State blocked in “prior restraint” case against The Trentonian

UPDATE (5/2/17): SPJ-NJ reports that last week a NJ Appellate Court denied the NJ Attorney General’s request to reinstate a gag order against The Trentonian newspaper and reporter Isaac Avilucea. “Prior restraints on speech and publication are the most serious and the least tolerable infringement on First Amendment rights,” wrote the Court in its strongly-worded opinion. See SPJ-NJ’s 4/29/17 post:


The Trentonian and Avilucea notch a big press-freedom win
NJ Society of Professional Journalists
April 29, 2017



(original post)

Suppressing the Rights of Parents and Criminalizing Journalism:
A Statement from the NJ Society of Professional Journalists
April 5, 2017

The above statement by the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ-NJ) nicely explains the issues in the “prior restraint” case against The Trentonian and reporter Isaac Avilucea.  Despite losing at every turn, the State continues to pursue the matter in what appears to be an abuse of authority and waste of tax dollars. At the heart of this issue is transparency, fairness, and basic First Amendment rights, including freedom of the press.

Background:  Avilucea received a court document from a mother trying to obtain media coverage of a case involving a state report that affected her family and child. The mother disagreed with the findings in the report. The state claimed the documents were illegally obtained and sought a prior restraint order against The Trentonian and threatened Avilucea with criminal charges.

“Prior restraint is when the government tries to censor reporters for something they might publish,” SPJ-NJ explains in its statement, and “it is virtually unheard-of in the United States.” Further, neither The Trentonian nor Avilucea revealed the name of the child in the case.


State AG loses appeal to silence newspaper
by Keldy Ortiz
April 24, 2017