That headline doesn’t exactly tell you something you don’t know. But here’s a blog post from lawyer Eric Goldman that reiterates the point. A plaintiff brought suit against a number of legal search Web sites (Lexis/Nexis, Justia.com, etc.). The sites linked documents from a case in which the plaintiff had been involved. He wrote the sites and asked them to delink his link from the documents. They refused. The plaintiff brought suit. And the court tossed it. Here are two key passages:
“The First Amendment privileges the publication of facts contained in lawfully obtained judicial records, even if reasonable people would want them concealed. We have explained that judicial ‘[o]pinions are not the litigants' property. They belong to the public, which underwrites the judicial system that produces them.’” “All of Nieman's claims are based on the defendants' republication of documents contained in the public record, so they fall within and are barred by the First Amendment privilege.”
There it is, short and sweet. It’s bad news for people who would like to change the past.And it’s a good lesson to journalists. If you are reporting on a case proceeding, stick to the record. It’s like a shield.