Pa. judge rescinds order directing newspapers to delete archived stories

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Editor’s note: On July 7, Centre County Judge Thomas King Kistler rescinded the two remaining court orders that directed the Centre Daily Times and The Daily Collegian to delete archived stories about defendants. Kistler said he and other Centre County judges met July 7 with defense attorney Joseph Amendola, after which Kistler signed new expungement orders that did not include the newspapers. Kistler also said the court would examine 36 other newly discovered expungement orders that also mention the newspapers.

BELLEFONTE, Pa. — A central Pennsylvania judge has rescinded an order directing two newspapers to delete archived stories about three defendants.

Centre County Judge Bradley Lunsford says he signed new expungement orders today reverting to typical language directing public agencies to clear records when charges are dismissed, withdrawn or otherwise no longer applicable.

In an unusual step, a defense attorney included the Centre Daily Times and The Daily Collegian, Penn State’s student newspaper, in submitting initial orders for five defendants.

Attorney Joe Amendola had said he added the newspapers to the orders because the news media’s First Amendment rights were trumping his client’s rights to have their records cleared.

“What’s the sense in having your record expunged if anyone can Google you and it comes up?” Amendola asked, as quoted by the Centre Daily Times.

Lunsford cited free-press concerns in issuing the new orders.

Earlier, in an e-mail to the Centre Daily Times, Lunsford said the provisions pertaining to the newspapers “should never have been added to our standard expungement orders and were included without the court’s authorization.”

Another judge’s orders covering the remaining defendants are still pending.

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