Press Release: Denver Defendants file Motion to clarify the court’s rules governing the recording of remote hearings.
Today, February 23, 2021, Denver defendants filed a motion to clarify rules regarding the recording of remote hearings. Denver defendants motion states that “After the conclusion of the preliminary injunction hearing, it came to Denver Defendants’ attention that parts of the hearing had been recorded and rebroadcast in a YouTube video titled ‘Message to the Mayor – Guerilla Storytelling Project’ …the video plays part of Denver Defendants’ counsel Conor Farley’s direct examination of Sergeant Brian Conover and part of Plaintiffs’ counsel Andy McNulty’s direct examination of Tiley English”.
Although there is currently no rule that prohibits the recording of remote hearings and although the Court offered a public access line, Denver defendants want to further limit the community’s access to information. Denver defendants have already been found violating a federal court order in order to deny citizen’s first amendment rights. Denver defendants continue in this endeavour.
If the Court were to enter an order prohibiting future recording, “it would prevent the citizens of Denver from gaining valuable information about how the homeless sweeps operate in practice, the justifications provided by Denver officials for them, and the costs (both societal and
economic) of continuing to conduct them unabated. Not only that, but it would also preclude Denver residents from using that information to have meaningful conversations about the homeless sweeps with one another and their elected representatives”. The Court “should not stifle public debate on an important public issue like the homeless sweeps by imposing a blanket ban on recording (and, consequently, dissemination) of public broadcasts of court proceedings in this matter”, asserts Andy McNulty, attorney for the Plaintiffs.
Plaintiffs’ response also includes the Supreme Court’s implicit recognition that the public and press have a presumptive First Amendment right of access to judicial proceedings. The rationale for recognizing such right is rooted in the “centuries-old history of open trials” and implicit in the First Amendment’s “core purpose” of assuring freedom of public discussion. The roots of public access to court proceedings and records lie in “democratic values of accountability and openness.” The public has a right to a “full understanding” of proceedings, thereby placing the populace in a position “to serve as an effective check on the system.” It has “long [been] recognized ‘that public monitoring of the judicial system fosters the important values of quality, honesty and respect for our legal system.’”
In accordance with this history, every Circuit that has considered the question has held that “the First Amendment does secure to the public and to the press a right of access to civil proceedings”.
The Denver Defendants need to be held accountable and our lawsuit continues as we push onward towards Rights, Dignity, Housing.