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Communications Law In San Franciso two of Alameda Countys six municipal courts have limited public access to criminal court records after a Legal Aid Society lawyer requested it others are waiting an opinion from the county counsel about its constitutionality The question is can the courts in Alameda County withhold criminal records from the public Does this violate the constitution The article says that the courts did this to protect the witnesses and the victims However this protection doesnt take precedent over access to public records and the publics right to know By citing the case of Richmond Newspapers v Virginia we see that limiting criminal court records would conflict with the Constitution The First Amendment gives the public and the press the right to gather news Justice John Paul Stevens said The court unequivocally holds that an arbitrary interference with access to important information is an abridgment of the freedoms of speech and of the press protected by the First Amendment The same was true in the case of United States v Cardentier Tapes used in the trial were ordered to be sealed for sixty days The New York Times and the New York Daily News objected The court after reviewing the Richmond case saw an emerging right of the public to know what happens in court The tapes had to be released Although I agree that there is some information that should be withheld such as information or discovery materials which the lawyer had collected for a case or records that have been sealed for a good cause such as to protect the national security privacy or trade secrets to safeguard an ongoing investigation or to facilitate settlement of a troublesome law suit However I dont feel that the information withheld in Alameda courts falls into any of the above categories Like the article says police records arrest records and other information about a defendant are not available in the two courts
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