Biz newspaper lawsuit against mayor ruled moot
A business newspaper’s lawsuit against an Ohio mayor who ordered his staff not to talk to the paper’s reporters has been rendered moot by an appeals court because the Youngstown mayor is no longer in office, according to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
The committee’s report on the case noted, “The February 2005 edict from then-Mayor George McKelvey barred city workers from talking to reporters from The Business Journal, a twice-monthly newspaper. Mayor Jay Williams took office Jan. 1 and formally rescinded McKelvey’s edict, rendering the case moot, a three-judge panel of the appellate court ruled unanimously in an unpublished opinion that did not address constitutional free-speech issues argued by the newspaper.
“‘In this case, there is simply no indication that the new mayor of Youngstown, Mayor Williams, will return to the ‘old ways’ of Mayor McKelvey and issue a similar edict. . . . Had Mayor McKelvey — rather than Mayor Williams — revoked the edict during this litigation, then we would be more inclined to find that such an act was done to defeat judicial review,’ Judge Cornelia G. Kennedy wrote for the court. ‘Yet we find the edict was revoked not to defeat litigation, but simply due to a change in circumstances.’
“The three-judge panel vacated a May 2005 ruling from U.S. District Judge Peter Economus that McKelvey did not violate the First Amendment and that enforcing news media access to information not otherwise available to the general public would afford the media a special privilege.”
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