NEFAC REPORT | September 2017
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David Barboza of The New York Times 
to Provide Keynote Address at Institute
Joining Barboza as featured speakers are Brian McGrory, editor at The Boston Globe, and Kathleen Carroll, former executive editor of the Associated Press. Other speakers include Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post; Politico's Josh Gerstein; Eric Eyre, reporter for the Gazette-Mail (W.Va.) and winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting; and Cindy Galli, investigative journalist for ABC News. 

The New England First Amendment Coalition offers the three-day institute each year at no cost to 25 New England journalists. The seventh annual institute is from Oct. 29-31 at Northeastern University in Boston.  "We have an incredibly talented group of fellows this year," said Justin Silverman, NEFAC's executive director. "We're very excited to begin the institute next month and look forward to a very productive program."  [...] 
The Vermont Judiciary is considering rules that would prohibit anyone not defined as "media" from video recording or taking photos of legal proceedings. The rules also require journalists to register with the court and allow court officials to confiscate recording equipment for "good cause." The rules are intended to address the prevalence of smartphones and personal recording devices, technology that NEFAC believes should be embraced by the court.  

Help Advance Coalition Mission, Expand Advocacy
Nashwa Gewaily, based in Boston, will provide NEFAC legal counsel, produce amicus briefs and conduct legislative advocacy across the six New England states. Prior to joining NEFAC, Gewaily worked as a legal fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and represented clients as an attorney in civil litigation matters. Her work at the ACLU focused on government transparency, privacy and technology issues.  [...] 


The New England First Amendment Coalition recently argued against indiscriminately sealing and redacting court filings, saying the practice undermines the public's right to know.  "[A]ccess to judicial documents is essential to the fostering of a well-informed citizenry and the integrity of our judicial system," wrote NEFAC and other First Amendment advocates in a Sept. 20 amicus brief.   [...] 


Only 14 percent realize the First Amendment protects freedom of the press. (That hurts). Ten percent know it protects the freedom to assemble peaceably. And a paltry three percent know it protects the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. (Yet five percent think the First Amendment protects the right to bear arms.)  So perhaps it's no surprise we are seeing so much rampant ignorance, blatant disregard and flat-out hypocrisy when it come to the First Amendment these days - both at the highest levels of our government and at some of our finest universities.    [...]


The Maine Judicial Branch Transparency and Privacy Task Force is currently considering policies for the system that would limit most of the public to docket information, the equivalent to an index to a case file. "Our position is that any already public record, available to anyone now at the clerk's office in paper copy, should also be public in digital form after the court system moves to an online case management system," argued NEFAC in a Sept. 27 letter sent on behalf of the coalition and other transparency advocates.  [...] 


As a student and a professor, I've exercised my First Amendment right to free speech in protests and counter-protests, civil disagreements and heated arguments.  Inside classrooms, in panel discussions and one-on-one with students, I've discussed the importance of this right and the ways in which higher education administrators draft policies that are in tension with that right.  In May, students associated with the Bunker Hill Community College  chapter of Young Americans for Liberty  in Boston learned that lesson on their own.   [...] 

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            Free Speech, College Campuses
            Leaks, Journalism
            Voter Commission, Public Records Law
            FOIA, Mar-a-Lago Visitor Logs


            Groton, Police Records

            Email, Public Records
            Right to Know Law Commission
           Panhandling, First Amendment
            State Police, Transparency   
            Traffic Tickets, Public Records

Major Supporters and Contributors to the 
New England First Amendment Coalition this year include:

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