Techdirt: Iowa Supreme Court Bars Newspaper From Publishing Info

Mike Masnick of TechDirt writes:

You would think that to become a state Supreme Court Justice you need to be familiar with the basics of the law -- including famous legal rulings. For example, New York Times Company v. United States from 1971 is a pretty important and well known First Amendment case, in which the court specifically said that preventing newspapers from publishing information was unconstitutional prior restraint. That case relies on a number of other super famous First Amendment cases such as Near v. Minnesota and Bantam Books v. Sullivan. I mean, I'm not a lawyer and I know these cases. You would think that an Iowa Supreme Court Justice would as well.

No such luck, apparently. As the Associated Press is reporting, Justice David Wiggins of the Iowa Supreme Court has blocked the Des Moines Register from publishing material that it had obtained via court records that were inadvertently made public.

Wiggins granted a temporary stay Monday that blocked the newspaper from publishing information obtained from records relating to Des Moines attorney Jaysen McCleary. McCleary argued the records contained private information about his disabilities and finances and were never intended to be public.

The records were inadvertently filed publicly by one of McCleary's lawyers in a lawsuit he filed against the city of Des Moines that alleged he suffered injuries when he was hit in the head by a garbage container launched from a city truck. They consisted of reports from experts who had evaluated McCleary, and were available for months in the state's electronic court records. The parties told the court they reached a settlement in November.

Now, it's entirely reasonable to sympathize with Mr. McCleary. Through no fault of his own, material that he doesn't want public got released. He should be pretty pissed off at his lawyers. But that is no excuse for prior restraint. There is no First Amendment exception for "but that might embarrass the guy" or "oops, he didn't mean that to become public."

The Des Moines Register has made it clear it intends to fight this order...

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