In light of Public Records laws and recent appellate action letting a lower court decision stand that precludes Donald Trump from banning people from his Twitter account, can a government official block a media outlet such as JAABLOG from emailing all judicial officers, and a Public Information Officer?
To help answer the question, the following was sent to Kathy Pugh, Court Administrator for Broward, earlier today:
UPDATE – JAABLOG requests to Jack Tuter and 17th Circuit PIO Meredith Bush have been typically blocked by the powers that be in Court Administration. Apparently, there’s been no lifting on the standard information blackout to the dreaded blog during the pandemic. We’ve got the same request into the Supreme Court regarding the access to courts issue, and we’ll update when more information becomes available …
All the players who have been working double overtime, and frequently late into the night, to make Night Court and emergency dockets an up and running reality, deserve tons of credit. A Herculean effort, in fact, and greatly appreciated.
However, there’s one issue outstanding. With the courthouse closed, Night Court is a private affair, excluding not only the loved ones of the inmates, but attorneys, who only have case specific telephonic access, and other interested members of the public, including the press.
We asked earlier in the process if the hearings, which occur in the fully wired First Appearances courtroom that is already utilized to live broadcast bond court proceedings in the Sun Sentinel, were being streamed. The answer was unknown, which is why today we reached out to the Sentinel.
Here is the response:
Our authorization agreement with Broward only covers first appearance magistrate court twice daily and once on weekends.
Accordingly, questions remain:
Is Night Court being broadcast to the public elsewhere?
Is Night Court excluded from normal public access laws and rules?
Can Jack Tuter arrange to have the Sun Sentinel or other easily accessible providers carry Night Court Live! for the sake of the community and for the duration of the shutdown?
Please add a comment if anything else comes to mind, or if further information is available. We’ll update with anything else we learn …