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As Minnesota’s experiment with cameras in the courtroom during the Coleman-Franken recount trial drew to a close on March 12, 2009 after 34 days of testimony, news outlets across the country had produced thousands of stories about the fight between Norm Coleman and Al Franken over Minnesota’s empty Senate seat. Many of the stories included pictures of the three judges conferring or the lawyers hunched over stacks of documents. Some included footage of the wood-paneled chamber, packed full of lawyers, judges, and reporters. But only a handful mentioned the cameras or discussed the wisdom of allowing them in trial courts.
Court Vacates ‘Wardrobe Malfunction’ Fine, Remands Case to 3rd Circuit(Continue Reading)10/12/09
The Minnesota House of Representatives recognized Sunshine Week 2009 with a unanimous resolution affirming constitutional rights to “freedom of the press and freedom of expression,” but media law commentators questioned the depth of that conviction, pointing to actions designed to increase secrecy earlier in the session.
On April 10, 2009, the Veterans Affairs Department (VA) returned a digital memory card to a radio reporter after confiscating it while the reporter interviewed a veteran at the VA Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) filed a declaratory judgment action in state court Dec. 5, 2008 asserting exclusive ownership of all pictures, video, and written accounts of the Wisconsin high school athletic events it organizes.(Continue Reading)10/12/09
The 1st Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals overruled a Massachusetts federal district judge April 16, 2009 and barred live webcasting of a prominent file-sharing lawsuit brought by several record companies against a Boston University graduate student.
Barely three months into its first term, the Obama administration continued its trend toward an increasingly open federal government by announcing new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) policies and the release of previously unavailable photos and memoranda from the Justice Department regarding treatment of terrorism suspects. However, the President also showed signs that his promise “to usher in a new era of open Government” had its limitations, as he later announced plans to block the release of the detainee photos.(Continue Reading)10/12/09
St. Paul officials continue to face fallout from the September 2008 Republican National Convention (RNC).
Freelance Journalist Initially Given Eight Years for Espionage(Continue Reading)10/12/09
Two American journalists arrested by North Korean border guards on March 17, 2009 will be put on trial June 4 for entering the country illegally and committing “hostile acts.” Limited news and information about the journalists’ situation and the lack of direct diplomatic relations between the United States and North Korea have exacerbated the situation.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed a journalist’s shield bill into law on May 13, 2009, making Texas the 36th state, as well as the District of Columbia, to adopt a statutory testimonial privilege for reporters.
A U.S. District Court Judge in Michigan ruled April 21, 2009 that Detroit Free Press reporter David Ashenfelter could refuse to answer questions about confidential sources based on the Fifth Amendment right against compelled self incrimination.
Two prominent April 2009 Los Angeles Times advertisements which were designed to look like news stories raised questions about whether the newspaper was blurring the lines between advertising and news content in response to declining revenue.
The 1st Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals denied a petition for rehearing en banc brought by the office supply company Staples March 18, leaving in place a panel decision that permitted the plaintiff to continue a defamation lawsuit even though the allegedly defamatory statements are true.
At a March 25 Silha Spring Forum, Stephen Cribari, a criminal and constitutional law professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, said an ever-changing digital landscape has raised questions about constitutional interpretation. “Do we have to adjust the way we live to the Constitution, or do we need to adjust the Constitution to the way that we live our lives in an increasingly technological time?” Cribari asked.
As media coverage of an imminent swine flu pandemic raised concerns around the world, about 80 community members, journalists, journalism students, and professors gathered to discuss health news reporting at a spring ethics forum and town hall meeting titled “Fever Pitch: Does Health News Reporting Leave Consumers Out in the Cold?”