Judge Cox (credit: Palm Beach County Bar Association)
The Palm Beach Post is fighting a Florida judge’s order that it remove from its news site transcripts of recorded calls of a jailhouse snitch to protect the inmate’s “right to privacy.” (PDF) Last week’s decision from Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Jack Schramm Cox also prohibited the news outlet, or “any other person currently in possession of the recorded calls,” from publishing transcripts of the informant’s taped jailhouse phone conversations.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has never upheld a prior restraint on pure speech, nor has (the newspaper’s) counsel found a Florida appellate decision upholding such a restraint,” the Post wrote (PDF) a Florida state appeals court. The Post said that Cox was erroneously putting the rights of jailhouse informant Frederick Cobia above those of the newspaper and that inmates have no expectation of privacy when speaking on jailhouse phones. Jail signs caution inmates that their calls are being recorded, the newspaper’s appeal said.
The Fourth District Court of Appeal declined to immediately block Cox’s order but on Friday expedited (PDF) briefing on the matter.
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