Courthouse News Services v. Brown, No. 18-1230 (7th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
Courthouse News Service (CNS) sought injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. 1983, arguing that the First Amendment requires the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, to release newly filed complaints to the press at the moment of receipt by her office—not after processing. The Seventh Circuit reversed the district court’s order granting a preliminary injunction and ordered the action dismissed without prejudice, noting that neither the Seventh Circuit nor the U.S. Supreme Court provides the press with such instant access to court filings, but undertake certain administrative processing before a filing is made publicly available. Adhering to the principles of equity, comity, and federalism, the district court should have abstained from exercising jurisdiction over this case. The court noted that the procedures at issue involve a delay of no more than one business day in access to the vast majority of electronically filed complaints and stated that the state courts deserve the first opportunity to hear such a constitutional challenge to their internal procedures.