Witnesses’ Right of Access Applies to Entirety of Execution Proceedings
Participated in an amicus brief (with the Reporters Committee and other amici) filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in BH Media Group, Inc. v. Clarke. The Richmond Times-Dispatch and three other news outlets brought suit against the Director of the Virginia Department of Corrections (“VDOC”), contending that VDOC violated the First Amendment right of access by changing its execution protocol in 2017 to prevent witnesses from viewing the entirety of an execution. The district court granted VDOC’s motion to dismiss. The amicus brief supports the media plaintiffs’ argument that the district court erred in failing to apply the history and logic test to execution proceedings. The brief argues that federal caselaw does not limit the First Amendment right of access only to pre-judgment adjudicatory proceedings.