Monday, December 27, 2021

JUSTICE: Judge Orders New York Times to Get Rid of Project Veritas Memos Which Were Illegally Obtained

Source: Washington Examiner

Published: December 24, 2021

By: Daniel Chaitin

A New York judge ordered the New York Times to destroy all copies of attorney-client privileged memos from Project Veritas.

The order, signed by Judge Charles Wood of the State Supreme Court in Westchester County and dated Thursday, found the newspaper improperly obtained and published materials from the memos written by a lawyer for the conservative group that discussed Project Veritas's methods of reporting. Project Veritas sued the New York Times in November 2020 for defamation.

The physical copies, Wood said, must be delivered to Project Veritas's counsel, and the New York Times was ordered not to use the memos from the group's counsel, Benjamin Barr, or any information obtained from them. If the New York Times does not comply, the judge told Project Veritas to notify the court by the end of January, and warned the newspaper could face sanctions

A.G. Sulzberger, publisher of the New York Times, said the newspaper plans to appeal.

"This ruling should raise alarms not just for advocates of press freedoms but for anyone concerned about the dangers of government overreach into what the public can and cannot know," Sulzberger said in a statement obtained by the Washington Examiner.

"In defiance of law settled in the Pentagon Papers case, this judge has barred The Times from publishing information about a prominent and influential organization that was obtained legally in the ordinary course of reporting," he added. "In addition to imposing this unconstitutional prior restraint, the judge has gone even further and ordered that we return this material, a ruling with no apparent precedent and one that could present obvious risks to exposing sources should it be allowed to stand. We are appealing immediately."

Project Veritas has been engaged in defamation litigation against the New York Times in Westchester County Supreme Court since last year and filed a motion arguing the newspaper improperly obtained privileged memos without authorization and its reporting has prejudiced its rights.

“Today’s ruling affirms that the New York Times’s behavior was irregular and outside the boundaries of law. The court’s thoughtful and well-researched opinion is a victory for the First Amendment for all journalists and affirms the sanctity of the attorney-client relationship," Elizabeth Locke, a lawyer for Project Veritas, said in a statement that also accused the newspaper of being “a vehicle for the prosecution of a partisan political agenda.”

The defamation lawsuit focuses on the New York Times's portrayal of video reporting from Project Veritas that linked Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota to alleged voter fraud.

The New York Times fought to get the judge's prior order restricting its reporting on certain materials related to Project Veritas dismissed and argued the communications were obtained through "newsgathering efforts" outside of the litigation process.

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