Saturday, July 21, 2018
Is court litigation or criminal prosecution open to the public as it progresses? Normally, yes (unless a judge says otherwise)
Thursday, I posted my comments about the court hearing for the complaint filed by Woodhull Freedom Foundation et al vs. United States, regarding trying to get an injunction against FOSTA-SESTA (see July 19 for link).
I still have yet to find a major media account of the hearing, or anything on EFF or Woodhull’s site on the outcome of the hearing.
It strikes me a curious, given the potential importance of the case. As I noted, the judge sounded very skeptical of the claims, to me at least – although not in a political way, more in simply taking words literally in a statute and applying legal civil and criminal procedure law.
Perhaps it is “rude” for amateurs to comment on “activist” litigation before a judge does, as if it could spook or slant the outcome if a judge found it online.
But I can find nothing in the law that says that the course of any court hearing is confidential, unless there is a very specific instruction from a judge (as about classified information). It is true that actual photography or videotaping is normally prohibited in court, but there is nothing that I know of that makes what was said secret, in so far as someone remembers what happened or took manual handwritten notes (old school style).
There are, of course, some things that happen in secret for a while (grand juries, usually).