Press Coverage 2014
Dispute at North Yarmouth Fire Station Leads to Deputy Chief’s Firing | Bangor Daily News 12.11.14
Sigmund Schutz, an attorney at Preti Flaherty in Portland who serves on the board of directors of the New England First Amendment Coalition, said in an email Dec. 18 that while what occurred might violate town protocol, “there is nothing in state law that would prevent an employee from contacting the manager or selectmen about this sort of issue.”
Raimondo’s About-Face Was the Right Move | Providence Journal 12.11.14
Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, said it would be a “missed opportunity” and a “disservice to the entire state” to have “80 prominent individuals discuss something of great public importance behind closed doors.” With the doors open, he said, “The public will now be more informed about the economic challenges within Rhode Island and have more opportunity to evaluate the possible solutions.”
Lifting Camera Ban in Federal Courts is Long Overdue | Boston Herald 12.5.14
“There’s a level of nuance and detail that can be conveyed through a camera that just doesn’t exist in transcripts or written news reports,” said Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition. “It’s a perspective that the public should be provided.”
Reporters Share Tips for Building Effective Source Network | NENPA 12.4.14
[Eric] Moskowitz made his comments at a forum presented by the New England First Amendment Coalition as part of its New England First Amendment Institute. Bill Malinowski, a reporter with The Providence (R.I.) Journal, and Anna Schecter, a producer with NBC News, joined Moskowitz in a discussion on how to develop sources for long-term assignments.
How to Navigate FOIA’s Path to Public Records | NENPA 12.4.14
“Hiding in plain sight” was the phrase Maggie Mulvihill used to describe the process of requesting public records through the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). It was also the title of her presentation during a workshop she and Shawn Musgrave held Nov. 17 for the New England First Amendment Institute.
Panel Gives Tips to Overcome Dodges of Public Records Requests | NENPA 12.4.14
Experts on the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) say the intent of the public records law and how it is executed are often in conflict. The expert panelists at the New England First Amendment Institute’s presentation Nov. 17 on the Freedom of Information Act offered suggestions on how to navigate that conflicted path.
Rhode Island Begins Online Filing of Civil-Case Documents | Providence Journal 11.6.14
A coalition of open-government groups — ACCESS/RI, the ACLU, Common Cause Rhode Island, the New England First Amendment Coalition and the Rhode Island Press Association — last month objected to the Rhode Island judiciary’s proposed rules, citing concerns that they would promote secrecy.
Courts Must Rule in Favor of Access to Public Information | Providence Journal 10.23.14
A coalition of open-government groups are objecting to the Rhode Island judiciary’s proposed rules for e-filing of court documents. “The establishment of an electronic system of records should be encouraging greater access to records, not less,” the groups said in written comments. “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.” The five groups — ACCESS/RI, the ACLU, Common Cause Rhode Island, the New England First Amendment Coalition and the Rhode Island Press Association — called for the court system to extend the public comment period, which ended Monday after less than three weeks.
Rules for RI Judiciary’s New E-Filing System Could Result in Greater Secrecy | Providence Journal 10.21.14
Justin Silverman, NEFAC executive director, said Tuesday: “In terms of accessibility and transparency, an electronic filing system holds great potential. The way the rules are currently written, however, the public will never see that potential.”
Pan Am Railways Loses Lawsuit Against Newsletter Publisher from Freeport | Portland Press Herald 10.2.14
Corporate lawsuits filed to silence critics are not a new threat to free speech, said Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition. “Defendants without deep pockets are more likely to acquiesce to the plaintiff’s demands because they simply can’t afford to litigate the issue,” Silverman said. “This is a significant concern given the growth of small community-based publications and blogs which report news of public interest. It is important for courts to recognize when a company is bullying a publication into silence and to continue to protect its First Amendment rights.”
Governor, Lawmakers Off Limits Under Public Records Law | Detroit Free Press 9.21.14
In Massachusetts, the Legislature is exempt by statute and the governor’s office is exempt as a result of a court ruling, said Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition.
Secretary of State Regularly Keeps Government Records Secret | The Boston Globe 9.14.14
“Litigation isn’t a reasonable option for most members of the public, or even most members of the media,” said Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, which supports open government. “The appeals process is really their only option.”
Change of leadership at New England First Amendment Coalition | Providence Journal 9.14.14
For four years, Rosanna Cavanagh has been a leading voice for press freedom as executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition. So let’s thank her as she steps down and welcome her successor. Justin Silverman takes over at a time when journalists have been detained, threatened or otherwise prevented from covering the protests in Ferguson, Mo., and New England journalist James Foley has just been beheaded by ISIS.
Open Government Groups Criticize Attorney General | Associated Press 8.28.14
The New England First Amendment Coalition called it “a new low” in enforcing the Access to Public Records Act and says the statute’s intent was misinterpreted.
Open-Government Groups Slam RI AG’s Office on Records Opinion | Providence Journal 8.28.14
“The legislative intent of the statute is thwarted by the Attorney General’s new interpretation which in effect replaces the clear meaning of ‘search and retrieval’ with the opposite meaning of ’search and denial.’ If this interpretation takes hold it would make Rhode Island the least access friendly state in New England in this regard,” Rosanna Cavanagh, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, said in the release.
Review Sheds More Light on Jared Remy Case | The Boston Globe 8.23.14
Justin Silverman, incoming executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, said whether Ryan was allowed to withhold the report should not matter, arguing that withholding documents undermines confidence in public leaders to be transparent. “Regardless of where she stands legally or not, she had a duty to the public to disclose that the report was incomplete and that more information was forthcoming,” Silverman said.
Editorial: A Public Appeal | Littleton Record 7.24.14
“In this case, it involved the privacy of an elected official, which takes on a whole new level of debate,” explains New England First Amendment Coalition Executive Director (and lawyer) Justin Silverman. “Without the documents, there is no way for the public to know how the investigation was handled and if the actions taken by the governor and police were appropriate.”
Future Public Access Could Rest on R.I. Gov’s Son’s Case | NENPA 7.3.14
“In this case, it involved the privacy of an elected official, which takes on a whole new level of debate,” said lawyer Justin Silverman. “Without the documents, there is no way for the public to know how the investigation was handled and if the actions taken by the governor and police were appropriate.” Silverman is the former second vice president of the New England First Amendment Coalition board of directors who is the incoming executive director of the coalition.
Silverman Named NEFAC’s New Executive Director | NENPA 6.5.14
Justin Silverman, who has been a member of the board of directors and second vice president of the New England First Amendment Coalition, will become executive director of the coalition, replacing Rose Cavanagh, in September. … Silverman will work with Cavanagh for the next several weeks and take over alone as executive director in September.
Information Requests Cited as Part of Darien Budget Problem | Darien Times 5.29.14
“Given the recent revelations of major systemic violations of federal and state special education laws in the district, [and] the clean up and fall out which has cost the district dearly,” [NEFAC’s Rose] Cavanagh said, “it seems absurd to point the finger at a newspaper and at interested parents for cost overruns, when these groups are only trying to get information about problems caused by the district’s failure to follow the laws.”
Public Must Know About Drones | Providence Journal 5.17.14
The New England First Amendment Coalition is urging the Obama administration to let stand a ruling that would reveal the legal rationale for drone strikes against certain U.S. citizens. … Coalition executive director Rosanna Cavanagh said, “We don’t know who they are killing, why they are killing them or the legal justification for why it is permissible under our Constitution to take away the life of an American citizen without a trial or conviction.”
Citizens Get Crash Course on Right to Know | Nashua Telegraph 3.18.14
Speakers from The Telegraph and [NEFAC Board Member] and Attorney Gregory Sullivan informed a large audience of citizens about the best ways the disclosure laws can be utilized. … Rosanna Cavanagh, a spokeswoman for the New England First Amendment Coalition, spoke highly of The Telegraph’s recent efforts to further advance the use of Right to Know.
Free Speech Group Honors Darien Mother with Citizenship Award | Darien Times 2.14.14
Kit Savage was one of the first parents to recognize problems in Darien’s special education program. And now, her efforts to improve transparency and access to education have been recognized, as the New England First Amendment Coalition recently honored her with the inaugural Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award.
U.S. is Stronger with Journalist in Print, Not in Prison | Providence Journal 2.11.14
What makes you willing to go to jail? That was the main question I had for New York Times reporter James Risen — the Brown University graduate, former Providence Journal stringer and Pulitzer Prize winner who might end up behind bars because he refuses to identity a source. … Risen came to Boston on Friday to receive the 2014 Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award at the New England First Amendment Coalition’s annual luncheon.
National Security Reporter Honored by First Amendment Group | The Boston Globe 2.8.14
Through two presidential administrations, [James] Risen has resisted the US Department of Justice’s attempts to get him to reveal the identity of an anonymous CIA source. His refusal to testify and commitment to a free press as a check on government earned him an award Friday from the New England First Amendment Coalition
Interview with James Risen (audio, begins at 1:05) | Boston Public Radio 2.7.14
New York Times writer James Risen talked to Jim and Margery about his book ”State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.” After its publication, a federal judge demanded Risen reveal one of his sources on the book. Risen refused, and now faces time in prison for failure to comply. James Risen is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, and the author of The Wrath of Angels and The Main Enemy. The New England First Amendment Coalition honored him on Friday.
NY Times Reporter Facing Prison Wins Award | Providence Journal 2.7.14
The New England First Amendment Coalition presented Risen with the 2014 Stephen Hamblett Award at its annual luncheon, at the Park Plaza Hotel. The award is named after the late chairman and chief executive of the Providence Journal Co. and publisher of The Providence Journal, who led the paper for nearly 12 years.
Risen Honored by New England 1st Amendment Group | Associated Press 2.7.14
The New England First Amendment Coalition has honored a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter who could go to jail for refusing a court order to reveal a source. James Risen was honored Friday at the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston with the 2014 Stephen Hamblett Award.
Journalist James Risen receives Hamblett Award | Providence Journal 2.7.14
James Risen, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New York Times who faces possible prison for refusing a court’s order to reveal a source, was honored Friday by a coalition of New England journalists and other First Amendment advocates.
‘The Government Often Doesn’t Like My Reporting’ | WPRI-Providence 2.6.14
Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter James Risen will be in Boston Friday to receive the Stephen Hamblett Award from the New England First Amendment Coalition … Risen talked with WPRI.com about his ongoing court battle with the government, the importance of sources and the state of the First Amendment in our country.
Darien School Board Restricts Free Speech, Later Rescinds | Darien Times 1.31.14
Rose Cavanagh, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, said Hagerty-Ross’s statement seemed “overbroad to prohibit parents to speak about their children.” … “Given the controversy surrounding the school’s actions of late with regards to students’ rights, it may be more prudent for the Board of Education to allow parents to express the students’ perspectives,” Cavanagh told The Darien Times.
Fitz’s Hits: A Journalist Risks Jail for Principle | Providence Journal 1.26.14
Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter James Risen will receive the 2014 Stephen Hamblett Award from the New England First Amendment Coalition on Feb. 7 in Boston. A divided federal court has ordered Risen to testify in the trial of a CIA officer accused of leaking him information. But Risen is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear his case and vowing to go to jail if necessary.
Maine, N.J. Cases Show Need for More Public Access to Records | Providence Journal 1.12.14
New England First Amendment Coalition executive director Rosanna Cavanagh said the Sandy Hook tapes showed dispatchers and first responders displayed “grace under pressure.” But sometimes, 911 records can reveal problems. … [Tim] White, a board member of the New England First Amendment Coalition, said requiring court orders or the permission of callers “absolutely stifles trying to scrutinize what might be an important event” in a timely manner, and it’s extremely rare to access 911 tapes in those ways.