Media and Watchdog Groups File Briefs Supporting ACLU’s Challenge to Death Penalty Secrecy

Affiliate: ACLU of Missouri
March 31, 2014 12:00 am

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ACLU of Missouri
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ST. LOUIS – Last November, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri tried to intervene on publisher Larry Flynt’s behalf to unseal court records related to Missouri’s execution of Joseph Franklin, who was responsible for paralyzing Flynt in 1978.

In December, the district court refused to allow Flynt the right to intervene, saying Flynt has only a generalized interest in the subject of the litigation. Today, two public watchdog organizations and 13 media companies that have also asked courts to unseal records have filed amici briefs supporting the ACLU’s appeal of the district court’s decision.

The organizations include Public Citizen; the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press; Missouri Press Association; Advance Publications, Inc.; American Society of News Editors; Association of Alternative Newsmedia; Courthouse News Service; First Amendment Coalition; The McClatchy Company; MediaNews Group, Inc. d/b/a Digital First Media; National Press Photographers Association; the New York Times Company; Newspaper Association of America; POLITICO LLC; and the Washington Post.

“Concerned citizens and the media are watchdogs of our government and often seek access to sealed court documents,” explains Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri. “If the district court’s decision is allowed to stand, it would be nearly impossible for any member of the media or the general public to challenge a decision to keep court records secret.”

The ACLU of Missouri Foundation is a non-partisan, not-for-profit membership 501(c)(4) organization dedicated to defending and expanding the constitutional rights and civil liberties of all Missourians guaranteed by the U.S. and Missouri Constitutions, and is an affiliate of the national ACLU.

Copies of the amici briefs and other case documents can be found on the ACLU of Missouri’s website.

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