A judge in court in New York on Tuesday declined to overturn an order temporarily prohibiting the New York Times from posting or prosecuting certain documents related to the conservative group Project Veritas. The judge said at a hearing that he needed additional time to consider arguments and asked for additional pleadings next week.
The outcome of the hearing puts in effect for now an order that the Times and national supporters of the First Amendment denounced as a highly unusual case of a court encroaching on the constitutional protection of journalists. Project Veritas has argued that the order is not a major imposition.
The Times attorneys had hoped their arguments would induce Judge Charles D. Wood of the State Supreme Court in Westchester County to overturn the written order he issued last week.
“We are disappointed that the order persists, but we welcomed the opportunity to go directly to the court on the grave concerns of the First Amendment raised by prior reluctance,” said Danielle Rhoades Ha, a spokeswoman for the Times, in a statement.
The order is part of a 2020 defamation lawsuit against The Times by Project Veritas, whose leader, provocateur James O’Keefe, often uses hidden cameras and false identities to embarrass Democrats, labor groups and news outlets.
The Justice Department is investigating the Veritas project for its possible involvement in the theft of a diary belonging to Ashley Biden, President Biden’s daughter. The Times, which covered the investigation, published an article on Nov. 11 containing an excerpt from memos prepared by a Project Veritas attorney investigating the legality of the group’s fraudulent reporting practices.
These memos precede the Times libel case several years. However, Project Veritas argued that by publishing the memos, the newspaper violated its right to legal secrecy and accused the newspaper of embarrassing a legal opponent. Justice Wood ordered the Times to stop distributing Project Veritas materials and “stop further efforts to solicit or acquire these materials” in order to effectively prevent further coverage by its journalists.
A Project Veritas attorney, Elizabeth Locke, said in a statement Tuesday, “Like any other litigant, the New York Times must not use its adversary’s privileged attorney-client communications to violate the essential rights of its adversary – this one.” Have the right to communicate freely and openly with your lawyer. “
Justice Wood asked Project Veritas on Tuesday to file another pleading December 1st. The Times has until December 3rd to reply.
Late last week, the Times asked a state appeals court to overturn Justice Wood’s order, a motion that was denied.