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Judge Bars Florida Newspaper From Naming Deputies In Fatal Shooting

The Sarasota, Fl., Herald-Tribune says is seeking to overturn an emergency injunction granted by a judge the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office and the local prosecutor barring the news organization from publishing the names of two deputies involved in a fatal shooting. The ruling, which granted the injunction without notice to the Herald-Tribune, is an unconstitutional prior restraint of the press, prohibited by the First Amendment as well as the Florida Constitution, says the newspaper. “Freedom of speech means that it’s up to the Herald-Tribune to decide whether to report information in its possession, especially facts about such a significant matter as a fatal shooting by law enforcement,” said newspaper attorney James Lake. “We fully expect that, once our arguments are heard, the injunction will be set aside.”

The injunction signed last Friday night by Circuit Judge Charles Roberts says the Herald-Tribune is “enjoined from publishing ... the personal information of Deputy Doe #1 and Deputy Doe #2, including but not limited to their names until further order of this Court.” Sarasota Sheriff Kurt Hoffman said the order is warranted "until an expedited hearing can be held to resolve the parties’ differing interpretations of the privacy protections afforded to our deputies by Marsy’s Law and the Florida Constitution." The last names of three deputies involved in a call for a court-ordered eviction in which one of them shot and killed Jeremiah Evans on April 1 were provided to the Herald-Tribune by the State Attorney’s Office in response to a routine public records request for a letter in which prosecutors had ruled the shooting was justified. The sheriff contends the identities of the deputies, including the one who killed Evans, are confidential under Marsy’s Law, which voters added to the Florida Constitution in 2018 and gives certain protections to crime victims.


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