The Volokh Conspiracy

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Volokh Conspiracy

Newspaper ordered not to publish court document that had been published on the court system's site


Thomas B. Scheffey (Connecticut Law Tribune / Journal Inquirer) reports:

In a ruling from the bench this week, New Britain Superior Court Judge Stephen Frazzini enjoined the Connecticut Law Tribune from publishing an article based on a court document that had previously been published on the Judicial Department website….

Frazzini's oral ruling is currently sealed, but [Connecticut Law Tribune lawyer Daniel J.] Klau said he is working to have it unsealed.

"I am actually under a restraining order about what I can tell my own client. There are some things that I can share," said Klau, of the Hartford office of McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter.

"What the Law Tribune can say," he said, "is that in a child protection case on the juvenile court docket, the court granted a party's request for an injunction barring the Connecticut Law Tribune from publishing information that it lawfully obtained about the case."

Seems very likely to be a First Amendment violation. Even if the information shouldn't have been published in the first place, once it's released to the public even after-the-fact civil liability can't be imposed, see, e.g., Florida Star v. B.J.F. (1989); an injunction is even less likely to be constitutionally permissible, see, e.g., the Pentagon Papers case (1971).

The case seems to be Foy v. Katz, in which father Eric Foy claims that his three children were unjustifiably placed in foster care; I know nothing more about the rights or wrongs of that particular claim. Thanks to John Griffin and Roger Schlafly for the pointer.