Discussion will mark 40th anniversary of NPA v. Stuart

· 3 min read

Discussion will mark 40th anniversary of NPA v. Stuart

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications and the University of Nebraska College of Law are hosting a panel discussion to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart decision.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision held that prior restraint against the press in the Nebraska case violated the First Amendment of the Constitution. Students, media, attorneys, faculty and the general public are invited to the College of Law’s Hamann Auditorium in McCollum Hall, 1875 N. 42nd St., from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. April 14.

“Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart is taught in journalism colleges throughout the country and is likely the most significant of all First Amendment cases,” said Maria Marron, dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. “We are proud and delighted to celebrate this landmark decision and the people who made it possible and to continue the discussion about the importance of freedom of the press.”

The case stemmed from the murders of six members of the Kellie family in Sutherland on Oct. 18, 1975. After the suspect was detained by law enforcement, there was a high level of media coverage about the proceedings. The attorneys on the case asked the court to restrict reporting to maintain neutral jury selection.

Ultimately, in an opinion issued on June 30, 1976, the Supreme Court ruled that “prior restraints on speech and publication are the most serious and least tolerable infringement on First Amendment rights,” except when “clear and present danger” would impede the process of a fair trial.

“Today, our society still grapples with the question of how the government, and specifically courts, should balance necessary secrecy with the need for judicial transparency,” said Richard Moberly, interim dean of the College of Law. “This panel of lawyers and media professionals will provide important perspectives on that issue.”

The panel includes:

  • John Bender, professor of journalism and mass media law at UNL.

  • Steven Burns, judge, Third Judicial District.

  • Richard Dooling, College of Law lecturer.

  • Alan Peterson, Lincoln trial attorney.

  • Rose Ann Shannon, KETV news director.

Bill Kelly, senior producer with Nebraska Educational Telecommunications, will moderate the panel. Nebraska Supreme Court Justice William Cassel will provide a closing.

A light lunch will be provided during the panel. Attorneys can receive Continuing Legal Education credit for attending.

For more information, contact Sue Roush at 402-472-3141 or sroush2@unl.edu, or Amber Wolff at 402-472-7065 or amberwolff@unl.edu.

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