357 F.Supp. 779 (D.D.C. 1972), Civ. A. 467-72, Washington Post Co. v. Kleindienst

Docket Nº:Civ. A. 467-72
Citation:357 F.Supp. 779
Party Name:Washington Post Co. v. Kleindienst
Case Date:December 19, 1972
Court:United States District Courts, District of Columbia

Page 779

357 F.Supp. 779 (D.D.C. 1972)

The WASHINGTON POST CO., and Ben Bagdikian, Plaintiffs,


Richard G. KLEINDIENST, and Norman A. Carlson, Defendants.

Civ. A. No. 467-72.

United States District Court, District of Columbia.

Dec. 19, 1972

Page 780

Joseph A. Califano, Jr., Charles H. Wilson, Jr., Richard M. Cooper, Williams,

Page 781

Connolly & Califano, Washington, D. C., for plaintiffs.

Joseph Hannon, Michael A. Katz, Asst. U. S. Attys., Washington, D. C., for defendants.


GESELL, District Judge.

The additional evidentiary hearings ordered by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, 477 F.2d 1168, have reinforced this Court's previously stated views as to both the facts and the law.

At the supplementary hearings, testimony was taken over a two-day period from Arthur L. Liman, General Counsel of the New York State Special Commission on Attica; Roy M. Fisher, Dean of the School of Journalism, University of Missouri; John O. Boone, Commissioner of the Massachusetts State Department of Corrections; Timothy Leland, Assistant Managing Editor of the Boston Globe; Noah L. Alldredge, Warden, U. S. Penitentiary, Terre Haute; Floyd L. Wainwright, Director, Florida Division of Corrections; Lou V. Brewer, Warden, Iowa State Penitentiary; and Norman A. Carlson, Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Numerous exhibits were received. The parties submitted proposed findings of fact and briefs.

No further extended discussion is necessary. It is appropriate, however, to respond to the specific inquiries contained in the Order. The Court has determined on the basis of detailed factual findings filed herewith that private personal interviews are essential to accurate and effective reporting. Ethical newspapers rarely publish articles based on unconfirmed letter communications. Reliability of such information must be determined by face-to-face confrontation. This is universally recognized by experienced journalists and demonstrated by the results of many confidential interviews conducted during the recent Attica investigation. Testimony of Liman and Fisher and the Attica Report itself are particularly persuasive on this key issue. Kleindienst v. Mandel, 408 U.S. 753, 765, 92 S.Ct. 2576, 33 L.Ed.2d 683 (1972), recognizes the intimate relationship between personal contact and the First Amendment's guarantees.

The "big wheel" justification did not withstand analysis. While the term is found in Seale v. Manson, 326 F.Supp. 1375 (D.Conn.1971), it has no precise meaning. Apparently it refers to prisoners whose militancy, tendency to act out and negative influence within a prison community make it likely that sustained press interviews and attention involving them may spark disruptive conduct by inmates within the walls. Not all prominent offenders or prison leaders fall in this category. The very few who do are usually, if not always, identifiable in advance. Interviews with such prisoners can be requested specially. The "big wheel" justification cannot, however, be used to stifle expression by any leader in the prison community who may differ with the warden and certainly it goes too far afield to blanket all federal prisoners under this rhetoric for the obvious purpose of stultifying dissent.

The further justification offered that all prisoners must be treated the same because if interviews are permitted in some instances and restricted in others, prison authorities will encounter...

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