FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 | firstname.lastname@example.org
The New England First Amendment Coalition recently argued against a New Hampshire police officer’s attempt to use a pseudonym in a lawsuit involving the state’s Exculpatory Evidence Schedule, also known as the “Laurie List.”
The officer was placed on the list — which names police officers who have engaged in misconduct reflecting negatively on their credibility or trustworthiness — and now seeks to have his name removed.
“Permitting Doe to litigate this case pseudonymously will hinder the news media’s ability to fully inform the public about ongoing judicial proceedings of substantial public concern,” wrote NEFAC and a group of media organizations in a Sept. 19 amicus brief drafted by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
“Our nation’s long tradition of open courts facilitates accountability for judges and participants in litigation, public trust in the judicial process, and accurate fact-finding,” according to the brief. “Pseudonymity is a form of court closure; it withholds from the press and public valuable information about cases pending before courts — specifically, the names of the parties.”
The brief was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in support of intervenor Eugene Volokh‘s motion to oppose the officer’s continued use of the pseudonym in a lawsuit against the Town of Lisbon.
“Access to information about this case and others like it, including litigants’ names, enables the news media to produce timely and informative reporting for the benefit of the public,” amici argued. “Permitting Doe to proceed pseudonymously in this case would set a dangerously low bar for anonymity that is wholly at odds with the strong presumption of public access to court proceedings, and recent decisions of this Court.”
NEFAC is the region’s leading advocate for the First Amendment and the public’s right to know about government. The coalition regularly writes and joins advocacy letters in cases involving First Amendment freedoms and the public’s right to know about government. All coalition briefs, advocacy letters and statements can be found here.
NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. We’re a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.
Our coalition is funded through contributions made by those who value the First Amendment and who strive to keep government accountable. Please make a donation here.
Leadership Circle donors include the Rhode Island Foundation, Hearst Connecticut Media Group, The Boston Globe, Paul and Ann Sagan, and the Robertson Foundation. Major Supporters include Boston University, the Academy of New England Journalists, the Society of Professional Journalists Foundation, Genie Gannett for the First Amendment Museum, Linda Pizzuti Henry, Connecticut Public and GBH-Boston.