Author Topic: First Amendment court battle: Media companies support Larry Flynt in fight over Missouri execution records  (Read 294 times)

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Offline mountaineer

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Media companies support Larry Flynt in fight over Missouri execution records
By Jeremy Kohler
Post-Dispatch
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Publisher Larry Flynt is at the center of yet another court fight — this one over the right of an interested third party to intervene in a court case.

Several media and consumer watchdog organizations, which are keenly interested in lawsuits with potential consequences for government transparency, have filed briefs to support him.

Flynt, the iconic publisher of the pornographic magazine Hustler, tried to intervene in a Missouri death penalty case in November, invoking a First Amendment right to view sealed documents that might identify an anesthesiologist on the state execution team. That information is confidential under Missouri law.

Flynt argued he had an interest because he was one of the victims of the white supremacist Joseph Paul Franklin. The state of Missouri executed Franklin on Nov. 20 for the 1977 sniper killing of Gerald Gordon, 42, outside a Richmond Heights synagogue. (Franklin, upset that Hustler published pornographic images of an interracial couple, also shot Flynt on the steps of a Georgia courthouse in 1978, paralyzing him.)

In December, Nanette Laughrey, a judge in the Western District of Missouri, denied Flynt’s petition with a one-sentence order: “A generalized interest in a subject of litigation does not justify intervention.”

That riled a coalition of media companies, which joined an appeal by Flynt and the American Civil Liberties Union to the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in St. Louis.

“Concerned citizens and the media are watchdogs of our government and often seek access to sealed court documents,” said Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri. “If the district court’s decision is allowed to stand, it would be nearly impossible for any member of the media or the general public to challenge a decision to keep court records secret.”

The organizations signing their names to briefs in support of Flynt include media organizations such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, POLITICO and the Missouri Press Association, an organization whose members include 250 newspapers, including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Public Citizen, the consumer watchdog group founded by Ralph Nader, also added its support.

“In sum, third-party intervenors like Mr. Flynt, Public Citizen, and the hundreds of daily and weekly newspapers in the Missouri Press Association play a crucial role in safeguarding the public’s ability to oversee the work of the courts,” the lawyers for Missouri Press Association and Public Citizen wrote.

In the underlying case, Flynt argued the public had interest in knowing the identity of an anesthesiologist working for the state execution team.

His motion notes that while the Missouri Department of Corrections says its doctor is certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology, that organization’s rules say a member “should not participate in an execution.”

Flynt wrote that the doctor is therefore “either lying about being board certified, or lacks the professional standing required to maintain certification.”

The Missouri Department of Corrections had not filed a response to the case late Monday, and a spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.
The skeptic is never for real. There he stands, cocktail in hand, left arm draped languorously on one end of the mantelpiece, telling you that he can't be sure of anything, not even of his own existence. I'll give you my secret method of demolishing universal skepticism in four words. Whisper to him: "Your fly is open." If he thinks knowledge is so all-fired impossible, why does he always look? — James Sire (from, The Universe Next Door)

Offline Atomic Cow

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Flynt has no right to this information.  There are times the government, be it local, state, or federal need to keep things secret.

And I hate to say it, too bad Franklin was such a bad shot.
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Online Oceander

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Flynt has no right to this information.  There are times the government, be it local, state, or federal need to keep things secret.

And I hate to say it, too bad Franklin was such a bad shot.

why not?  the presumption should be that all information in the government's possession is accessible by the public unless a good reason can be articulated that falls within fairly robust rules.

Offline Atomic Cow

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why not?  the presumption should be that all information in the government's possession is accessible by the public unless a good reason can be articulated that falls within fairly robust rules.

If the person's name is released, he will be harassed and threatened (or worse) by the anti-death penalty groups.

The pharmacy here in Texas that supplied the previous batch of the drug used for execution refused to do so again after the media published his name and he was threatened.

Now they're trying to get the name of the new supplier, knowing the same thing will happen.  Abbott is fighting it in court.
"...And these atomic bombs which science burst upon the world that night were strange, even to the men who used them."  H. G. Wells, The World Set Free, 1914

"The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather of that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections." -Lord Acton

Offline raml

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I say it should be private why should a doctor be outed only to be harassed for doing his job because it sure looks like that is what Larry Flynt is wanting to do with the information. I agree with my state that this should be private information. Not everything needs to be out there for everyone to see.  I imagine it would be hard to hire anyone to do that job if they knew it could get them harassed and maybe even stalked by idiots like Larry Flynt.

Online Oceander

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If the person's name is released, he will be harassed and threatened (or worse) by the anti-death penalty groups.

The pharmacy here in Texas that supplied the previous batch of the drug used for execution refused to do so again after the media published his name and he was threatened.

Now they're trying to get the name of the new supplier, knowing the same thing will happen.  Abbott is fighting it in court.

He's asking to see sealed documents, he isn't asking for the name to be broadcast far and wide.  As far as being harrassed goes - comes with the territory; if he can't deal with it, he'd better get out of the kitchen.

Offline Fishrrman

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[[ He's asking to see sealed documents, he isn't asking for the name to be broadcast far and wide. ]]

What is Larry Flynt's business?

C'mon.....

Online Oceander

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[[ He's asking to see sealed documents, he isn't asking for the name to be broadcast far and wide. ]]

What is Larry Flynt's business?

C'mon.....

unwarranted assumption; also irrelevant inasmuch as that is absolutely no basis for the government to keep information secret.


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