December 17, 2017

INFORMATION WANTS TO BE FREE:

Iowa Supreme Court justice blocks Register's use of court records (Clark Kauffman, Dec. 15, 2017, Des Moines Register)

The Dec. 11 order prohibits the Register, at least temporarily, from publishing information from court records that were sealed from public view after the Register obtained copies.

"Pending further order from this court, the defendants shall not disclose or share, other than with legal counsel, any information in the defendants' possession that was obtained exclusively from the reports," the order says.

Gregg Leslie, the legal defense director for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, called the court order "very unusual."

"Prior restraint should be a measure of last resort. In this case, we have these publicly obtained documents that were accessed without violating any rule or order," Leslie said. "There seems to be no justification at all for imposing prior restraint on your reporting."

The Register's attorney, Michael Giudicessi, has asked the Iowa Supreme Court to vacate the order, arguing in court filings that "the United States Supreme Court has never approved imposition of a prior restraint against the news media and the court has suggested it would consider doing so only in dire situations, such as matters of national security when the country is at war."

Giudicessi wrote that the order is "an impermissible prior restraint of the press barred by the Iowa and federal constitutions. ... The order unmistakably functions as an injunction directed to the Des Moines Register newspaper and its news reporter, Clark Kauffman, enjoining them from publishing the contents of court records."

Kathleen Richardson of Drake University's School of Journalism and Mass Communication said prior restraint is "the most disfavored form" of government-imposed regulation of speech.

"It is hardly ever found constitutional," she said. "The law is filled with cases in which the courts established that publication of true, newsworthy information, legally obtained, especially from public records, is protected by the First Amendment."

If you want it to be private don't bring it to a public venue.
Posted by at December 17, 2017 10:38 AM

  

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