429 U.S. 1341 (1977), A-594, Houchins v. Kqed, Inc.
|Docket Nº:||No. A-594.|
|Citation:||429 U.S. 1341, 97 S.Ct. 773, 50 L.Ed.2d 733|
|Party Name:||Thomas L. HOUCHINS, Sheriff of the County of Alameda, California, Applicant, v. KQED, INC., et al.|
|Case Date:||February 01, 1977|
|Court:||United States Supreme Court|
[97 S.Ct. 773] Mr. Justice REHNQUIST, Circuit Justice.
Applicant Houchins is the sheriff of Alameda County in the State of California and in that capacity controls access of the press and public to the Alameda County jail. Respondents KQED, Inc., a nonprofit educational television-radio station, and the Alameda and Oakland branches of the NAACP, sued applicant in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California in order to obtain an injunction granting KQED personnel access to the Alameda County jail at Santa Rita. The District Court granted respondents a preliminary injunction on November 20, 1975, which restrained applicant
"from excluding as a matter of general policy plaintiff KQED and responsible representatives of the news media from the Alameda County Jail facilities at Santa Rita, including the Greystone portion thereof, or from preventing KQED and responsible representatives of the news media from providing full and accurate coverage of the conditions prevailing therein.
". . . (F)rom denying KQED news personnel and responsible representatives [97 S.Ct. 774] of the news media access to the Santa Rita facilities, including Greystone, at reasonable times and hours.
". . . (F)rom preventing KQED news personnel and responsible representatives of the news media from utilizing photographic and sound equipment or from utilizing inmate interviews in providing full and accurate coverage of the Santa Rita facilities. (Applicant) may, in his discretion, deny KQED and responsible representatives of the news media access to the Santa Rita facilities for the duration of those limited periods when tensions in the jail make such media access dangerous."
Applicant sought a stay of this order in the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and a two-judge panel of the court granted the stay on December 24, 1975, observing that:
"the injunction appears to exceed the requirements of the First Amendment as interpreted in Pell v. Procunier, 417 U.S. 817, 94 S.Ct. 2800, 41 L.Ed.2d 495 (1974) and Saxbe v. Washington Post Co., 417 U.S. 843, 94 S.Ct. 2811, 41 L.Ed.2d 514 (1974). Should the injunction be modified by the District Court, this Court will entertain a motion to lift the stay."
(1) Applicant's appeal was thereafter heard by a different panel of the Court of Appeals which affirmed the order of the District Court. Applicant filed a petition for rehearing and suggestion for rehearing en banc, and a motion for stay of mandate, all of which were denied. He now requests that I stay the injunction pending the filing and disposition of a petition for certiorari to review the judgment of the Court of Appeals. For the reasons set forth below, I grant his application.
The dispute between the parties centers upon questions of law, rather than of fact. The principal dispute involves the
interpretation of our opinion in Pell v. Procunier, 417 U.S. 817, 94 S.Ct. 2800, 41 L.Ed.2d 495 (1974). Applicant would urge that we reach the same result in this case as we did in Saxbe v. Washington Post Co., 417 U.S. 843, 94 S.Ct. 2811, 41 L.Ed.2d 514 (1974):
"We find this case constitutionally indistinguishable from Pell v. Procunier, ante, 417 U.S. 817, 94 S.Ct. 2800, 41 L.Ed.2d 495, and thus fully controlled by the holding in that case. '(N)ewsmen have no constitutional right of access to prisons or their inmates beyond that afforded the general public.' Id., at 834, 94 S.Ct., at 2810." Saxbe, 417 U.S., at 850, 94 S.Ct., at 2815.
Respondents, on the other hand, rely upon the Court's observation at the outset of the opinion in Pell that the prison regulation there involved was:
". . . not part of an attempt by the State to conceal the conditions in its prisons or to frustrate the press' investigation and reporting of those conditions. Indeed, the record demonstrates that, under current correction policy, both the press and the general public are afforded full opportunities to observe prison conditions. . . . In short, members of the press enjoy access to California prisons that is not available to other members...
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