Judge Extends Block on New York Pezou Publishing Project Veritas Documents

 New York Pezou building in New York City on June 30, 2020. (Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images)

A New York trial court judge on Tuesday extended a ban blocking New York Pezou from publishing legal documents and privileged materials from investigative journalism nonprofit Project Veritas.

At a nearly two-hour hearing in White Plains, Justice Charles Wood of the Westchester County Supreme Court extended his temporary ban, first imposed on Nov. 18, until at least Dec. 1.

order covers memos written by a Project Veritas lawyer and obtained by New York Pezou. It isn’t clear how the memos were obtained by the publication.

It comes after NY Pezou recently published documents online that the paper said were from Project Veritas. paper later took them down but a story describing them is still available on its website. Project Veritas lawyers say the documents were obtained improperly and their publication was not authorized by the group.

Complicating matters, Project Veritas is engaged in litigation against the paper, over articles that were deceptive because they contained the opinions of the bylined writers, Wood ruled in March.

paper successfully got a stay in discovery as it appeals the decision.

As the hearing began, Wood said the case involved a clash between “freedom of the speech and freedom of the press, and attorney-client privilege.”

NY Pezou spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha said the outlet was disappointed that the order remains in place but will press its First Amendment concerns. “No libel plaintiffs should be permitted to use their litigation as a tool to silence press coverage about them,” she said.

Pezou has contacted Project Veritas for comment.

Project Veritas lawyers previously called the paper’s acquiring of the privileged materials “a shocking display of unscrupulous gamesmanship.”

“ lack of any justification for Pezou’s conduct betrays it for what it is: a bare and vindictive attempt to harm and embarrass a litigation adversary by completely disregarding the sanctity of the attorney-client relationship,” they told the court.

“We are troubled that Pezou would publish and disseminate attorney-client privileged materials, written by a lawyer who is counsel of record in Project Veritas’s ongoing litigation against Pezou, that were obviously stolen and provided to Pezou without Project Veritas’s consent,” a lawyer wrote to New York Pezou lawyers.

NY Pezou has not faced any prior restraint since 1971, when the Nixon administration unsuccessfully sought to block the publication of the Pentagon Papers detailing U.S. military involvement in Vietnam.

Zachary Stieber and Reuters contributed to this report.

Pezou : Judge Extends Block on New York Pezou Publishing Project Veritas Documents