Rapid City Journal v. Circuit Court (Delaney)Annotate this Case
The underlying action in this case involved a dispute among a family-owned corporation's shareholders concerning the management and control of the business. The two factions asked circuit court judge John Delaney to determine the corporation's value. Before trial, Delaney entered an order that (1) imposed a gag order on the parties and (2) closed the trial and court records. Several media entities (the Media) petitioned for a writ of mandamus or prohibition, asserting that Delaney's gag order unlawfully interfered with Media's First Amendment and common law rights. The Supreme Court granted Media's request for a permanent writ of prohibition, holding (1) although the underlying trial was complete, Media's claims could be considered under an exception to the mootness doctrine because the issue presented was capable of repetition yet evading review; (2) the First Amendment affords the media and public a qualified right of access to civil trials in the state; (3) Delaney abused his discretion in closing the trial proceedings from the media and public because the procedure and reasoning he used was flawed; and (4) Delaney did not have statutory or legal authority to issue the gag order under the facts and circumstances of this case.