By Dylan Housman
The New York Supreme Court issued an opinion Friday that The New York Times improperly published privileged legal documents belonging to Project Veritas.
Project Veritas is in the midst of a suit against the NYT for defamation, and the paper published a story last month containing internal legal memos in which Project Veritas employees and attorneys discussed the outfit’s journalistic tactics. Project Veritas had argued that the NYT published the documents to harm their opponents in the ongoing litigation.
Christmas came early for our @dhillonlaw clients #projectveritas #jamesokeefe today! NY Trial court issued devastating opinion ruling that the @nytimes improperly obtained and published its litigation adversary’s non-waived privileged communications: pic.twitter.com/fdgxWiEjdM
— Harmeet K. Dhillon (@pnjaban) December 24, 2021
In November, a judge ruled that the NYT can no longer publish pieces containing internal communications of Project Veritas while the two are engaged in litigation. In Friday’s opinion, Justice Charles Wood wrote that the NYT gathered the Veritas communications through “irregular” means: “The court finds that Project Veritas has met its burden of showing that the subject memoranda were obtained by irregular means, if not both irregular and improper means.”
“Like the attorney-client privilege, the First Amendment is vital to our republic, but also has limits,” the opinion continued. “‘For even though the broad sweep of the First Amendment seems to prohibit all restraints on free expression, this Court has observed that freedom of speech does not comprehend the right to speak on any subject at any time.’” (RELATED: Judge Orders FBI To Halt ‘Extraction’ From James O’Keefe’s Phone Amid Leaks To NYT)
After Project Veritas employees were raided by the FBI for its involvement in a case in which they obtained an old diary belonging to Ashley Biden, the New York Times was the first outlet to be aware of the raid and contact Veritas founder James O’Keefe for comment. Project Veritas has since alleged that there is a leak within the FBI or the Department of Justice to the NYT.
“The New York Times has long forgotten the meaning of the journalism it claims to espouse, and has instead become a vehicle for the prosecution of a partisan political agenda. Today’s ruling affirms that the New York Times’ behavior was irregular and outside the boundaries of law,” Project Veritas attorney Libby Locke told the Daily Caller. “The Court’s thoughtful and well researched opinion is a victory for the First Amendment for all journalists and affirms the sanctity of the attorney-client relationship.”