Amicus Briefs and Letters 2014

Comments on Amendments to Proposed Rules on Electronic Filing of R.I. Court Documents (Nov. 21, 2014)

“These comments are submitted on behalf of ACCESS/RI, the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island, Common Cause Rhode Island, the New England First Amendment Coalition, and the Rhode Island Press Association. They are a follow-up to those we submitted last month . . . [D]espite the changes made in the latest version of Provisional Article X and the accompanying Rules of Practice on October 31st, most of the key concerns we expressed in our detailed October 16th testimony remain.”

Courthouse News v. Planet (9th Cir. 2014)

“The news media and organizations that advocate for the free press and for the freedom of information have a strong interest in the policies governing the right of access to court documents.  Complaints initiate lawsuits and are therefore particularly newsworthy at the time they are filed.  Having access to complaints is an important component of reporting on the legal system and the judicial branch.”

Comments on Rules Governing Electronic Filing of Court Documents (Oct. 20, 2014)

“The establishment of an electronic system of records should be encouraging greater access to records, not less. However unintended it may be, we believe these rules will invert the current default of openness in the judicial process to one that encourages and promotes secrecy.”

Letter to U.S. Dept. of Justice Re: Ferguson, Missouri, Investigations (Sept. 22, 2014)

“As to the Civil Rights Division’s inquiries, we urge investigators to make the unlawful arrest and mistreatment of journalists a part of its formal probe. Because of the connection between the exercise of political freedoms and the freedom of the press, the Department’s mandate to examine the civil rights record of local police in Ferguson, which naturally will be the focus of the investigation, will nonetheless be illuminated by looking at the breakdown in newsgathering protections that occurred last month.”

Letter to Eric H. Holder, Jr., Attorney General of the United States (May 13, 2014)

“Releasing a redacted version of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memo to the Department of Defense explaining the justification for drone strikes targeting U.S. citizens is clearly in line with the Department of Justice’s best practices, and, more importantly, promotes openness and accountability.”

Request to U.S. Dept. of Justice to Withdraw Subpoena Against James Risen (Feb. 28, 2014)

“…countless stories of tremendous historical significance including: the Watergate break-in and cover up, the abuse of prisoners in Abu Ghraib, Iraq, and the systematic lack of adequate care for veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center would never have been written without the reporter’s ability to promise sources confidentiality and keep those promises…”