MFIA has litigated cases addressing a wide range of issues affecting the work of journalists and the transparency of governments. Our current docket is organized around the following project areas:
Putting a spotlight on the inadequacy of current open government laws to facilitate adequately transparency and accountability around the use of algorithms and artificial intelligence to conduct government business. Projects currently include litigation over the assertion of trade secrets status to government algorithms and research into alternative transparency regimes.
Establishing and enforcing the public’s First Amendment right of access to government places, proceedings, and actions, and the related records. Projects currently include lawsuits to establish the public’s right to know the source of drugs used in lethal injection executions, a qualified constitutional right to classified information used in court proceedings, and limitations on sealed cases in federal courts.
Pursuing FOI litigation for access to information that improves government transparency, promotes public understanding, and enables democratic accountability. Typical projects include current cases to improve accountability of law enforcement agencies, to inform the public about the proponents of positions taken by the U.S. in trade negotiations, and to reveal the government’s positon on the legal bases for closing proceedings of the Military Commissions at Guantanamo to the public.
Under the guidance of experienced media lawyers, students from the Law School provide journalists at small and nonprofit news sites in New England with pro bono legal services to support their newsgathering and defend their publications. The Local News Initiative addresses an unmet need: While society today increasingly obtains its news and information online, journalists working locally and for online publishers often have limited access to legal assistance.
Asserting both statutory and constitutional rights of access to the information and proceedings needed for meaningful public oversight of our nation’s security policies and actions. Current lawsuits with intelligence agencies address issues of privacy, access to and control over communications infrastructure, and the legal obligations of intermediaries relating to national security investigations.
Adapting to new digital realities the long-recognized rights of journalists, and enforcing legal principles that preserve the flow of vital information to the public. Current projects include amicus efforts advocating for the recognition of a constitutional right to record matters of public concern.
The DocProject is a new program of the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School. Under the guidance of experienced media lawyers, Yale law students provide filmmakers with pro bono legal research and advice from the earliest stages of their projects through rough-cuts. The project’s mission is twofold: to assist documentary filmmakers who would not otherwise have access to legal resources, and to train the next generation of media lawyers.