New laws declare Arizona college campuses as free-speech zones, penalize preventing access to certain public events
Two new state laws, one designating all Arizona public college and university campuses as free-speech zones and another providing penalties for blocking access to such events as campaign rallies or public hearings, The Arizona Republic reports.
Gov. Doug Ducey signed the bills May 16. Read The Arizona Republic story about HB 2615 and HB 2548, which go into effect in August.
The First Amendment Coalition of Arizona and the Phoenix chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists have issued statements opposing Arizona House Speaker David Gowan’s new policy preventing reporters from continuing to work on the House floor until they agree to unprecedented background checks.
ad been asked this week to authorize background checks of their criminal and driving histories and ‘other public records’,” Arizona Republic reporter Richard Ruelas reported April 8. Reporters refused to submit to the checks and have since been covering House sessions from the balcony gallery, Ruelas reported.
- Read Ruelas’ full story here.
- Read The Arizona Republic‘s April 8 editorial, “Reporters unmasked Arizona’s House Speaker, so they had to be punished,” here.
- Read “Don’t chain Arizona’s watchdogs,” an April 8 My Turn column by Amanda Ventura, president of the Valley of the Sun
chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ is a charter member of the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona) here.
- Read Capitol Media Services reporter Howard Fischer’s story of his interview with First Amendment Coalition of Arizona attorney Daniel Barr, published in the April 9 Arizona Daily Sun, here.
- Read Barr’s letter to Speaker David Gowan regarding the House’s new policy here.
- Read KTAR-FM/The Associated Press April 11 account of Barr’s letter to Gowan here.
- Read the (Prescott) Daily Courier‘s April 9 editorial opposing the policy here.
- Read the Arizona Daily Star’s April 10 editorial opposing the policy here.
A federal judge heard arguments April 7 from attorneys representing the state Department of Corrections and five death row inmates and the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona over whether to lift a ban on controversial drug used in lethal injections of condemned inmates, The Arizona Republic reported.
Read the Republic’s Michael Kiefer’s full story here.
A judge has ruled that none of the text messages recovered from of Arizona Corporation Commissioner Bob Stump’s cell phone is a public record, Capitol Media Services’ Howard Fischer reported March 25 in the Arizona Daily Star.
After examining several hundred text messages that Stump deleted from a state-owned cell phone, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Randall Warner said only 36 of them occurred within dates sought by Checks and Balances attorney Dan Barr, Fischer reported.
Unrelated to this matter, Barr, of the Phoenix law firm of Perkins Coie, LLC, is also counsel to the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona.
An Arizona Republic editor must turn over all his documentation about interviews with a Catholic priest relating to the 2014 murder of another priest, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge has ruled, the Republic reported March 10.
Reporter Dennis Wagner’s story tells of editor John D’Anna, who published two pieces about the murder of the Rev. Kenneth Walker that included accounts of d’Anna’s interview with fellow priest Joseph Terra — Terra was assaulted in the same Phoenix rectory where Walker was found murdered — must surrender all communications regarding the interviews, Judge Peter Reinstein ruled.
Reinstein explained that murder suspect Gary Michael Moran’s Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial by an impartial jury is superior to D’Anna’s First Amendment rights to protect sources, according to Wagner’s story. D’Anna currently serves as vice president of the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona Inc.
A Maricopa County Superior Court judge will consider more inspections of an Arizona Corporation Commissioner’s state-owned cell phone via use of a different forensic software, The Arizona Republic reported March 8.
Reporter Ryan Randazzo reported that an attorney for a clean-energy group called Checks and Balances asked Judge Randall Warner to allow use of the software. According to the story, the request was to learn whether Commissioner Bob Stump was circumventing public records laws by communicating commission business via text message instead of more accessible email.
Other software was employed by another judge, appointed as a “special master” to examine Stump’s cell phone messages, Randazzo reported, but that judge found nothing among them constituted public records.
Randazzo quoted Checks and Balances attorney Dan Barr — who in an unrelated capacity is counsel for the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona — as saying that many Arizona government officials are using text messages instead of email.
Anyone seeking to view a public record in Arizona and anyone suing Arizona government officials over such access would have a harder time doing it, according to two bills before state lawmakers, The Arizona Republic reported Feb. 3.
According to Republic reporter Alia Beard Rau’s story, House Bill 2383 would deny access to photos in the hands of government agencies depicting crime victims or minors unless a judge allows release of those photos. And the measure would cut back on judges’ authority to order the government to pay lawyers’ fees of those winning public-records-access lawsuits, according to the story.
And Senate Bill 1282 would give government officials the power to turn down records requesters whose requests are “unduly burdensome or harassing” — although the bill does not provide definitions of what constitutes those circumstances, the Republic reported.
In a 5-4 decision, members of the Phoenix City Council ended a decades-long practice of starting their meetings with a vocal prayer, opting instead for a moment of silence, The Arizona Republic reported Feb. 4.
The vote came after members of the Satanic Temple signed up to give the invocation at a Feb. 17 council meeting, leading to some council members seeking to change how those who offer the prayers are selected, according to Republic reporter Dustin Gardiner’s story.
A federal lawsuit filed by the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona and others over which drugs should be used to execute death-row inmates in Arizona will continue onward, a federal judge ruled Jan. 12, The Arizona Republic reported.
But attorneys who brought the action say the litigation may not be over by the state Department of Correction’s existing supply of lethal drugs’ expiration date in May, according to the reporter Michael Kiefer’s story.
U.S. District Court Judge Neil Wake declared a moratorium on Arizona executions after a death-row inmate given the drugs in July 2014 died nearly two hours later, according to the story.
Those who stand less than 20 feet away while taking videos of police officers performing duties in public could be fined if a bill becomes law, Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services reported in the Arizona Capitol Times Jan. 7.
Under Senate Bill 1054, introduced by state Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, taking video any closer would be allowed only if the officer first gave his or her approval, according to Fischer’s story.
Attorney Dan Barr, counsel to the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona, criticized the bill,
saying existing laws already prevent interference with a law enforcement officer, Fischer’s story said.