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Home > SPJ News > SPJ Legal Defense Fund Roundup – March 2017

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SPJ Legal Defense Fund Roundup – March 2017


3/31/2017


Contacts:
Lynn Walsh, SPJ National President, 614-579-7937, Lynn.K.Walsh@gmail.com
Rachel Semple, SPJ Communications Coordinator, 317-920-4785, rsemple@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS – As a free press and free speech advocate, SPJ’s Legal Defense Fund Committee initiates and joins court briefs to support First Amendment and open records cases.

The following are amicus briefs and other action the LDF Committee took in March.

Higginbotham v. City of New York
This case argues on behalf of the constitutional right of the press to record police activity in public. SPJ joins the National Press Photographers Association and other media organizations supporting Doug Higginbotham, a photojournalist, who was arrested while shooting video of a 2011 Occupy demonstration from on top of a phone booth. His charges for disorderly conduct were dismissed, but the brief for Higginbotham’s case against the arresting officers asks the court to expressly recognize the First Amendment right to record police activity in public.

Read the full brief here.

Weaver v. Massachusetts
SPJ joins the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and other media organizations in defending the public’s right of access in court proceedings. The case concerns the court being closed due to overcrowding and the public’s right of access to jury selection. Opening jury selection to the public helps to ensure a fair trial and the integrity of the criminal justice system. Closing these proceedings due to courtroom capacity removes an aspect of transparency and accountability in the judicial system, and violates both the First and Sixth Amendments.

Read the full brief here.

Abdur-Rashid and Hasmi v. NYPD
This brief supports a review of a prior court’s decision and urges the court to reject the use of a Glomar response — refusal to confirm or deny that requested records exist—by the New York Police Department. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, SPJ and other organizations highlight the effect that permitting this use of the Glomar response under state law would have on New York’s Freedom of Information Law, the overuse of the Glomar response federally and the importance of the FOIL to help news media keep the public informed about NYPD and government conduct.

Read the full brief here.

SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. The First Amendment also guarantees the press and the public a right of access to criminal trials, including pretrial proceedings, and documents submitted in connection with them.

The LDF Committee also oversees the Legal Defense Fund, a unique account that can be used to provide journalists with legal or direct financial assistance.

SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a member, give to the Legal Defense Fund, or give to the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation.

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