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OpenCourt Memo of Law

OpenCourt Memo of Law

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Published by WBUR
OpenCourt's Memorandum of Law in support of intervening in a case between the Norfolk District Attorney and the Justices of the Quincy District Court that asks for "injunctive relief" from OpenCourt's coverage.
OpenCourt's Memorandum of Law in support of intervening in a case between the Norfolk District Attorney and the Justices of the Quincy District Court that asks for "injunctive relief" from OpenCourt's coverage.

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Published by: WBUR on Jul 16, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/16/2012

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COMMONWEALTHOFMASSACHUSETTSNORFOLK,
ss.
SUPERIORCOURTDEPARTMENTOFTHETRIALCOURTCIVILACTIONNO.1201120
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THEDISTRICTATTORNEYFORTHENORFOLKDISTRICT,Plaintiff,v.JUSTICESOFTHEQUINCYDISTRICTCOURT,Defendants.
MEMORANDUMOFLAWOFOPENCOURTINSUPPORTOFEMERGENCYMOTIONTOINTERVENEANDINOPPOSITIONTOPLAINTIFF'SREQUESTFORPRELIMINARYINJUNCTIVERELIEF
ChristopherT.Bavitz(BBO#672200)AssistantDirector,CyberlawClinicBerkmanCenterforInternet
&
SocietyHarvardLawSchool23EverettStreet,2ndFloorCambridge,Massachusetts02138(617)495-7547LawrenceS.Elswit(BBO#153900)BostonUniversityOfficeoftheGeneralCounsel125BayStateRoadBoston,Massachusetts02215(617)353-2326
 
INTRODUCTIONANDBACKGROUND
TrusteesofBostonUniversity,d/b/aWBUR-FM,andOpenCourt("OpenCourt"),(a)petitionsthisCourttoallowittointerveneintheabove-captionedcase;and(b)urgesthisCourttodenytheinjunctivereliefsoughtbyplaintiff,theDistrictAttorneyfortheNorfolkDistrict(the"NorfolkDA"orthe"DA").ThecaseconcernsOpenCourt'songoingmediacoverageofpublicproceedingsthattakeplaceatQuincyDistrictCourt.ThereliefsoughtbytheNorfolkDAwoulddramaticallylimitOpenCourt's(andonlyOpenCourt's)abilitytocoverproceedingsinQuincy.ThecasethusdirectlyrelatestoOpenCourtandwillhaveaconcreteandadverseimpactonitscontinuingabilitytofunction.WBUR,BostonUniversity'spublicradiostation,wasawardedagrantbytheKnightFoundationtoestablishtheOpenCourtproject.Formorethanayear,OpenCourthaslivestreamedandofferedaccesstoanarchiveofaudiovisualrecordingsofproceedingsinQuincyDistrictCourt'sFirstSession,withtheQuincyDistrictCourt'spermission,throughitswebsite(http://www.opencourt.us).
It
hasalsoofferedfreeWiFitothoseinthegalleryatthecourthouse,enablingmembersofthepublictoattendandblogaboutcourtproceedings.OpenCourthasimplementedprocedurespursuanttowhichitispreparedtorespondtorequestsfromprosecutors,defenselawyers,andothers,toremoveinformationfromitsonlineaudiovisualarchiveinappropriatecases.OpenCourt'sday-to-dayoperationsinQuincyhaveproceededsmoothlyandhavebeenwell-receivedbymembersofthepublic,whohaveexpressedtheirappreciationforOpenCourt'sworkinfacilitatingatransparentjudicialprocess.TheNorfolkDAhasfileddozensofmotionsseekingtoprohibitOpenCourtfromlivestreamingorarchivingspecificproceedings.Thosemotionsweregenerallydenied.TwocasesarisingoutofOpenCourt'sactivitiesintheFirst
1
 
Session-onebroughtbytheNorfolkDAonbehalfoftheCommonwealthandanotherbroughtbytheCommitteeforPublicCounselServicesonbehalfofacriminaldefendant-reachedtheS.J.c.lastfall;inasingleconsolidateddecision,theCourtruledresoundinglyinfavorofOpenCourt,holdingthattheDistrictCourtcouldnotissueordersrequiringredactionstoOpenCourt'sarchivedaudiovisualrecordings,becausesuchorderswouldconstituteunlawfulpriorrestraints.Commonw.v.Barnes,461Mass.644(2012).Recently,JusticeMarkS.Coven,FirstJusticeoftheQuincyDistrictCourt,grantedOpenCourtpermissiontobeginlivestrearningandarchivingjurytrialsinQuincyDistrictCourt'sJuryRoomA.JusticeCovenexercisedhisdiscretionunderMassachusettslawtomanageadministrativematters
in
thecourtroom,consistentwiththestrongpresumptioninfavorofaccessunderSupremeJudicialCourtRule1:19("Rule1:19").OpenCourt'soperationsinJuryRoomAwillbesubjecttoasetofgeneralguidelines(the"June25
th
Guidelines")promulgatedbyJusticeCoven.'JusticesinJuryRoomAwillreviewOpenCourt'saccessonacase-by-case(and,indeed,witness-by-witness)basisasquestionsaboutOpenCourt'soperationsariseday-to-day,subjecttoRule1:19.TheNorfolkDAasksthisCourttoissueaninjunctionpreventingOpenCourtfromcoveringproceedingsinJuryRoomAstartingnextMonday,June16
th.
Fundamentally,theDAseekstotumonitsheadthepresumptionthatcamerasareallowedintotrialcourtsintheCommonwealthpursuanttoRule1:19.ManyallegationsintheNorfolkDA'sVerifiedComplaint(the"Complaint")lackfactualsupport.Moreover,theoverwhelmingmajorityoftheDA'sargumentsagainstallowingOpenCourttocoverjurytrialsaredirectedtohypotheticalscenariosthat-iftheyshouldariseinthefuture-canbeaddressedbyatrialjudgeinaposition
1
OpenCourtdoesnothereindefendorendorsetheJune25
th
Guidelines,someofwhichseemtoundulyrestrictOpenCourt'srighttopublishinformationthatitlawfullyobtainsinopenandpublicproceedingsandtotreatOpenCourtinamannerdifferentfromothermediaorganizations.2

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