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Vinson & Elkins and Dedman Law First Amendment Clinic Secure Pro Bono Victory for The Marshall Project in Travis County District Court

On April 22, 2021, Travis County District Court Judge Amy Clark Meachum granted the motion for summary judgment filed by Vinson & Elkins attorneys and students from the First Amendment Clinic at SMU’s Dedman School of Law on behalf of The Marshall Project as Intervenor-Relator in a Texas Public Information Act lawsuit.

The Marshall Project Mission Statement provides that it “is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization that seeks to create and sustain a sense of national urgency about the U.S. criminal justice system. We have an impact on the system through journalism, rendering it more fair, effective, transparent and humane.”

The suit was filed by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office after the Texas Attorney General required the release of Media Matters reports (emails about media inquiries and news stories) prepared by District Attorney Kim Ogg’s senior staff.

On March 11, 2021, Heather Sims, an SMU Dedman School of Law student, argued for The Marshall Project, aligned with the Attorney General’s office which had ruled that these reports had to be released, in the summary judgment hearing.

As a result of V&E and SMU’s advocacy, the Court sustained almost all evidentiary objections and granted our client’s summary judgment motion.

The V&E team included partner Tom Leatherbury, the director of the First Amendment Clinic, and associates Kyle Reynolds and Jimmy Chalk.

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