he described as 'a stern, attentive woman with thin red hair and long, spidery fingers that as a grandkid you probably wouldn’t want snapped at you.''' As a result of Wilson's blogging, the court of appeal vacated the judgment in the burglary case.

Wilson was given a 45 day suspension and two years probation.  

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2-Normal

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Federal Courts OK Use of RECAP

We blogged last week about RECAP, a Firefox plugin that lets PACER users share federal court documents through a repository hosted by the Internet Arc

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Opening Up the Federal Court System, One Filing at a Time

Anyone who has spent even a few minutes looking for case documents in the federal courts knows what a crusty old system the federal government provides for searching and accessing filings in U.S.

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New York Attorneys Want Devices in Federal Court, But Only for Themselves

Attorneys in New York are hot and heavy (or should that be a-Twitter?) over rules being drafted by the Southern District of New York's Ad Hoc Committee on Cell Phones that may place severe restrictions on bringing electronic devices into the Daniel Patrick Moynihan U.S. Courthouse in lower Manhattan.

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Michigan High Court Sends Message to Tweeters

I blogged several weeks ago about recent cases in which jurors have caused a stir by using social media such as Twitter to communicate about their jury service.  Taking the issue on proactively, the Michigan Supreme Court has adopted a new rule requiring judges to admonish jurors to not use electronic communication devices during trial, and not to use them during breaks to comment or conduct research on the c

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Web of Justice?: Jurors' Use of Social Media

At the start of a trial, the judge usually reads to jurors general instructions about how the trial will proceed. The instructions also tell jurors how they should behave during the trial, including the admonition that they should not discuss the case with others, including both trial participants and outsiders.

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