Access to Courts

First Circuit Webcasting Argument Stems From Long History of Rules on Cameras in Courts

On Wednesday, April 8, the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston heard oral argument (mp3) on whether a trial of a Boston University student sued for music downloading, Sony BMG Music v. Tenenbaum, should be allowed to be webcast live. Federal district judge Nancy Gertner had agreed to allow the webcast, but the recording industry plaintiffs appealed.

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Mistrial by iPhone, New Technologies Present Challenges in the Courtroom

While we are generally in favor of allowing new technologies into the courtroom (e.g., live blogging, webcasts, Twitter, etc.)  in order to make it easier for the public to monitor the functioning of our court systems, sometimes technology can be taken too far. 

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Twitter Moves to Federal Court

The fights over whether blogging ought to be allowed during trials -- and whether it's good journalism -- aren't even over, and a new front has opened in the war over technology and its proper role in coverage of the justice system.

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Live-blogging journalism? You betcha. It's just not always good journalism.

As a young journalist, I remember listening with interest to colleagues recounting long-ago fights for the right to bring cameras into the court room. And while that battle hasn't been won everywhere, it appears nevertheless to be giving way to a new wave of concerns.

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Live Blogging in the Courtroom, Is It Journalism?

One of the recurring themes I've discovered in my reading assignments for law school is that judges are, by and large, not technologically savvy.  Far from it, in fact.  Thus, it was of great interest to me to find an ABA Journal article about U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett, who recently allowed a journalist for the Cedar Rapids Gazette to blog live during the a tax fraud trial in his Sioux City, Iowa, court.

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Judge Gertner Postpones Webcast of Hearing in P2P File Sharing Case

United States District Court Judge Nancy Gertner has postponed what would have been the first live webcast of a federal court hearing scheduled for tomorrow in order to give the plaintiffs in the case an opportunity to seek appellate review of her decision allowing video cameras into her Boston courtroom. 

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Federal Judge in Boston Orders Groundbreaking Webcast of Hearing

United States District Court Judge Nancy Gertner agreed today to allow video cameras into her Boston courtroom to provide live Internet coverage of a hearing next Thursday in the lawsuit against Boston University graduate student Joel Tenenbaum, who allegedly downloaded seven songs illegally over a peer-to-peer network.

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Celebrating Open Access Day

I am sitting in the Berkman Center's conference room listening to Stephen Schultze give an impassioned appeal to increase public access to government information, especially federal court records.  You can listen to his talk through a live webcast feed. Here is a summary of Steve's presentation:

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Online News Site Challenges Secret Court Proceedings

Last Wednesday, the Newspaper Tree, an online news site out of El Paso, Texas, which focuses on business, politics, and culture in the region, filed a motion objecting to an El Paso federal court's sealing of plea hearings and court documents in the pre-trial phases of a large public corruption prosecution.

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Federal District Court v. Newspaper Tree

Date: 

08/06/2008

Threat Type: 

Denial of Access

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

El Paso Media Group, Inc. dba The Newspaper Tree

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Government

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Organization

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Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Western District of Texas

Case Number: 

EP-06-CR-1369-FM

Legal Counsel: 

James C. Harrington - Texas Civil Rights Project; Briana Stone - Paso Del Norte Civil Rights Project

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Website

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Pending

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On August 6, 2008, the Newspaper Tree, an online news site out of El Paso, Texas, which focuses on business, politics, and culture in the region, filed a motion objecting to an El Paso federal court's sealing of plea hearings and court documents in the pre-trial phases of a large public corruption prosecution. That same day, Judge Frank Montalvo of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas ordered the government to file a response by September 5. 

In May 2008, Judge Montalvo rejected a similar motion by a community activist to open the court's proceedings, ruling that the government's interest in the integrity of its ongoing investigation and in preventing witness intimidation outweighed the public's interest in access. At that time, the court released a few documents in redacted form, but refused to provide access to plea hearings (including putting the date of such hearings on the public docket or providing transcripts), plea agreements, and affidavits filed in support of warrants in the case.

The Newspaper Tree has engaged James C. Harrington of the Texas Civil Rights Project and Briana Stone of the Paso Del Norte Civil Rights Project to argue its motion.

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Third Circuit Grants Public Access To Prospective Juror Information

On August 1, 2008, the Third Circuit Court of the Appeals issued its opinion in United States v. Wecht. The opinion is great news for citizen media creators, because the court ruled that the First Amendment confers a presumptive right of access to obtain the names of trial and prospective jurors in a criminal case prior to empanelment. U.S.

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Highlights from the Legal Guide: Access to Courts and Court Records

This is the eighth in a series of posts calling attention to topics we cover in the Citizen Media Legal Guide. In this post, we highlight the section on Access to Courts and Court Records, which provides an overview of federal and state laws that grant you the right to access federal and state court records and court proceedings.

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The Smoking Gun Does the Dirty Work, Finds the Gems Others Miss

The New York Times just ran a fascinating article on The Smoking Gun, a website dedicated to providing "documents--cool, confidential, quirky--that can't be found elsewhere on the Web." The three-person investigative shop in mid-town Manhattan consistently finds -- and publishes -- court documents, government records, and other esoterica that it finds through

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Gatto v. Capeci

Date: 

01/29/2008

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Other

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Jerry Capeci, individually and doing business as Gang Land News

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Individual
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Individual

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State

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Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Richmond; Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division: Second Judicial Department

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Docket No. 2008-1590; Richmond County Index No. 80037/2008

Legal Counsel: 

Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma

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Website

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Pending

Description: 

On January 29, 2008, Domenic Gatto and Atlantic Express Transportation Corp. filed a special proceeding in New York Supreme Court, Richmond County, seeking permission to file a sealed lawsuit for defamatioin against Jerry Capeci. Capeci, a former organized crime reporter with The Daily News, runs GangLandNews.com, a website devoted to coverage of organized crime. On December 27, 2007, Capeci published an article about Gatto.

In a February 8, 2008 hearing before the court, Gatto's lawyers indicated that Capeci's article made statements linking Gatto to organized crime and republished information from a district attorney's affidavit filed as part of an application for a wiretap warrant. According to Gatto's lawyers, New York law requires affidavits of this kind to be filed under seal (i.e., not open to the public). They argued that the court should bar public access to the court file of Gatto's as-yet-unfiled lawsuit in order to stop the press from repeating the allegations in the (allegedly) improperly leaked affidavit.

The court denied Gatto's request. Gatto appealed, but the appellate division rejected his appeal. It also rejected Capeci's motion requesting that the court sanction Gatto and require him to pay Capeci's attorneys' fees. As of April 11, 2008, Gatto had not filed a complaint or served Capeci.

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Source; RSS feeds

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