First Amendment Clinic students and advisor in front of courthouse

First Amendment Clinic

"The very notion of a democratic society, where people have a role in their own governance, depends on having both access to information about the government and the right to distribute it freely without fear of retaliation or prosecution."
-Gregg P. Leslie, First Amendment Clinic Executive Director

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The First Amendment Clinic at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University was established to protect and defend First Amendment interests and to teach a new generation of lawyers how to help individuals stand up for their First Amendment rights. Our students interact with journalists and others to address the roadblocks keeping them from doing meaningful reporting.

Funded by an almost $1 million gift from the Stanton Foundation, a private organization established by longtime CBS president Frank Stanton, the clinic benefits both the community and the students who want to immerse themselves in promoting and defending First Amendment and press rights.

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From our blog

AZ high court improves media access during pandemic

In response to a request from the First Amendment Clinic for greater access for the news media to courtroom hearings and trials during the pandemic, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Brutinel revised the statewide policy to state that “judicial leadership should authorize admission of a media observer or a representative of a media pool […]

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Supreme Court considers access to trials, juror names

Superior Court case: State v. Wilson, No. S0200-CR2017-00516 (Cochise Cty. Super. Ct.) Supreme Court case: Morgan v. Dickerson, No. CV-20-0285-SA The First Amendment Clinic has been watching how the pandemic affects access to justice, and particularly how the necessary restrictions on the process to accommodate distancing might interfere with an open and public trial. Now, […]

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In the news: More on TikTok

Slate: “TikTok and the First Amendment: TikTok users have free speech rights—and courts should pay attention,” by Gregg Leslie

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TikTok and the First Amendment

Should the government be able to shut down a social media site because a foreign power can view the usage logs? The Trump administration seems to think so. But the First Amendment Clinic teamed up with the Electronic Frontier Foundation to argue that the First Amendment implications of such a shutdown have to be considered […]

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Challenging the secrecy in parental rights hearings

There are, of course, good reasons to protect the privacy of children who get swept up in the judicial system. But too much privacy can be a bad thing, particularly when it means that parents who are in court trying to keep custody of their own children are left too frightened by the courts’ admonishments […]

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Opening up the Border Patrol

The First Amendment Clinic has been working with The Intercept to obtain documents from the Border Patrol about efforts to target humanitarian aid volunteers. The following selection of articles illustrates the news media’s continuing efforts to provide the public with information about the federal government’s response to the ongoing crisis at the southern border and […]

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Gregg Leslie

Clinic Director

Gregg Leslie, Executive Director and Professor of Practice, has practiced media and First Amendment law since 1994. He came to the ASU College of Law to start the First Amendment Clinic in 2018 and previously served as legal defense director and staff attorney with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping journalists with legal issues. Gregg Leslie serves on the governing committee of the Communications Law Forum of the American Bar Association and was a member of the ABA's Fair Trial and Free Press Task Force in 2011. He also served as chairman of the D.C. Bar’s Media Law Committee and its Arts, Entertainment, Media & Sports Law Section.

James Weinstein

Faculty Advisor

James Weinstein, Faculty Advisor, is the Dan Cracchiolo Chair in Constitutional Law at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, a faculty fellow in the Center for Law, Science and Innovation at Arizona State University and an associate fellow with the Centre for Public Law at the University of Cambridge. His areas of academic interest are Constitutional Law--especially Free Speech, Jurisprudence, and Legal History. He has written articles on a variety of free speech topics, including free speech theory, obscenity doctrine, commercial speech, campaign finance reform, hate crimes, and campus speech codes.

David Bodney

David J. Bodney, Senior Counsel. at Ballard Spahr LLP, is a litigator who focuses on media and constitutional law and is the founder of Ballard Spahr's media law practice. For over 40 years, he has defended print, broadcast, and electronic media in defamation, privacy, and related First Amendment law cases. In addition, he has significant experience litigating complex commercial disputes, handling matters involving intellectual property, Native American law, and governmental affairs issues. His practice includes actions to secure open government, block prior restraints and subpoenas of reporters by government and third parties, and handling commercial speech, intellectual property law, and voting rights issues.

Kathy Brody

Kathy Brody, an attorney at Mitchell Stein Carey Chapman, is the former Legal Director of the ACLU of Arizona. She handles all types of criminal, regulatory, and administrative matters. Her practice focuses on defense in government investigations and handling complex matters where criminal law issues intersect with constitutional rights, civil liability, politics, and public relations. She has extensive expertise in legal ethics and professional responsibility and has served on the Arizona State Bar Ethics Committee and as the editorial board co-chair for the most recent edition of the Arizona Legal Ethics Handbook.

Paul Eckstein

Paul Eckstein, a partner at Perkins Coie LLP, focuses on civil litigation (including appellate matters) involving commercial, legal malpractice, constitutional, Indian law, and political law issues. He also frequently serves as a mediator and arbitrator and teaches Constitutional Law.

Jon Riches

Jon Riches, the Director of National Litigation & General Counsel at the Goldwater Institute, litigates in federal and state trial and appellate courts in the areas of economic liberty, taxpayer rights, public union, and pension reform, government transparency, free speech, and school choice, among others. He has developed and authored several pieces of legislation. He has previously served on active duty in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corps, clerked for Sen. Jon Kyl on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, and clerked in the Office of Counsel to the President.