CNN Must Defend Lawsuit over Online Captioning

A California court recently ruled that a lawsuit in which a group representing deaf citizens contended that CNN must provide captioning for videos uploaded to its website may proceed.  The group, The Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness, brought suit under the California's Unruh Civil Rights Act and the California Disabled Person's Act.  The court's decision is available here.

CNN responded to the suit by moving to dismiss under California's Anti-SLAPP statute, Section 425.16 of the California Code of Civil Procedure, contending that the claims arise from its newsgathering activities and dissemination of the news, both of which are protected activities under the free speech and free press clauses of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The case was filed in federal court in the Northern District of California, and, in a lenghty written decision, the court denied CNN's motion, which means that the plaintiffs' lawsuit may move forward.  The basis for the court's decision was its finding that CNN failed to make a prima facie showing that its refusal to provide captioning for online content is "conduct . . . in furtherance of" its broadcast activities.  That meant the Anti-SLAPP statute did not apply.

The court first rejected CNN's argument that the Anti-SLAPP statute applied because all of CNN's business activities are in furtherance of its broadcast speech.  The court concluded that a categorical rule that all activities by any media defendant would trigger the statute was too broad and exceeded its plain language.  The court then found that the particular conduct at issue here -- CNN's refusal to provide captioning for its online video content -- likewise did not constitute acts in furtherance of speech.  In reaching this conclusion, the court noted that the plaintiffs "do not assert a right to change CNN's broadcast or expressive content or otherwise interfere with CNN's editorial decisions."  Finally, the court rejected CNN's argument that the plaintiffs' claims fell within the scope of the Anti-SLAPP statute because they impacted an editorial decision it made (related to the accuracy of captioning) and would increase its costs.

This case is interesting because it presents a wrinkle to the FCC's captioning rules, which apply to on-air broadcasts but not to internet distribution of content.  Notwithstanding the non-applicability of those rules to the facts of this case, it will be interesting to follow how CNN fares in defending against state statutory civil rights claims.  We will continue to monitor the progress of this case. 

Exercising the Right to Record the Police May Lead to Obstruction Charges

We previously wrote here and here about cases involving wiretapping prosecutions as a result of recording police activities.  In addition to running afoul of wiretapping statutes, citizens or journalists who videotape or record the police have also been arrested for violating state obstruction statutes, in certain circumstances. Two such cases are discussed below.

For example, in Berglund v. City of Maplewood, two journalists who hosted a public access cable program were arrested for videotaping their own arrest. The journalists refused to pay a $15 fee to attend a public event, which they intended to film and show on their cable program, and they were asked to leave by the police because they refused to pay. The police department alleged that a verbal and physical altercation with the journalists ensued and that force was necessary to subdue at least one of them. The journalists were charged with disorderly conduct and obstructing legal process.

The journalists captured the altercation on videotape. The police confiscated the tape at the scene without a warrant. Later that evening, the police viewed the tape and made a copy to give to the journalists, keeping the original as evidence. Two days later, one of the journalists obtained the copy from the police.  The video was shown on the journalists' cable program a few days later.

The journalists later filed a Section 1983 claim against the city and the police officers alleging the officers violated the journalists’ First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights by, among other things, seizing the videotape, viewing and copying the tape, preventing the plaintiffs from gathering and disseminating information, refusing to return the tape, and controlling the tape’s publication.

With regard to the alleged First Amendment violation, the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota held that there was no violation. The court recognized that the First Amendment protects the right to gather information, but stated that the right is not absolute. (Other courts have held that newsgathering activities receive First Amendment protection.) The court reasoned, as the U.S. Supreme Court had before it, that the First Amendment does not guarantee the media a special right of access to information that is not available to the public generally. The court wrote:

Here, plaintiffs had no greater right than the public to gather information at this event. Like all other members of the public, plaintiffs only had access to the information at the event if they paid the $15 attendance fee. Because they refused to pay the $15 attendance fee, they had no right to the information at the event under the First Amendment. Thus, defendants did not violate plaintiffs’ First Amendment right by seizing the videotape and removing plaintiffs from the event.

The court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants on all the plaintiffs’ claims, including the First Amendment-based claim.

Berglund illustrates the application of obstruction laws to a particular situation where journalists videotaped the police in the course of their public duties. In Berglund, the obstruction statute applied in part because the plaintiffs tried to assert a greater right to be at an event than the general public. Of course, the U.S. Supreme Court has long been hostile to the view that the press enjoys greater First Amendment protection than the general public. See, e.g., Branzburg v. Hayes

A recent North Carolina case also involves application of a state obstruction statute to a citizen who videotaped police conduct.  The Salisbury Post reported in August 2010 that a woman in Salisbury, N.C., was found guilty of resisting, obstructing, and delaying an officer after she refused an officer’s order to go inside her home while she filmed a traffic stop from her front porch. (Video of the incident is posted here.) According to the Salisbury Post’s coverage, the judge reasoned that the woman could have observed the incident from inside her home and should have respected the officer’s request. The Rowan County District Court sentenced the woman to 6 months of probation and community service.

Presumably, this Salisbury woman was charged with violating N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-233, which provides, “[i]f any person shall willfully and unlawfully resist, delay or obstruct a public officer in discharging or attempting to discharge a duty of his office, he shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.” The elements of the offense are: (1) that the victim was a public officer; (2) that the arrestee knew or had reasonable grounds to believe that the victim was a public officer; (3) that the victim was discharging or attempting to discharge a duty of his office; (4) that the arrestee resisted, delayed, or obstructed the victim in discharging or attempting to discharge a duty of his office; and (5) that the arrestee acted willfully and unlawfully, that is intentionally and without justification or excuse.

According to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina in Bostic v. Rodriguez, the purpose of § 14-233 is “'to enforce orderly conduct in the important mission of preserving the peace, carrying out the judgments and orders of the court, and upholding the dignity of the law." The statute “‘is concerned with acts threatening a public officer with injury only insofar as they interfere with the performance of his official duties.’”

Section 14-233 has been found not to apply to communications simply intended to assert rights, seek clarification, or obtain information in a peaceful way. Indeed, “merely remonstrating with an officer . . . or criticizing or questioning an officer while he is performing his duty, when done in an orderly manner, does not amount to obstructing or delaying an officer in the performance of his duties.” However, actual physical force or assault, or permanently preventing the officer from discharging his duties, are not necessary to violate § 14-233. The state must merely prove that “the officer was obstructed or interfered with, and that such obstruction or interference was willful on the part of the defendant.” State v. Burton, 108 N.C. App. 219, 225, 423 S.E.2d 484, 488 (1992).

It appears that § 14-233 may be used in a manner that limits the right of citizens to record the police (to the extent there is such a right recognized by the courts) in those instances where the recording hampers the officer’s ability to perform his duties—for example, hampering the officer in safely executing a traffic stop. The application of the statute appears to require a case-by-case analysis of the facts of the particular incident.

In the case of the Salisbury woman, it appears that her refusal to heed the officer’s order to go inside her home while the officer dealt with two occupants of a car that had previously given chase was sufficient evidence of obstruction. Unfortunately, neither a transcript of the hearing nor a copy of the written order explaining the court’s analysis of the case were available.

The Berglund and Salisbury cases demonstrate that journalists or citizens who record the police may have to contend not only with wiretapping statutes, as we discussed earlier, but obstruction statutes, as well. 

 

 

Fourth Circuit Upholds Right to Publish Government Documents Containing SSNs

I’m going to devote a few posts over the next several weeks to some intriguing cases from 2010 that you might have missed.

One such case is a fascinating decision from the Fourth Circuit, Ostergren v. Cuccinelli, 615 F.3d 263 (2010), in which the Court found a Virginia statute making it unlawful to intentionally publish a person’s social security number over the Internet violated the First Amendment. Judge Duncan’s thoughtful and thorough analysis offers insight into how the Supreme Court’s holdings in Cox Broadcasting v. Cohn, Smith v. Daily Mail Publishing, and The Florida Star v. B.J.F., all hallowed First Amendment decisions affirming the right to publish freely available public information, ought to be applied in a digital age fraught with the risk of identity theft and intrusions upon personal privacy.

The plaintiff in Ostergren is a privacy advocate. One way in which she has chosen to spread her message is by publishing on her web site public land records that reveal the social security numbers of various public officials. Virginia began placing its land records online in the 1990s. Initially, clerks of court did nothing to redact social security numbers from these records. Subsequently, the Virginia legislature required attorneys who filed instruments for recordation to ensure that social security numbers were removed before filing.

In 2007, the legislature addressed the redaction of records already available online (original land records maintained in hard copy form are not redacted). However, the record in the case demonstrated that there is an approximately 3% error rate in the redaction process, which means that even after the process is complete, over a million online records can be expected to contain unredacted social security numbers. By 2008, 105 of Virginia’s 120 counties had completed the redaction process; those that had not finished continued to make all records available online.

Ostergren began advocating for reform in 2003 when she created her web site, and two years later she began her practice of publishing unredacted documents on that site. The controversy sparked by her web site led to the amendment of Section 59.1-443.2, which prohibited the intentional communication of a person’s social security number, to remove the exception for “records required by law to be open to the public.” After the Virginia Attorney General announced his intention to prosecute Ostergren under the amended statute, Ostergren brought suit under Section 1983, seeking to have the law declared unconstitutional under the First Amendment as applied to her publication of copies of public records lawfully obtained from the government.

The district court ruled in Ostergren’s favor and entered an injunction. On appeal, the Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court’s core holding under the First Amendment, while modifying the scope of its injunction.

The Fourth Circuit began by rejecting the categorical approach advanced by Virginia that social security numbers are unprotected speech that may be prohibited entirely. The Court held that “[g]iven her criticism about how public records are managed, we cannot see how drawing attention to the problem by displaying those very documents could be considered unprotected speech. Indeed, the Supreme Court has deemed such speech particularly valuable within our society.”

The Fourth Circuit then considered what level of scrutiny to apply to the Virginia statute’s regulation of protected speech. After a lengthy discussion of Cox Broadcasting, Daily Mail Publishing, and The Florida Star, the Court concluded that those decisions

make clear that Ostergren’s constitutional challenge must be evaluated using the Daily Mail standard. Accordingly, Virginia may enforce section 59.1-443.2 against Ostergren for publishing lawfully obtained, truthful information about a matter of public significance ‘only when narrowly tailored to a state interest of the highest order.’

Thus, strict scrutiny applied.

The Court then discussed the state’s interest protecting the disclosure of social security numbers. After providing an extensive history of the development of social security numbers and the risk of their misuse, the Court concluded that “Virginia’s asserted interest in protecting individual privacy by limiting SSNs’ public disclosure may certainly constitute ‘a state interest of the highest order.’” However, the Court went on to hold that it need not decide the question because it concluded, in any event, that Virginia’s restriction at issue was not narrowly tailored to the asserted interest.

In examining the question of narrow tailoring, the Court noted that the case involved a different conception of privacy than that present in Cox Broadcasting and The Florida Star. Those cases proceeded from a notion of privacy premised on secrecy, namely shielding from public view the fact that one had been the victim of rape. In Ostergren, on the other hand, secrecy was not at issue in the sense that a person is not embarrassed or humiliated, nor is their reputation harmed, by the revelation of his social security number. Instead, the privacy concern rests on ensuring proper use of and control over sensitive information, that if one’s social security number is revealed, unscrupulous persons may use the number for identity theft, bank fraud, and so on.

The Court noted another difference from the Cox Broadcasting and The Florida Star cases in that in those cases the disclosure was unintentional and could easily have been prevented. In Ostergren, the Fourth Circuit noted that it is much more difficult to ensure that not one of the millions of land records placed online contain an unredacted social security number.

Based on this analysis, the Court concluded that Virginia’s prohibition was not narrowly tailored to its asserted interest. In particular, the Court found that while the First Amendment does not necessarily require that each and every original land record be redacted before Ostergren may be prohibited from publishing them online in unredacted form,

the First Amendment does not allow Virginia to punish Ostergren for posting its land records online without redacting SSNs when numerous clerks are doing precisely that. . . . Virginia could curtail SSNs’ public disclosure much more narrowly by directing clerks not to make land records available through secure remote access until after SSNs have been redacted.

The court noted further that when documents with social security numbers slipped through the redaction process unaltered, “we leave open whether under such circumstances the Due Process Clause would not preclude Virginia from enforcing section 59.1-443.2 without first giving Ostergren adequate notice that the error had been corrected.”

On the strength of this sound analysis, the Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court’s holding that enforcement of Section 59.1-443.2 against Ostergren for posting the Virginia land records on her website would violate the First Amendment.

However, the Court went on to vacate the injunction entered by the district court on the grounds that its scope was both too narrow and too broad in certain respects. First, the Court rejected Ostergren’s argument that the injunction should protect her publication of non-Virginia public records that she had posted on her web site. Second, the Court found the injunction was too narrow in that it applied only to Virginia land records of public officials and did not include those of private individuals. Third, the injunction failed to cover Virginia land records posted by Ostergren concerning non-Virginia public officials.

To my knowledge, this is the first case to examine this issue. Look for more disputes to arise under the Cox Broadcasting/Daily Mail Publishing/The Florida Star line of cases as concern over privacy continue to clash with the public interest, embodied in the First Amendment, to permit the publication of publicly available government records.

Blue Language Given Thumbs Up in North Carolina

Sorry, this blog post is not about the Duke-UNC rivalry.  Instead, it is about a First Amendment decision handed down by a trial judge last month that qualifies as being on the lighter, if not cleaner, side.  The case involved North Carolina's antiquated -- and quirky -- anti-profanity statute.  The 98-year old statute made it a crime to utter profanity on a public highway, but with two of North Carolina's 100 counties exempted -- Pitt County in the east and Swain County in the west.

Judge Allen Baddour ruled in January that Samantha Elabanjo could not be prosecuted for a misdemeanor under the statute for using the word "damn" during a run-in with police officers (apparently as part of her assessment of the cleanliness of the officers' police cruiser).  N.C. Gen. Stat. 14-197 reads in its entirety:

If any person shall, on any public road or highway and in the hearing of two or more persons, in a loud and boisterous manner, use indecent or profane language, he shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor. The following counties shall be exempt from the provisions of this section: Pitt and Swain.

The trial court reached the sensible and straightforward conclusion that the law is unconstitutionally vague under the First Amendment because of the lack of clarity as to what currently constitutes "indecent or profane language."

The more interesting question, one that vexed the Associated Press reporter who penned the article linked above, is why Pitt and Swain Counties were exempted.  Apparently when the law was adopted, the legislators in their wisdom concluded that there needed to be places of refuge in which highwaygoers could let their tongues fly and the expletives rip.  This approach later sparked one of the more memorable speeches on the floor of the North Carolina legislature, Representative Herbert Hyde's "cursing" speech.

In his impassioned defense of retaining two cursing sanctuaries in the state, Rep. Hyde stated the following, apparently after first acknowledging that the law was likely unconstitutional:

But the folks in Swain wouldn't want me to stand on that kind of technicality and I'm not going to do that.

. . .

But there ought to be a refuge somewhere a man could go and when he really is provoked that he can say something with impunity.  There's only two places left Pitt and Swain. One in the East and one in the West. I think it's most appropriate.

The link above contains the entire speech.

North Carolina Superior Court Holds State Shield Law Protects Identities of Newspaper Website Commenters

On July 27, 2010, N.C. Superior Court Judge Calvin E. Murphy ruled from the bench that North Carolina’s shield law, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 8-53.11, protects a newspaper from the compelled disclosure during judicial proceedings of the identities of anonymous commenters to the newspaper’s website. Judge Murphy signed the written order in the case on August 16, and it is available here. To our knowledge, this is the first case in which a North Carolina court has ruled that the state's shield law applies to the identities of anonymous website commenters, although other states have been grappling with the issue with respect to their own state shield laws.

The case stems from the criminal proceedings in Gaston County, N.C., against Michael Mead, who has been charged with murder. Mead’s attorney issued a subpoena to the publisher of the Gaston Gazette, at first requesting identifying information related to a particular website poster (“justicen2010”), but then later also requesting a copy of the Gaston Gazette’s contract with the provider of its website comment forum. (More information on the case is available from the Gazette’s website).

The Gazette challenged the subpoena and raised the state shield law as a protection against compelled disclosure. Judge Murphy agreed with the Gazette’s position, holding that the information sought by the defendant—both the website commenters’ identities and the business contract with the comment forum provider—were confidential information related to the newspaper’s and publisher’s newsgathering and news publishing activities and were obtained while the publisher was acting as a “journalist,” as defined in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 8-53.11(a)(1). (Note: The information at issue in this case was confidential, but North Carolina’s shield law protects both confidential and non-confidential information.) Thus, the judge held that the shield law applied to the facts at hand.

Further applying the statute, Judge Murphy held that the defendant failed to overcome the qualified privilege set forth in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 8-53.11 by demonstrating clearly and specifically that the information and documents sought (1) were relevant and material to the proper administration of the legal proceeding at issue, (2) could not be obtained from alternative sources, and (3) were essential to the maintenance of a claim or defense. In the absence of this showing by the defendant, Judge Murphy quashed the subpoena.

With this ruling, the North Carolina Superior Court now joins other state courts that have held their respective state shield laws protect anonymous website commentary from compelled disclosure in judicial proceedings.

Hawaii District Court Rejects Candidate's Request to Stop Televised Political Debate

The U.S. District Court for District of Hawaii issued an order on May 7, 2010, denying a federal candidate’s request to be included in a televised debate among the candidates for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The order is available here.

Fourteen candidates are in the race to fill a vacant seat in the House. Television station KITV, Honolulu, Hawaii, in partnership with the League of Women Voters, chose three candidates to participate in the televised debate on May 7. One of the candidates who was not selected to participate filed a lawsuit against the station and sought a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the court to stop the debate from happening. The candidate generally argued in his TRO motion that the station had deprived him of his right to freedom of speech under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

Candidate debates on TV or radio are generally governed by the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and FCC regulations that implement that statute. The district court denied the Hawaii candidate’s request to stop the debate, first, because the governing statute, Section 315 of the Communications Act, does not recognize a private right of action to bring a lawsuit against a broadcaster related to a debate. The law instead requires a candidate to file a complaint with the FCC, which has jurisdiction over broadcast debates. 

The court also denied the request because it found there was no “state action” in the case – that is, no deprivation of a constitutional right by a government body or actor – because KITV is a privately owned company.  

The court compared the case to Arkansas Educational Television Commission v. Forbes, 523 U.S. 666 (1998), in which the Supreme Court ruled that a televised candidate debate was a “nonpublic forum” from which a broadcaster was entitled to exclude a candidate on a reasonable, viewpoint neutral basis in the exercise of its journalistic discretion. (The Hawaii case is otherwise distinguishable because, in the AETC case, the television station was government-owned.) 

The court found that the Hawaii TV station selected participants in the debate on a candidate-by-candidate basis and based its decision in part on each candidate’s degree of public support. The station did not take the candidates’ viewpoints into account in making its selections. According to the court, “the current record supports the finding that Plaintiff was excluded not because of his viewpoint, but because he had not generated appreciable public interest.” With that finding, the court held the candidate was not likely to succeed on the merits of the case, so the issuance of a TRO to stop the debate was not justified.

Supreme Court Dogfighting Opinion A Boon To Media

The United States Supreme Court's recent decision  in U.S. v. Stevens, which invalidated on First Amendment grounds a federal statute criminalizing the commercial creation, sale, or possession of a "depiction of animal cruelty," has been widely discussed in the media and blogosphere.  In Stevens, the Court held 8-1 that the so-called "dog-fighting" statute was, on its face, unconstitutionally overbroad.  In so holding, the Court declined the government's invitation to create a new category of speech that did not enjoy First Amendment protection.

Our purpose here, however, is not to rehash the details of that case (for a terrific rundown of the facts and holding, read this post from Lyle Denniston at Scotusblog).  Rather, our interest is in explaining why members of the media should care about a dog-fighting decision.

Stevens matters -- or should matter -- to journalists for two reasons.

First, it invalidated a law that, read broadly, could have created criminal liability for a television news show discussing dog fighting that included footage of an actual dog fight.  While the statute had a savings clause that exempted "any depiction that has serious religious, political, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical, or artistic value," the Court held that the First Amendment does not countenance government prosecutors passing judgment on what has "serious journalistic value."

Chief Justice Roberts, writing for the Court, did not buy assurances from the government that the statute would be interpreted narrowly.  He wrote that the government "offer[ed] no principled explanation why" certain depictions of Spanish bullfighting would be "inherently valuable" while certain depictions of dog fighting would not.

More broadly, Stevens matters to journalists because the Court -- almost unanimously -- denied in extremely strong language the government's attempt to create a whole new category of speech (depictions of animal cruelty) that could be criminalized based on a "balancing of the value of the speech against its societal costs."

The Court held:

As a free-floating test for First Amendment coverage, that sentence is startling and dangerous. The First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech does not extend only to categories of speech that survive an ad hoc balancing of relative social costs and benefits. The First Amendment itself reflects a judgment by the American people that the benefits of its restrictions on the Government outweigh the costs. Our Constitution forecloses any attempt to revise that judgment simply on the basis that some speech is not worth it. The Constitution is not a document “prescribing limits, and declaring that those limits may be passed at pleasure.” Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 178 (1803).

To understand the importance of that holding, imagine a scenario where every category of speech could be proscribed if the government or a court did not think its value outweighed its potential harm.  Would broadcasters be forced to defend the societal value of their latest "reality TV" offering?  Could newspapers be barred by law from publishing any article whose societal value was not deemed sufficient?  The reach of such an outcome would have been breath-taking.

As the Court pointed out -- and as journalists are all too aware -- much (if not most) speech has little or no true "societal value."  Nonetheless, such speech has always enjoyed First Amendment protection unless it fell into one of a very small number of historically recognized exceptions (obscenity, defamation, fraud, incitement, or speech integral to criminal conduct).

By drawing a firm line in the sand, the Court affirmed that journalists will continue to retain broad discretion under the First Amendment to publish what they think has value -- whether or not the government or a court might disagree.

ACLU and North Carolina Department of Corrections Reach Settlement over Prisoner Publications

Pursuant to the terms of a recent settlement between the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation (ACLU-NCLF) and the N.C. Department of Correction (DOC), prison inmates in North Carolina may now write novels and other manuscripts and send them to publishers, even if those written materials portray criminal activity.  The ACLU-NCLF reported the settlement in a press release.

The ACLU-NCLF had filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Victor L. Martin, a habitual felon with several theft-related convictions and whose “urban fiction” authored while in prison features gangsters, hustlers, drugs, and raw language.  The terms of the settlement require the DOC to adopt a policy that allows inmates to prepare a manuscript for publication, for outside typing, and for copyrighting.  The policy protects fiction, nonfiction, poetry, music, and drawings.  An inmate may not receive direct compensation for publication of the manuscript but may receive compensation indirectly by authorizing a family member to handle all correspondence related to the business aspect of publishing for compensation.

The issues raised by this lawsuit are similar to those surrounding “Son of Sam” laws. Son of Sam laws are designed to prevent criminals from profiting from their crimes through contracts relating to a depiction of their crimes in a movie, book, or other publication or production.  The New York Legislature passed the very first Son of Sam law in 1977 in response to reports that a killer who called himself Son of Sam – later identified as David R. Berkowitz, the man whose murder spree terrorized New York City in 1977 – was being offered large sums from publishers and film producers for the rights to his story.

Frequently these “Son of Sam” laws give to victims and their families any money that the criminal earns from expressive works about his/her crimes. Supporters say the laws help crime victims and prevent criminals from profiting from their misdeeds.  Opponents raise First Amendment concerns.

New York's original "Son of Sam" law was struck down on First Amendment grounds in an 8-0 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which held that it was unconstitutionally overinclusive in the case of Simon & Schuster v. Crime Victims Board.  The case involved a book that was written with the assistance of former mobster Henry Hill, who was portrayed in the movie Goodfellas.  The Supreme Court noted that New York's law as written would have escrowed payments for works such as the Autobiography of Malcolm X, Henry Thoreau's Civil Disobedience, and the Confessions of Saint Augustine.

There are no North Carolina statutes or reported decisions relating to “Son of Sam” laws.  However, pursuant to the terms of the settlement between the ACLU-NCLF and the DOC, prison inmates in North Carolina have more rights than before to write and publish work authored in prison, even work that deals with criminal activity.