“It’s accurate when it was reported, and that means there’s nothing illegal about it,” she said. “It’s protected speech.”
Amendola did not immediately return phone messages from the AP seeking comment. He told the Daily Times this was a national issue bigger than the newspaper and judges.
“What’s the sense in having your record expunged if anyone can Google you and it comes up?” he was quoted by the newspaper as saying. “Ultimately, this is an issue that needs to be decided by the legislature.”
The Centre County judges usually sign 30 to 50 such orders at a time, once or twice a week. The orders are vetted by the probation department and the district attorney’s office before going to a judge for approval.
Lunsford said his new orders, first submitted for approval by Daily Times attorneys, also rescinded a mandate that a private web site that allows the public to search criminal records also expunge information.
Defense lawyers might be frustrated about the availability of information on the internet, Lunsford said.
“But what they don’t realize from the court’s perspective, we only have jurisdiction over government offices that play a part in the prosecution of a particular individual, and no one else,” he said.
The Daily Times had published short stories on the cases of two defendants, while the other three cases appeared in weekly court reports. Executive editor Bob Heisse likened archived stories to historical records of facts, which aren’t altered.
“I appreciate [Lunsford] acting as fast as he could to straighten this out,” Heisse said. “It’s very clear that it was on the wrong path.”
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