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Federal appeals court bars media amicus brief in PLN case vs. FDOC

Bizjournals, May 18, 2016.

Media groups shut out of prison newspaper fight

May 18, 2016, 7:11am EDT

A federal appeals court has turned down a request by media groups to file a friend-of-the-court brief in a dispute about whether the Florida Department of Corrections can ban a publication from the state's prisons.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is scheduled to hear arguments in the case June 10, issued an order last week rejecting the request from groups such as the Florida Press Association, the First Amendment Foundation and the American Society of News Editors.

The groups had sought to weigh in on behalf of Prison Legal News, which is banned from state prisons.

U.S. District Judge Mark E. Walker ruled last year that the Department of Corrections could ban Prison Legal News because advertisements in the publication pose a threat to security. That ruling prompted Prison Legal News to appeal.

The media groups filed a motion to submit a friend-of-the-court brief but were opposed by the Department of Corrections. In part, the media groups argued that the department's stance on Prison Legal News could threaten other types of newspapers distributed in prisons.

But in the order last week, the appeals court said the media organizations' proposed brief, in part, "rehashes arguments that Prison Legal News makes in its brief."

(Disclosure: The News Service of Florida is a member of the First Amendment Foundation.)