Justia Massachusetts Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Communications Law
The court considered three petitions for relief under G.L.c. 211, section 3, that related to the OpenCourt pilot project, which broadcasts live by "streaming" over the Internet video and audio recordings of certain proceedings taking place in the Quincy District Court. Each petition challenged one or more orders of a judge in the Quincy District Court concerning the broadcasts and online posting of particular proceedings in two different criminal cases. The court concluded that any order restricting OpenCourt's ability to publish -- by "streaming live" over the Internet, publicly archiving on the Web site or otherwise -- existing audio and video recordings of court room proceedings represented a form of prior restraint on the freedoms of the press and speech protected by the First Amendment and art. 16 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, as amended by art. 77 of the Amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution. Such an order could be upheld only if it was the least restrictive, reasonable measure necessary to protect a compelling governmental interest. In the Barnes case, the court vacated the order of the district court judge requiring the redaction of the minor alleged victim. In the Diorio case, the court concluded that Diorio had not met the heavy burden of justifying an order of prior restraint with respect to the specific proceedings at issue in his petition for relief. The court requested the Supreme Judicial Court's judiciary-media committee submit a set of guidelines of the operation of the OpenCourt project. View "Commonwealth v. Barnes" on Justia Law