New Jersey judge orders newspaper to “remove a news article.” The paper's response is awesome. (UPDATED)

Photo: The Bergen Dispatch

Photo: The Bergen Dispatch

A Bergen County, New Jersey judge has ordered the local paper to “remove a news article” that relates to a child custody case, demanding that the paper take it out of public internet view for all eternity. The response to that order published in The Bergen Dispatch is pretty great.

On Thursday, Bergen County Superior Court Judge Jane Gallina-Mecca issued an order directing the Bergen Dispatch to remove a news article. The case, Docket Number FN 02-158-15, Division of Child Protection And Permanency (DYFS) vs. S.G., D.K. in the matter of G.K. involves the custody of a child. As such, the proceedings were held in a closed courtroom and no one from the Bergen Dispatch was notified nor was the Bergen Dispatch represented at the time.

It will be interesting to see how this holds up under appeal. Apart from being a threat to Constitutionally protected press freedom, it is major Streisand Effect territory. Again, from the Bergen Dispatch:

Many questions remain as to the extent of Judge Mecca’s power to censor the press in general and the Bergen Dispatch in particular. The Judges ability to issue such an order from behind closed doors without a hearing, without notification and without an opportunity to argue the facts seems contradictory to such things as the United States and the New Jersey Constitutions.
In June 2014, the Bergen Dispatch filed a First Amendment challenge to a gag order issued by Essex County Superior Court Judge Nancy Sivilli in a 2011 a divorce and custody suit, which is still pending. United States District Judge William J. Martini rejected Sivilli’s motion to dismiss the case finding that the gag order violates the Frist Amendment.
While the Bergen Dispatch reviews its options we have confirmed that Bergen County does currently remain part of the State of New Jersey and that currently New Jersey is still part of the Union of states that is governed by the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. As such, Bergen County citizens continue to enjoy the right to freedom of speech and the right to a free press.

UPDATE: Reminded of her obligation to uphold the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the judge backs down.


[Thanks, @jcstearns]

Notable Replies

  1. If you wish to make an alppe pei from scratch, you must frist invent the uinverse.

  2. I mean, I love me some Carl Sagan quotes, but I'm genuinely befuddled what that has to do with the topic at hand? Then again, I've had 2 frozen margaritas and a sazerac, and I've been dancing salsa, cha cha and bachata for 3.5 hours, so I''m opening to it having flown over my head.

    Regarding Xeni's original post, I'm inclined to be somewhat appreciative of the judge under scrutiny due to her response under pressure. As with the police, I frequently fine the judiciary to be great in principle and deeply flawed in practice. I think the amount of power they wield, and the way in which they are elected or appointed, can and often does lead to both power-trips and political expediency at the cost of public service and justice. BUT, the fact that this judge backed down when reminded she serves the people and our constitutionally protected rights, is actually a win and an unexpected concession on her part. I'm not saying it obviates her initial disregard for overreach in issuing the gag order, but it's frankly better than I've come to expect from those in power who routinely hunker down in trenchant refusal to admit their errors.

    Yeah, she should surely have known better, and indeed should know the law better than anyone, but it's kind of refreshing to see someone in authority cop to a mistake.

  3. An amusing metathesis based on a now-edited misprint?

    Slippery things, editable posts.

  4. In other news, there was a thing about a newspaper article, of which we are hearing only one part. Is there a reason this article should not have been published? Does it have something to do with the privacy of a five year old child? I do not think doxxing an abused kindergartener is constitutionally protected speech. Newspapers traditionally do not do this.

Continue the discussion

13 more replies