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United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
June 28, 2018, Argued and Submitted, Pasadena, California; January 17, 2020, Filed
Nos. 16-55977, 16-56714
[*585] WARDLAW, Circuit Judge:
"The peculiar value of news is in the spreading of it while it is fresh." Int'l News Serv. v. Associated Press, 248 U.S. 215, 235, 39 S. Ct. 68, 63 L. Ed. 211 (1918), abrogated on other grounds by Erie R.R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 58 S. Ct. 817, 82 L. Ed. 1188 (1938). This case pits the urgency of reporting on, and the public interest in obtaining, contemporaneous news about filings in our courts against administrative interests in the fair and orderly processing of those filings. During Courthouse News Service's decade-long battle to obtain immediate access to newly filed complaints from Ventura County Superior Court, the drive for "fresh" news has only become more intense. In this digital age, newsfeeds and media platforms update the news by the minute [**6] or even by the second, and even traditional media deliver an endless stream of "breaking" news. Yet courts undeniably have an important administrative function that requires orderly processing of new filings, and this results in incidental delays to access by the press and public. We are asked to resolve these competing interests.
Applying Press-Enterprise Co. v. Superior Court (Press-Enterprise II), 478 U.S. 1, 106 S. Ct. 2735, 92 L. Ed. 2d 1 (1986), we conclude that ] the press has a qualified right of timely access to newly filed civil nonconfidential complaints that attaches when the complaint is filed. However, this right does not entitle the press to immediate access to those complaints. Some reasonable restrictions resembling time, place, and manner regulations that result in incidental delays in access are constitutionally permitted where they are content-neutral, narrowly tailored and necessary to preserve the court's important interest in the fair and orderly administration of justice.
Courthouse News Service (CNS) "is a national news organization that publishes daily reports for its subscribers about civil litigation, including the filing of new lawsuits." Courthouse News Serv. v. Planet (Planet I), 750 F.3d 776, 779 (9th Cir. 2014). CNS has more than 2,700 subscribers nationwide, including lawyers, law firms, news organizations, other media outlets, and entertainment [**7] and watchdog groups. In addition to sending proprietary litigation reports to law firms, CNS counts twenty-nine media entities among its subscribers, including the Los Angeles Times and Boston Globe. Id. at 780. CNS describes itself as a "pool reporter" for national media, which disseminate CNS's litigation news to the broader public.
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947 F.3d 581 *; 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 1578 **; 2020 WL 253562
COURTHOUSE NEWS SERVICE, Plaintiff-Appellee/Cross-Appellant, v. MICHAEL D. PLANET, in his official capacity as Court Executive Officer/Clerk of the Ventura County Superior Court, Defendant-Appellant/Cross-Appellee.
Subsequent History: Objection overruled by, Judgment entered by Courthouse News Serv. v. Planet, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16967 (C.D. Cal., Jan. 26, 2021)
Prior History: [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California. D.C. No. 2:11-cv-08083-SJO-FFM. S. James Otero, District Judge, Presiding.
Courthouse News Serv. v. Planet, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104898 (C.D. Cal., June 14, 2016)Courthouse News Serv. v. Planet, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 192418, 2016 WL 9711194 (C.D. Cal., Oct. 17, 2016)
Disposition: AFFIRMED IN PART; REVERSED IN PART; and REMANDED for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
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Constitutional Law, Freedom of Speech, Free Press, Public Access, Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Bill of Rights, Fundamental Freedoms, Freedom of Speech, Summary Judgment Review, Standards of Review, Judgments, Preclusion of Judgments, Law of the Case, The Judiciary, Case or Controversy, Mootness