September 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." 

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First Amendment
Institute Opens in Dedham on Sunday  
  Journalists from a variety of media and all six New England states will gather in Dedham, Mass., Sunday to learn the latest investigative and database reporting techniques and public records access skills.

    The 27 fellows chosen for this, the third annual New England First Amendment Institute, reflect today's diverse news media and come from daily and weekly newspapers, television and radio stations and online publications.

   "The interest shown in joining this year's class was very gratifying," said Rosanna Cavanagh, NEFAC's executive director.
   "The strength of the candidates is a testament to the quality of both the faculty and the three-day program." 
   The sessions will run through Tuesday at the Dedham headquarters of the New England Newspaper and Press Association.
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:

Head Scratcher: US Marshals Say Photos Would Invade VT Killer's Privacy   

By Michael Donoghue

   BURLINGTON, Vt. -  The U.S. Marshals Service says the privacy rights of a man who pleaded guilty in the high-profile kidnap, rape and murder of his 12-year-old niece in Vermont far outweigh the rights of taxpayers to see the man they will pay to keep behind bars for the rest of his life.
Donoghue,Mike    It is a head scratcher.
   Michael Jacques was facing a potential death sentence until he struck a deal Aug. 9 with federal prosecutors that will spare his life.  

   Under the plea bargain Jacques pleaded guilty to six charges on Aug. 27 and agreed to accept a life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole.  In return the government dropped its pursuit of the death penalty.  

   U.S. District Court Judge William K. Sessions III delayed the formal sentencing.  No date has been set.   Read more    

ACLU Again Checks RI School Board on Failing to Open Testing Talks   

By Steven Brown
   PROVIDENCE -  For the third time in less than two months, the ACLU of Rhode Island has taken legal action against the state Board of Education for violating open government laws.
Brown, Stevev    They all involve the board's persistent refusal to publicly address a controversial "high stakes testing" requirement that takes effect this school year for high school seniors.
   Parents, students, teachers, community advocates, the General Assembly, and just about everybody else with an interest in the education of the state's children have been engaged in a vigorous public discussion and debate on this issue for the past six months in light of its looming implementation.   Read more

MA Town Sues Gaming Commission for Proposed Casino Details   

By Laura Krantz
   HOPKINTON, Mass. A small rural Massachusetts town determined to ward off a casino in its backyard got stonewalled this year by a state commission and the secretary of state, but the fat lady hasn't sung yet for Hopkinton.
 Laura Krantz   After eight fruitless months battling the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for records, the town this month sued the commission for withholding records about the people who want to build a Las Vegas-style gaming complex nearby.
   The lawsuit is the town's last possible hope at forcing the commission to turn over documents about Foxwoods developers.  Read more 
NEFAC Will Honor James Risen with Hamblett Award at Annual Luncheon
    PROVIDENCE - James Risen, a New York Times reporter who's done ground-breaking work on domestic spying and now faces possible imprisonment for refusing to disclose the source for his account of a failed CIA operation in Iran, will receive the 2014 Stephen Hamblett Award from the New England First Amendment Coalition.
Risen, James
James Risen
   A two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Risen was ordered by a federal appeals court in July to identify his source and testify in the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, who's charged with leaking classified information to Risen.
   The information allegedly provided by Sterling was used in a chapter of Risen's 2006 book, "State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration," which told of an unsuccessful scheme, dubbed "Operation Merlin," to sidetrack Iran's nuclear program.
  The awards luncheon will take place in Boston on Feb. 7 as part of the winter conference of the New England Newspaper and Press Association.
(More details)
   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. (