Posts from February 2011.
Posted in FCC Matters

Earlier today, the federal district court in the Southern District of New York issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting from streaming the programming of the plaintiffs' television stations over the Internet or to mobile phones. The plaintiffs include television stations in New York and Seattle, the major television networks, major television studios, and Major League Baseball. began live Internet streaming of the programming of television stations located in New York and Seattle on September 13, 2010, to subscribers located anywhere in the United States ... Read More 

Posted in Public Records

The Charlotte Observer was recently on the receiving end of a wave of criticism in response to public records requests it made to local government bodies in the Charlotte area.  The criticism did not stem from what it asked for per se, but rather who did the asking and why.  

As reported by Julie Rose of WFAE in Charlotte, the newspaper compiled tens of thousands of private email addresses by making public record requests of the City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, and other localities, seeking the addresses of those who had signed up for local government email updates.  Such email updates ... Read More 

Posted in Public Records

A bill introduced this week in the North Carolina General Assembly would enshrine the value of government transparency into North Carolina's Constitution.  North Carolina, like many states, provides citizens with a statutory basis for inspecting government records through its Public Records Act, N.C. Gen. Stat. 132-1 and for attending official meetings of public bodies through its Open Meetings Law, N.C. Gen. Stat. 143-318.9.  However, the commitment to public access embodied in these laws is undermined by their numerous exceptions, such as exceptions in the Public ... Read More 

Posted in First Amendment

I’m going to devote a few posts over the next several weeks to some intriguing cases from 2010 that you might have missed.

One such case is a fascinating decision from the Fourth Circuit, Ostergren v. Cuccinelli, 615 F.3d 263 (2010), in which the Court found a Virginia statute making it unlawful to intentionally publish a person’s social security number over the Internet violated the First Amendment. Judge Duncan’s thoughtful and thorough analysis offers insight into how the Supreme Court’s holdings in Cox Broadcasting v. Cohn, Smith v. Daily Mail Publishing, and The Florida ... Read More 

Posted in First Amendment

Sorry, this blog post is not about the Duke-UNC rivalry.  Instead, it is about a First Amendment decision handed down by a trial judge last month that qualifies as being on the lighter, if not cleaner, side.  The case involved North Carolina's antiquated -- and quirky -- anti-profanity statute.  The 98-year old statute made it a crime to utter profanity on a public highway, but with two of North Carolina's 100 counties exempted -- Pitt County in the east and Swain County in the west.

Judge Allen Baddour ruled in January that Samantha Elabanjo could not be prosecuted for a misdemeanor ... Read More 

A trial court judge in Charlotte ruled Thursday that a defendant in a murder case is not entitled to unaired footage from the A&E series The First 48.  The case presented an interesting twist on shield law issues.

Jonathan Fitzgerald has been charged with the murder of Oscar Alvarado Chavez, who was stabbed to death in his car in August 2010 in Charlotte.  The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has entered into a contract with the producers of The First 48 to give the show access to officers investigating homicides.  The premise of the show is that if a suspect is not identified within the ... Read More 

The North Carolina Court of Appeals earlier this week made an important statement in favor of courtroom access, affirming a lower court ruling that had declined to close proceedings in a family law dispute.  The decision, in the case of France v. France, was significant in that the parties had sought to close proceedings on the basis of a confidentiality provision in a separation agreement.

The parties to the case entered into a separation agreement in 2007, which contained various confidentiality provisions.  One obligated the parties to "use their best efforts so that any reference to ... Read More 


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