Judge Orders Newspaper To Delete Article, Newspaper Reminds Judge That It's In The US And The 1st Amendment Exists

from the welcome-to-america dept

This seems to happen all too often, but a local judge has forgotten about the whole 1st Amendment thing. Last week, Bergen County Superior Court Judge Jane Gallina-Mecca ordered the Bergen Dispatch to take down a news article. The article was about a specific family court case, involving custody of a child. It’s not surprising that there might be some concern over privacy rights in such cases, but even so, that does not allow a judge to flat out order a newspaper to take down an article — even more so when the order came out of a closed hearing where no one from the newspaper was even present. In response, the Bergen Dispatch posted a fairly snarky article that reiterates some of the details from the case, and concludes with this wonderful paragraph:

While the Bergen Dispatch reviews its options we have confirmed that Bergen County does currently remain part of the State of New Jersey and that currently New Jersey is still part of the Union of states that is governed by the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. As such, Bergen County citizens continue to enjoy the right to freedom of speech and the right to a free press.

Informed of this little tidbit of information, the judge has since vacated the original order, but it’s still astounding that it had to go that far in the first place.

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Comments on “Judge Orders Newspaper To Delete Article, Newspaper Reminds Judge That It's In The US And The 1st Amendment Exists”

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33 Comments
jilocasin (profile) says:

You have to admire how this particular judge went out of her way, not only to disregard the First Amendment, but to cite a completely inapplicable law as the basis for her order.

From the linked article:

“As far as we can tell from the Order, the court made no findings of fact and appears to have issued the order in a summary proceeding. — Notably, the only authority cited for the action was N.J.S.A. 9:8-1 et seq. This section is currently listed as the Following: “Chapter 8. Orphan Asylums; Guardianship and Indenture of Children [Repealed].”

I wonder, did she truly not know the law she was referencing, or cynically thought that no one would look it up…..

Law student (not US) says:

Re: Re:

When I had to do court observation in first year, the judges’ citations were either highly abbreviated (just referring to the roman numeral for the sub-sub-number (e.g referring to clause 1 b iii as just “3”) and relaying on everyone knowing what he meant from context) or entirely irrelevant (he referred to a clause about sentencing donors for a guy who was 40+, and to one about mitigating factors which were utterly inapplicable).

I get the strong impression that judges at lower levels tend to rely on making decisions based on general principles and just throw citations in as a nod to proper procedure, and rely on the fact that no-one is going to appeal their decisions and that the court reporter will fix their citations before reporting the case.

(The barristers weren’t much better: one cited evidence which entirely contradicted his position, and wasn’t caught out until the judge remembered what the original evidence was a few minutes after he finished talking; one started making counterproductive arguments until the judge told him to shut up; a few of them made totally nonsense citations; and one of them got a citation right and then misread it so that it favoured her, she hesitated while reading it too, so I think she must have misread it, decided to use it, and then noticed what it actually said.)

RD says:

Re: Constitution?

“Progressives don’t think the United States Constitution applies to them or their actions.”

Yeah because no right-wing conservative ever held such beliefs or said the Constitution is “just a god-damned piece of paper” or initiated anything like the Patriot Act. That was all liberals. Actually, it was all Obama, for the last 50 years even.

Do you people even listen to yourselves? You spew ridiculous statements like this the kind you would never accept from the other side. The dissonance is astonishing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Constitution?

The Patriot Act passed 98-1 in the Senate when it was first passed. (Although, to be fair, the NSA just ignored anything that was supposed to limit them in that act, such as the word “relevant”.)

There are good people and bad people in both political parties. There are unprincipled people who will portray themselves as having whatever beliefs they think will get them into power, and there are people who sincerely hold their beliefs.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Hopefully this complete failure to understand the law will draw much more focus on this court.
Strike 1 – Whats this first amendment crap.
Strike 2 – I’ll just cite random laws, that do not apply and no longer exist.
Strike 3 – I’ll just have hearings and not allow people to be represented and demand they kowtow to my demands.

It would appear that this Judge needs a refresher course in the law, and given some of the information out there about this case and how long it has languished raises serious concerns about that entire court.

SBVA (profile) says:

Crooked Judge

Never before have I been in front of a judge who didn’t understand the laws, and simply made shit up as she went along. The woman even goes as far as to change court transcripts after fucking up decisions which are not predicated on fact nor law. Literally and figuratively, who plays favourites with attorneys that she has a prior relationship with. Chris Christie, your poor judgement never ceases to amaze.

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