Recently in Spring 2002 Category

First Amendment scholar, two- time Pulitzer Prize winner, author, and former New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis will deliver the seventeenth Annual Silha Lecture on Tuesday, October 8, 2002. He has entitled his lecture, "Terrorism and Freedom."

By Elaine Hargrove-Simon, Bulletin Editor

On May 7, 2002, the Judicial Conference of the United States, the principal policy-making body for the federal court system, announced the approval of a pilot program that will allow public online access to criminal case files. The announcement marks a reversal of earlier conference policy, which permitted access to many civil and bankruptcy case files online but prohibited electronic access to criminal case laws, citing concerns for the safety of victims, witnesses, and law enforcement personnel. (See "Judicial Conference Casts Vote on Accessibility of Electronic Files," Fall 2001 Bulletin.)

By Elaine Hargrove-Simon, Bulletin Editor

The National Center for State Courts has developed a Model Policy on Public Access to Court Records. The proposed draft provides guidelines that state systems and local courts might use in developing their policies for electronic access to their court records. The policy was prepared on behalf of the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators and is being funded by the State Justice Institute (SJI) and the Government Relations Division of the National Center for State Courts.

Minnesota Governor Signs New Privacy Bill into Law

By Bastiaan Vanacker, Research Assistant

Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura signed a bill on May 22, 2002 making Minnesota the first state in the nation to give Internet users control over whether or not their service providers can disclose or sell their personal information. Under this bill, which was overwhelmingly approved by the Minnesota Senate and House on May 18, 2002, service providers must inform customers in Minnesota whenever they plan to disclose personal information such as the Web sites they have visited, their home and e-mail addresses, and phone numbers.

Harvard Business Review Faces Ethical Challenges

By Bastiaan Vanacker, Research Assistant

The reputation of the prestigious Harvard Business Review has been tainted by questions of credibility and ethics in the wake of a high profile incident that led to the resignation of the editor, Suzy Wetlaufer. According to newspaper accounts, Wetlaufer had become romantically involved with an interview subject, former General Electric chairman Jack Welch.

By Bastiaan Vanacker, Research Assistant

Japanese journalists are worried that two bills currently being considered by the Japanese Parliament, the Diet, could seriously hamper freedom of the press. The first bill, drafted by the justice ministry, would establish a human rights commission that would deal with "human rights violations." The bill is aimed at curbing excessively intrusive reporting to protect the rights of crime suspects and their victims. The bill defines excessively intrusive reporting as "repeatedly and continuously following and ambushing crime victims and others who refuse to be interviewed." The bill raises concerns that journalists will no longer be able to investigate and report themselves but will have to rely solely on police reports for their coverage of certain news events.

By Bastiaan Vanacker, Research Assistant

Ever since the election that resulted in media mogul Silvio Berlusconi becoming Prime Minister of Italy, questions have been raised about his ever-increasing control over the media. Berlusconi is not only the Italian Premier and the owner of one of Italy's best soccer teams, but his Fininvest group is also the main shareholder in Mediaset, which operates Italy's three biggest private TV stations (Canale 5, Italia 1, Rete 4), totaling 43% of the market share. This fact alone has been one of the most hotly debated topics in Italian politics during the last decade. Since Berlusconi came to power, fears about his media monopoly have grown because as Prime Minister he is also able to influence the three stations of the state-owned public television (RAI) whose three channels take up 47.4% of the market share. Berlusconi had vowed to resolve this apparent conflict of interest in the first one hundred days of his premiership, but he did not do so. He also failed to install a panel of independent advisors to investigate the issue.

Journalism Ethicist Louis W. Hodges Will Retire in 2003

Louis W. Hodges will retire as Knight Chair in the Ethics of Journalism at Washington and Lee University at the end of the 2002-2003 academic year.

By Elaine Hargrove-Simon, Bulletin Editor

On May 2, 2002, investigators from the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office shut down operations at a small newspaper for three hours while they searched files for an invoice for an advertisement that was placed three months earlier. Armed with a search warrant, which enabled them to search "all rooms, safes, locked boxes, desks," the investigators ordered everyone out of the offices of Metropolitan News Company while they searched for records that would reveal the name of the entity that placed the advertisement. The advertisement had given notice of intent to circulate petitions for a recall election in the suburb of South Gate.

By Elaine Hargrove-Simon, Bulletin Editor

In April 2002, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that The Tattered Cover Bookstore would not be required to hand over information regarding customer purchases to investigators. In March 2000, police and a Drug Task Force agent were observing a trailer home where they suspected a methamphetamine lab was operating. One of the investigators searched through the garbage left outside the trailer for collection and found evidence of the operation of a drug lab as well as an envelope from The Tattered Cover bookstore. The envelope was labeled with the invoice number, order number, and the customer's name, who was one of the residents of the trailer.

By Bastiaan Vanacker, Research Assistant

The University of Minnesota Press has been in the eye of a media storm surrounding its publication of Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex by New York journalist Judith Levine. According to many news sources, the book's central message is that sex is not harmful to minors per se and that traditional sex education programs that focus on sexual abstinence rather than informing young people of all aspects of sexuality do more harm than good.

Supreme Court Strikes Down Virtual Child Pornography Law

By Bastiaan Vanacker, Research Assistant

It is unconstitutional under the First Amendment to ban the production, possession or distribution of virtual child pornography, the Supreme Court ruled on April 16, 2002. Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition (122 S.Ct. 1389) challenged the constitutionality of sections 2256(8)B and 2256(8)D of the Child Pornography Prevention Act, passed in 1996. These sections define child pornography as any visual depiction where "such visual depiction is, or appears to be, of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct" (section2256(8)B) and "such visual depiction is advertised, promoted, presented, described, or distributed in such a manner that conveys the impressions that the material is or contains a visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexual explicit conduct." (section2256(8)D).

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