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National News Media Join 9th Cir. Case on Public Access in CA Courts

Posted By Administration, Monday, November 17, 2014

National newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and New York Times, have joined in a pending Ninth Circuit case challenging press access delays in California courts.

The underlying case was brought by Courthouse News against Ventura's court clerk over delays in access to new complaints that ran up to a month. The delay sapped the news out of important legal battles, for example, over water rights and wind farms.

"Having access to complaints is an important component of reporting on the legal system and the judicial branch," said the brief by The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 25 media organizations, including The Associated Press, Dow Jones & Company, Bloomberg L.P., The New Yorker, News Corporation and The Seattle Times Company.

"Civil complaints are most newsworthy the day they are filed, and, accordingly, the media is most likely to report on lawsuits of public interest and concern at that time," said the signatories, also including The E.W. Scripps Company, Gannett Company, Hearst Corporation and the McClatchy Company.

The journey of the case began three years ago when it was filed in federal court in Los Angeles. Judge Manuel Real dismissed on abstention grounds, saying the matter was for state courts to decide.

The Ninth Circuit reversed.

"Open government has been a hallmark of our democracy since our nation's founding," said the opinion by Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw joined by Mary Murguia and John Noonan.

Read the whole story at Courthouse News Service

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