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Legal Defense Fund
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Legal Defense Fund Committee
The LDF Committee oversees the Society's Legal Defense Fund, a unique account that can be tapped for providing journalists with legal or direct financial assistance. Application to the fund is approved by either a small committee or the national board, depending on the level of assistance sought. The committee works throughout the year raising funds for LDF.

FOI FYI: Latest Posts
Show why FOI matters
FOI Win in Georgia: Defamation Law Repealed
The flow of information: Reporting on water in the west

Legal Defense Fund Committee Chair

Hagit Limor
Investigative Reporter
1720 Gilbert Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Bio (click to expand) picture Hagit Limor’s experience with SPJ includes stints as National President; National President-Elect; National Secretary-Treasurer; National Membership Committee; National Finance Committee Chair; current National Legal Defense Fund Committee chair; National Chair of Executive Director Search Committee; Board Member of the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation; and Greater Cincinnati Pro Chapter President, membership chairman and current chapter treasurer.

Outside of SPJ, she serves in dual roles as a professor at the University of Cincinnati's Electronic Media Department and as WXIX-TV's Emmy and national award-winning investigative reporter. Her abilities as a writer and reporter have garnered Hagit more than 100 national, state and local awards, including ten Emmy awards, a National Headliner Award, three national Sigma Delta Chi Awards and as a national finalist with the Investigative Reporters and Editors Association. Hagit received bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University.

Freedom of Information
Covering Prisons
Project Sunshine: Find FOI Help
Accessing Government Records
Shield Law Campaign
FOI Audit Tookit | PDF
Anti-SLAPP: Protect Free Speech
Official Secrets Act bill
FOI Groups
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FOI FYI: SPJ’s FOI Committee Blog
Show why FOI matters
FOI Win in Georgia: Defamation Law Repealed
The flow of information: Reporting on water in the west

FOI Committee
This committee is the watchdog of press freedoms across the nation. It relies upon a network of volunteers in each state organized under Project Sunshine. These SPJ members are on the front lines for assaults to the First Amendment and when lawmakers attempt to restrict the public's access to documents and the government's business. The committee often is called upon to intervene in instances where the media is restricted.

Freedom of Information Committee Chair

Jonathan Anderson
Public issues investigative reporter
Marshfield News-Herald
Marshfield, Wisc.
Phone: 920-676-5399
Bio (click to expand) picture Jonathan Anderson is a public issues investigative reporter for the Marshfield News-Herald in Marshfield, Wisconsin. Before joining the News-Herald, in 2015, Jonathan was a reporter for a pair of newspapers in northern Wisconsin for nearly two years. He has held internships at the First Amendment Center, Wisconsin Law Journal, Wisconsin Public Radio and WISN-TV, and was also editor in chief of his college newspaper, the UWM Post.

Jonathan is an avid requester of public records, and his work in the FOI arena has also entailed advocacy and research. He has been the plaintiff in two lawsuits challenging improper government secrecy. He helped obtain a legal opinion from the Wisconsin attorney general that found University of Wisconsin System student government groups subject to the state’s open meetings law. His master’s thesis, “Resolving Public Records Disputes in Wisconsin: The Role of the Attorney General's Office,” investigated how the Wisconsin attorney general reviews and sometimes intervenes in access disputes. And he has volunteered for the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council.

Home > Legal Defense Fund

Legal Defense Fund

The Society's Legal Defense Fund is a unique account that can be tapped for providing journalists with legal or direct financial assistance. Application to the fund is approved by either a small committee or the national board, depending on the level of assistance sought. The committee works throughout the year raising funds for LDF.

In March 2015, SPJ and the National Freedom of Information Coalition announced they would join forces — and legal war chests — to help citizens and journalists fight for public records.

Legal Defense Fund Auction:
Pitch in and Bid!

You don’t want to miss the opportunity to see the fabulous items available for bid and to network with hundreds of journalists — all for a great cause! Proceeds from this event will go to SPJ’s Legal Defense Fund, a unique account that financially supports journalists waging legal battles to defend the freedom of speech and the press.

Both the live and silent auctions will take place during the Excellence in Journalism 2015 conference.

You can help fight important legal battles that protect the First Amendment by contributing to SPJ's annual LDF auction. For more details and to see a list of ideas we're soliciting, follow this link.

“SPJ and the Legal Defense Fund have provided precisely the support necessary to defend my wrongful arrest in Chicago. Without this financial backing there would be little chance of independent journalists like me to acquire competent representation to take on the resources available to local and state agencies that challenge our right to gather news. Journalists face extraordinary challenges while documenting news events. Having access to the SPJ network of professionals and the LDF is huge.”

— Mike Anzaldi, freelance photographer
Crime scene photographer finds himself on cops’ bad side [Chicago Tribune]

Purpose of the Fund

The Society of Professional Journalists collects and distributes contributions for aiding journalists in defending the freedom of speech and press guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

The primary role of the Legal Defense Fund is to initiate and support litigation that enforces public access to government records and proceedings, which can be the most expensive way to defend the First Amendment. The fund can also be a source of support for FOI hotlines, coalitions and newsletters, as well as for legislative lobbying activities aimed at enforcing public access to government records and proceedings.

Because of the partnership with NFOIC, court fees may also be covered. Both organizations also will use their combined national networks of journalists and citizens to apply public pressure to government agencies that flaunt the law.

All requests for money from the Legal Defense Fund will be weighed with special consideration for activities that will affect the most far-reaching and positive outcomes.

How to Request an LDF Grant

Download and complete a LDF application (PDF), stating specifically the purpose for which you are seeking assistance. Be sure to apply any documentation you have to support your request. Note if you also wish to seek NFOIC funds.

If your request is an emergency, call national headquarters at 317-927-8000 or call the chairs of either of the Society’s Legal Defense Fund or the Freedom of Information committees. Be prepared to email some documentation.

If you have questions before submitting your request, you may email Hagit Limor, LDF Committee Chair; David Cuillier, SPJ FOI Committee Chair; or James Romoser, SPJ legal counsel. Questions about NFOIC funds may be directed to Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation.

It may be helpful for you to first enlist the support of a local SPJ chapter president or regional director. National headquarters can supply names and phones numbers.

Note: A six-person review committee can make decisions on financial requests of up to $5,000 at any time during the year. The Society’s board of directors must review any requests for more than $5,000. The group meets each year in April and October.

Donate to the Legal Defense Fund

To make one-time donations, or to set up monthly donations, please complete this form.

Donor Information

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Your Contribution

Monthly donation: I wish to contribute $ per month to the Legal Defense Fund. SPJ may charge my credit card this amount on a monthly basis.

One-time donation: I wish to contribute $ to the Legal Defense Fund.

Method of Contribution

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Please note: Contributions to the Legal Defense Fund are not deductible as a charitable contribution for federal income tax purposes.

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Society of Professional Journalists
Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center
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317/927-8000 | Fax: 317/920-4789

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