Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Federal Judge Will Hear Arguments on Delaware's 'Secret' Business Court

The Delaware General Assembly meets in the Leg...Image via WikipediaUnited States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Judge Mary A. McLaughlin Thursday will hear arguments concerning whether a program instituted by Delaware's Court of Chancery violates the First Amendment.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, along with Associated Press and other media entities, have submitted supporting briefs for the plaintiff in the original case brought in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, Delaware Coalition for Open Government, Inc. v. The Hon. Leo E. Strine, Jr. et al (Case No. 1:11-cv-01015-MAM). At issue is a Chancery Court confidential arbitration program of which purportedly more than five companies have so far availed themselves.

The plaintiff contends businesses are using taxpayer-funded judges and a state court to litigate disputes without affording access to the public in violation of the First Amendment. Program backers claim it provides a revenue stream to Delaware and mirrors commonplace private arbitration programs. Participants shell out a $12,000 filing fee and pay $6,000 a day for the Chancery Court proceedings.

Whether the case should be tried or decided on the briefs will be on Judge McLaughlin's plate at Thursday's hearing.

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