MNPA Files Amicus Brief on Access to Search Warrant Documents

The Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association joined with other news organizations last week to file an amicus brief in a case before the Supreme Judicial Court that involves public access to affidavits and other documents filed in support of a search warrant.

On Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 9 a.m., the SJC will hear arguments in the case, William O’Connell v. Criminal Clerk of Quincy District Court. The appeal results from a request by The Patriot Ledger in Quincy to terminate an impoundment order covering documents filed in support of a warrant to search O’Connell’s condominium. O’Connell’s principle argument in support of maintaining the secrecy of the documents is that they involve allegations of rape and sexual assault. But the District Court judge, in lifting the impoundment order, ordered that any references to the alleged victim be redacted to protect her privacy.

The MNPA filed its brief — which can be downloaded from the SJC’s website — in conjunction with the New England Newspaper and Press Association, the Citizen Media Law Project and the New England First Amendment Coalition. Andover media-law attorney Peter J. Caruso Sr. wrote the brief for the MNPA.

The arguments at the SJC this week will be webcast.

AG’s Site Now Lets Users Search Open Meeting Rulings By Topic, Location

After taking over enforcement of the Massachusetts Open Meeting Law last year, Attorney General Martha Coakley launched a portion of her website devoted to the new law,www.mass.gov/ago/openmeetings, and later began posting the determinations issued by her office in response to complaints under the law.

Now that site has taken a major step forward in usability by adding an OML Determination Lookup feature. Before, you could only browse determinations by name of case. That told you nothing about the issue involved in the case. Now, the site lets you search for key terms or phrases or by actions ordered. You can also search by city or town, county, or public body.

20 Mass. Newspapers Publish Joint Editorial Today Endorsing Stronger Public Records, Open Meetings Laws

Something extraordinary happened today on the editorial pages of Massachusetts daily newspapers. More than 20 of the state’s newspapers agreed to jointly run an editorial endorsing reforms to the public records and open meetings laws that would help bring about increased government transparency.

The editorials came about with the support (non-financial) of the American Civil Liberties Union, Common Cause, the New England First Amendment Coalition, the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association and the New England Newspaper & Press Association, all of whom endorse these reforms.

Here are links to the editorials in the participating papers:

AG to Hold Hearing on Proposed Regs to Allow Remote Participation in Public Meetings

The Attorney General will hold a public hearing tomorrow, Sept. 6, on proposed regulations that would allow members of public boards and commissions to participate in meetings remotely under certain circumstances.

The proposed regs would allow a member to participate remotely only for:

  • Personal illness.
  • Personal disability.
  • Emergency.
  • Military service.
  • Geographic distance.

The regs would require that a quorum be physically present at the meeting location and that remote participants be clearly audible to everyone in attendance at the meeting location.

The public hearing on the proposed regs is 4 to 6 p.m. and will be held at One Ashburton Place, 21st Floor, Boston. You can obtain a PDF of the proposed regulations here: Request for Comment on Proposed Regulations.

Save the Date: 2011 MNPA Annual Meeting Dec. 1

Block out your calendars for the MNPA’s annual meeting and luncheon on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011, at Anthony’s Pier Four in Boston. The luncheon offers an opportunity to meet with newspaper publishers, editors, reporters and business staff from throughout Massachusetts.

The luncheon begins with a reception at noon. Earlier in the day, at 10 a.m., the MNPA will hold its annual business meeting and election of officers and members. At 11 a.m., there will be a panel discussion on a timely topic of interest.

Registration materials will be available in the fall. Watch this site for further information. Meanwhile, if you have any questions about the event, please address them to MNPA Executive Director Robert Ambrogi, (978) 546-3400 or info@masspublishers.org.

MNPA Joins SJC Amicus Brief to Unseal Inquest Materials in Amy Bishop Murder Case

The Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association has joined with Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic, the Citizen Media Law Project and a coalition of New England media and advocacy organizations to file an amicus curiae brief to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court seeking to unseal inquest documents in the Amy Bishop case. After a Superior Court judge refused the Boston Globe’s request to unseal the documents, the newspaper filed this appeal.

Bishop was a professor at the University of Alabama who allegedly shot and kiled three of her colleagues during a faculty meeting in 2010. The shooting sparked a new inquiry by prosecutors in Massachusetts into the 1986 fatal shooting of Bishop’s brother Seth. The Norfolk County district attorney initiated an inquest to investigate the shooting, which resulted in a grand jury issuing an indictment against Bishop for first-degree murder.

After the inquest was concluded, the Globe sought release of the inquest transcript and report. The Superior Court denied the request.

A more detailed description of the case and the legal issues it involves is available from the Citizen Media Law Project. A PDF copy of the brief is available for download.

Gov. Patrick to Speak at MNPA Annual Meeting

Gov. Deval Patrick, who was recently elected to his second term as Massachusetts governor, will be the featured speaker at the annual luncheon of the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association Dec. 2.

This will be Gov. Patrick’s second appearance at the luncheon. Shortly after his election in 2006, the then governor-elect addressed the annual luncheon. It was his first major public appearance after the election.

The Dec. 2 luncheon takes place in conjunction with the MNPA’s annual meeting. The luncheon, which is held at Anthony’s Pier Four in Boston, is open to anyone who registers.

For information on registering, see the 2010 Annual Meeting page.

Registration Now Open for MNPA Annual Meeting

Registration is now open for the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010, at Anthony’s Pier Four in Boston.

Follow this link to download the registration form (PDF).

The luncheon is your annual opportunity to meet with newspaper publishers, editors, reporters and business staff from throughout Massachusetts. As in past years, the luncheon will feature a prominent speaker, good food and good company.

The day’s agenda is as follows:

  • 10 a.m.: Annual business meeting and election of 2010 officers and executive board.
  • 11 a.m.:  Panel discussion: “The New Open Meeting Law: Change for the Better?”
  • Noon:  Networking reception (open bar).
  • 12:30 p.m.: Luncheon and keynote.
  • 1:30 p.m. Adjourn.

The meeting is open to anyone who would like to attend. Registration, which includes lunch, is $75 for MNPA member newspapers and their employees, $85 for all others.

If you have any questions about the event, please address them to MNPA Executive Director Robert Ambrogi, (978) 546-3400 or info@masspublishers.org.

We look forward to seeing you on Dec. 2.

MNPA Annual Meeting and Luncheon Set for Dec. 2

Mark your calendars for the MNPA’s annual meeting and luncheon on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010, at Anthony’s Pier Four in Boston.

The luncheon is your annual opportunity to meet with newspaper publishers, editors, reporters and business staff from throughout Massachusetts. As in past years, the luncheon will feature a speaker drawn straight from your newspapers’ headlines. The luncheon begins at noon.

At 11 a.m., a panel discussion will considers the pros and cons of the state’s new open meeting law, which took effect July 1. The panel will include the director of the Attorney General’s new Division of Open Government, a representative of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, and a reporter who has experience covering meetings under the new law.

The MNPA’s annual business meeting and election of officers and members begins at 10 a.m. Coffee and muffins will be served.

Registration materials will be sent shortly. The meeting is open to anyone who would like to attend. We hope to see you there and urge you to invite your colleagues to join you.

If you have any questions about the event, please address them to MNPA Executive Director Robert Ambrogi, (978) 546-3400 or info@masspublishers.org.