July 16, 2018 - Updated on July 18, 2018

UPDATE: US - RSF concerned by federal court’s censorship of the Los Angeles Times

Frederic J. BROWN / AFP
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is troubled to learn that a federal judge has ordered the Los Angeles Times to remove information from a published article about a sealed plea agreement between prosecutors and a police detective accused of corruption and ties to the Mexican mafia in Glendale, CA. The order also forbids the paper from publishing any further information related to the agreement in the future.

''Though the case involving the detective was intended to be sealed, the LA Times accessed the document on PACER, a public online database of United States federal court documents, where it had been mistakenly published. U.S. District Judge John F. Walter for the Central District of California granted the temporary restraining order on Saturday, July 14 after hearing arguments from the attorney representing the police detective without allowing the LA Times to appear to make its case. The paper has since complied with the order by removing information regarding the plea agreement from the article it had published earlier that day. 


RSF condemns this prior restraint on the LA Times’ right to publish information of public concern regarding an ongoing case of police corruption,” said Margaux Ewen, RSF’s North America Director. “This type of government censorship, considered by the US Supreme Court to be the ‘most serious and least tolerable infringement on First Amendment rights,’ simply cannot occur without inflicting terrible damage on the right to report, and by consequence, the public’s right to know.”


The LA Times filed an emergency motion on July 15 to stay the judge’s order.


The United States ranks 45th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index after falling 2 places in the last year.



UPDATE: After a hearing held on Tuesday July 17, Judge John F. Walter vacated the restraining order against the Los Angeles Times. The paper is now free to publish its article in full.