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Thursday, December 2, 2021

Judge bans New York Times from publishing Project Veritas documents

A New York judge on Thursday ordered the New York Times to stand trial next week to defend the publication of Project Veritas legal documents, while in the meantime stop publishing confidential material.

Judge Charles Wood said he could order the newspaper to remove all references or descriptions of confidential information from the attorney and client of Project Veritas and return and / or immediately remove all copies of confidential material in the newspaper, unless he was convinced otherwise.

The newspaper or its attorneys were ordered to appear in the New York City Supreme Court for Westchester County on November 23.

The New York Times recently published documents on the Internet that the newspaper claims belonged to Project Veritas. The newspaper later removed them, but the story with their description is still available on its website. Project Veritas’ attorneys say the documents were received inappropriately and that their publication was not authorized by the group.

To complicate matters, Project Veritas is in a lawsuit against the newspaper over articles that were misleading because they contained the opinions of the authors on the official list, as Wood ruled in March.

The newspaper managed to remain in the opening stage as it appealed the decision.

Project Veritas lawyers called the newspaper’s acquisition of confidential materials “shocking manifestation of unfair play.

“The absence of any justification for The Times’s behavior bears witness to what it is: a naked and vindictive attempt to harm and embarrass the adversary of the trial, completely ignoring the integrity of the lawyer-client relationship,” they told the court.

“We are concerned that the Times will publish and distribute confidential attorney and client materials written by a lawyer who is the official attorney in the ongoing Project Veritas versus The Times lawsuit, which was clearly stolen and lent to the Times without Project Veritas consent. – wrote the lawyer to the lawyers of the New York Times.

The source of the documents was not identified in the documentation, newspaper stories, or an email that reporter Adam Goldman sent to Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe shortly before the files were published.

The documents include memoranda containing advice from attorney Benjamin Barr on how Project Veritas can avoid facing legal problems in reporting, which largely depends on whether reporters operate undercover.

Joel Kurzberg, a lawyer for the newspaper, said in the filing that Project Veritas claims without evidence that the New York Times improperly obtained the files. He said Project Veritas was seeking “an extraordinary prior restraint” or suppression of certain material prior to publication, which he claimed was a violation of the newspaper’s First Amendment rights.

Elizabeth Locke, a lawyer representing Project Veritas, told The Epoch Times in an email that the order did not meet this definition as the material in question had already been released to the public.

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“The interim order and the more permanent relief sought are narrowly tailored to this misconduct. Moreover, even if it were a prior restriction (and it was not), there are certain circumstances under which the law allows a court to prohibit the publication of materials before this happens, including, for example, through a protection order in court proceedings. between the parties in the litigation to prevent the use and distribution of materials protected by the lawyer and the client, ”she said.

James Okeefe
James O’Keeffe, Project Veritas Founder, at the Values ​​Voter Summit in Washington on October 12, 2019 (Samira Bois / The Epoch Times)

Representatives from the New York Times did not respond to requests for comment. One of them told a newspaper reporter that the publication of the memoranda was unintentional and that the documents were removed “after the editors discovered an error.”

Dean Bake, the newspaper’s executive editor, said Wood’s decision on Thursday to give cause was “unconstitutional and set a dangerous precedent.

“When a court silences journalism, it lets citizens down and undermines their right to know. The Supreme Court made this clear in the Pentagon Papers case, a landmark ruling against a prior restriction banning the publication of noteworthy journalism. This principle is clearly applicable here. We are seeking an immediate review of this decision, ”he said in a statement to news outlets.

The lawsuit concludes a series of events that began earlier this month when FBI agents raided homes associated with Project Veritas. The New York Times was the first to report the raids, and Project Veritas accused the newspaper of receiving leaks from the FBI. The bureau did not send requests for comment.

The search warrant said law enforcement officials had reason to believe that Project Veritas was involved in a conspiracy to seize the stolen goods and move them across state lines. The item has been described as property received from Ashley Biden, daughter of President Joe Biden.

Project Veritas reports that last year he acquired the diary, allegedly owned by Ashley Biden, from two people not affiliated with the group, but ultimately chose not to publish it as he cannot verify its authenticity. The group says it turned over the diary to local Florida law enforcement.

The raids were widely condemned as a violation of the First Amendment.

Project Veritas has asked the court to appoint a special foreman or retired judge to protect the privileged materials. The request was granted last week.

Zachary Stieber

To follow

Zachary Stieber covers US news, including politics and court cases. He started out at The Epoch Times as a New York subway reporter.

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