Published on: Thursday, September 2, 2021

National Public Radio Inc. asked a federal judge to block enforcement of a Maryland law that prohibits broadcasting recordings of state criminal court proceedings, claiming the measure violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments in a suit filed Wednesday (article available here).

NPR said it wants to use legally obtained recordings from the state criminal trial of Jarrod Ramos, who was found criminally responsible for the murder of five journalists in the Annapolis offices of the Capital Gazette in 2018. The Broadcast Ban is unconstitutional because it punishes the broadcasting of court records that members of the public have the right to obtain, NPR said.

According to the complaint, in an attempt to avoid litigation, NPR submitted a letter to the Office of the Maryland Attorney General describing its intended use of the recordings, including in an upcoming episode of the NPR podcast Embedded. NPR says it asked that the state not seek sanctions against NPR for using the recordings in its reporting.

The Attorney General’s office would not agree to forego any enforcement action.