NYT Can Temporarily Keep Project Veritas Docs, Appeals Court Rules

The New York Times can maintain temporary access to copies of legal memos belonging to conservative group Project Veritas, an appeals court ruled on Tuesday in the NYT case that has drawn the attention of freedom of the press advocates.

The court’s stay is considered is a partial win for NYT after a judge continued last week the ban on the newspaper from publishing certain documents related to Project Veritas, siding with the organization, to which NYT objected.

Project Veritas, an organization that seeks to uncover wrongdoing and discredit mainstream media and liberal groups, filed a libel suit against the New York Times in 2020 regarding reporting about its founder James O’Keefe, accusing the newspaper of defamation.

Last week’s order arose from that lawsuit.

However, the Appellate Division of New York State Supreme Court upheld a key part of the ban imposed by Justice Charles D. Wood of the state Supreme Court in Westchester County, pointing that the newspaper is still temporarily barred from publishing the materials.

The New York Times is now asking for an expedited hearing instead of seeking an immediate lifting of that part of the order.

After the Appellate Division declined the paper’s request for another deadline, Project Veritas has until Jan. 14 to file its response.

Stressing that the proper administration of justice is paramount to American democracy, the First Amendment, and the press’s freedom under it, Project Veritas lawyer Elizabeth Locke noted on Tuesday that they joined NYT in its limited request to maintain the status quo to allow appellate review.

The focus of the libel suit is the documents are related to the group’s practices prepared by attorney Benjamin Barr for Project Veritas that NYT has obtained. The organization argued that the newspaper has acquired the documents improperly and therefore violated attorney-client privilege.

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