By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Hopkins’ ruling overturned

Superior Court Judge Merita Hopkins’ chilling order prohibiting WHDH-TV (Channel 7) from airing its exclusive on the autopsy reports of two Boston firefighters has been overturned. John Ellement of the Boston Globe writes that Massachusetts Appeals Court Judge Andrew Grainger set aside Hopkins’ order with little comment, but that we can expect “a lengthier explanation” later.

I hope that explanation includes an acknowledgment that Hopkins ignored well-established First Amendment doctrine. Hopkins exercised prior restraint — censorship — in its rawest form. I also wonder, along with the Phoenix’s Adam Reilly, whether Grainger will say that Hopkins — former chief of staff and legal counsel to Mayor Tom Menino — should have recused herself from even considering the case.

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  1. O-FISH-L

    Certainly the Appeals Court judge made the correct decison, yet I wonder if the same media outlets who demanded justice today will “clam-up” when a future court orders them to reveal their sources? Should be interesting.On the media angle, Channel 7 is going waaay overboard patting itself on the back for being “the first” to obtain the autopsy info, AND they’re spending far too much time on the minutia of the “legal battle”. As if a case that was resolved in 24 hours can be called a legal battle. I think a quick mention that “the Boston Firemen’s union asked the court to suppress this info, but they were ultimately unsuccesful” would more than suffice. What’s the old media saying, “don’t become a part of the story”?

  2. Anonymous

    In your earlier posting, you wrote:”The courts — right up to and including the U.S. Supreme Court — have consistently ruled that when a confidential document ends up in the hands of the media, there’s nothing that can be done about it. The legal responsibility is on the keepers of those documents not to release them; the media, by contrast, have no legal obligation not to report on them.”This is the kind of license that the media always hide behind in order to allow themselves to act without restraint. It led to the travesty in the Balco case, where the defense lawyer leaked, the Chronicle reporters wrote, the defense lawyer demanded that charges be dropped on the basis that it must have been the prosecution that leaked, and the reporters said nothing.Here’s my bottom line. Once a member of the media is victimized by the capricious and illegal leaking of confidential material, we will see how far their defense of this “principle” really extends.And, for the record, I am a liberal!

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