Landmark Case

California First Amendment Coalition (CFAC) v. Calderon

July 15, 2005

In July, 2005 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that there may no be any reason to bar the media from witnessing executions. Judge Hawkins writes, in his opinion for the en banc court, "We agree that executions are unquestionably matters 'of great public importance.' Pell, 417 U.S. at 830 n.7. Moreover, we believe that more information leads to a better informed public." While it had previously ruled that San Quentin's execution procedures were constitutional, the court withdrew its opinion and remanded its opinion to the lower court, holding that, while there is still no First Amendment guarantee to view the executions, the prison must prove that their denial of these requests are justified by security and safety concerns.

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Court Bans San Quentin's Secret Execution Procedures

Case Developments  

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rules media shouldn't be barred from witnessing executions.