May  2013    
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  "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." 

Follow NEFAC's ongoing First Amendment conversation as it develops across New England 
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NEFAC Protests Seizure of AP Phone Records     
   The New England First Amendment Coalition joined in protesting government snoopng into news media activities and asked for the immediate return of phone records seized from The Associated Press.
    NEFAC Executive Director Rosanna Cavanagh, in a May 17 letter,  asked Attorney General Eric Holder to return the data on AP personal and bureau phone lines and take a leading role in adoption of a journalists' shield law.
    "Our First Amendment protections for freedom of the press embody our founders' vision that only an unfettered press can protect the free flow of information upon which any true democracy depends, " Cavanagh wrote.
    AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt called the seizure "unconstitutional" during a May 19 interview on CBS' Face the Nation and said it's already made some sources reluctant to talk to reporters.
Keep up with First Amendment issues via NEFAC's blog

   It's a forum for citizens, journalists, students, public policy advocates and government officials to have their say on First Amendment issues.
   The blog is maintained by the staff of the New England First Amendment Center at the School of Journalism at Northeastern University.
   Submit comments to Laura Crimaldi:

Limits on Newsgathering Gear Eased by Federal Courts in Vermont    

By Mike Donoghue 

    BURLINGTON, Vt. - The federal courts in Vermont have taken the first step toward easing restrictions on journalists carrying computers, iPhones and other electronic newsgathering tools past security checkpoints at federal buildings.

donoghue - pass
Donoghue with pass 

The new rule, which took effect in mid-April, allows electronic devices in common areas outside a courtroom but still prohibits them from being used in court during hearings and trials. The new rule continues to prohibit the use of video and still cameras or audio recordings in federal courtrooms.  Read more   

Public Has Right to a Glimpse Into Killer's Mind
By Joseph G. Cote
   NASHUA, N.H. - We know a lot about Steven Spader, but unless a motion to unseal new court documents succeeds, some of the most vital information to understanding Spader's gruesome crimtes may never see the light of day.
    It's been more than three years since the now 21-year-old Spader led a group of small-town teenagers into Kimberly Cates' Mont Vernon bedroom, hacked her to death with the help of Christopher Gribble and viciously attacked then-11-year-old Jaimie Cates. Read more 
Maine Makes Info on Concealed Gun Permits Secret
By Judith Meyer
On April 25, Maine joined at least 25 other states in making concealed carry permits confidential governmental records.
Meyer, Judith    The very next day, Gov. Paul LePage signed the controversial Freedom of Access Act exception into law. Concealed carry permits are now the only state-required, state-issued, state-managed and state-enforced permit issued for personal use in Maine.
   In addition to this new public records exception, the emergency law also requires the Department of Public Safety to create a central database of concealed carry permit holders for use by law enforcement, which is a shift from record keeping of the past, where records were maintained by the issuing authorities in various municipalities. 
Request for IDs Rejected by Court, Union Leader Ponders Next Move   
By Joseph W. McQuaid
MANCHESTER, N.H. - When Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced nationally that it had arrested and was holding many illegal immigrants, New Hampshire's statewide newspaper naturally wanted to know the identities of those arrested and details of the arrests made in the Granite State.
   We were nonplussed by the government's response - No!
   We don't like to sue our government, especially for information we believe the public is entitled to.  
    We were further astounded by the court's ruling and its rationale. The ruling seems to say that people who enter the country illegally and commit further crimes here are entitled to a level of privacy that is greater than that accorded citizens.  Read more 
VT Legislature Gives Public Access to Police Reports
By Anne Galloway
   MONTPELIER, Vt. -  The press corps and the Vermont chapter of the ACLU scored a major victory in the Vermont Legislature last week.
Galloway    Lawmakers approved a change in the public records law that gives citizens access to records associated with police investigations of criminal activity.
   Gov. Peter Shumlin supported opening police records to public scrutiny, and he is expected to sign the legislation into law this month.      
High Court Says Public's Right to Know Not Basic to the Well-being of the Union
By Steven Brown
   PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Unfortunately, it's now official. The public's right to know is not "basic to the maintenance or well-being of the Union."
   That is the essence of an April 29 U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of a provision in Virginia's Freedom of Information Act
which guarantees access to public records to in-state residents only.
   We welcome contributions to The NEFAC Report from journalists, lawyers, adademics or other advocates of government transparency.
   If you have something to add to the conversation, please let me know. Your  stories, experiences and commentaries have broad appeal and value. - - Larry Laughlin, NEFAC Report editor. ([email protected]).