Jul 16, 2019

Thomas & LoCicero Obtains Order Permitting Camera Usage in State Drug Court

TLo attorneys land a victory for the (Fort Myers) News-Press.

On July 9, 2019, the Lee County Circuit Court vacated an order restricting the news media’s ability to cover local drug court proceedings with electronic media such as still and video cameras.  In March of this year, the (Fort Myers) News-Press filed a motion to intervene in State of Florida v. Farley, seeking to vacate a prior order that prohibited obtaining—and publishing—images of drug court participants without their prior consent. 

Thomas & LoCicero argued that the order was an unconstitutional prior restraint and violated established court rules governing electronic media coverage in Florida courts.  Those rules state that cameras are presumptively permitted in all Florida courts, and drug court participants stand no differently than other trial participants in this regard.

The Court cited controlling precedent found in In Re Petition of Post-Newsweek Stations, Florida, Inc., 370 So. 2d 764 (Fla. 1979) and State v. Green, 395 So. 2d 532 (Fla. 1981), in ordering that any future attempts to restrict electronic media access in drug court must be done in accordance with those rulings. 

Thomas & LoCicero attorney Mark Caramanica, who argued the matter on behalf of the News-Press, commented, “This order reaffirms our state’s commitment to open courts and rejects the notion that parties have blanket, inherent privacy rights that shield them from public view.  There is a great interest in understanding the operations of our state’s drug courts and electronic media coverage of those courts offers citizens a window into those proceedings they may not otherwise have.” 

The News-Press was represented by the firm’s attorneys Carol Jean LoCicero and Mark R. Caramanica.      

With offices in Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, Thomas & LoCicero is a Florida law firm that is widely known and respected for its commitment to free speech and a free press.  The firm represents the industry’s leading electronic and traditional publishers, as well as individual journalists, bloggers and influencers of social media on issues ranging from news gathering to invasion of privacy, from defamation to pre-publication review.  At the heart of the firm’s mission is to champion free speech and defend journalism every day. 

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