The New York Times received a temporary reprieve to hold on to copies of memos written by a lawyer for Project Veritas.
A New York state appeals court issued a ruling on Tuesday that stays part of a trial judge's order last week requiring the New York Times to surrender physical copies or destroy electronic copies of the memos that the conservative group says are protected by attorney-client privilege.
But one other facet of the order by Justice Charles Wood of the state Supreme Court in Westchester County that remains in place prevents the New York Times from publishing the memos discussing the methods of reporting of Project Veritas, which is suing the newspaper for defamation.
"We are pleased that parts of an unconstitutional order have been stayed," said a New York Times spokesperson.
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The newspaper looks "forward to having the appellate division fully vacate the Supreme Court's order," the representative added.
Project Veritas “joined [the New York Times] in its very limited request to maintain the status quo to allow appellate review because the proper administration of justice is paramount to American democracy, the First Amendment and the press’s freedom under it," Elizabeth Locke, a lawyer for the group, said Tuesday.
A.G. Sulzberger, the publisher for the New York Times, reacted to Woods's ruling Dec. 24 by saying it "should raise alarms" for supporters of press freedom and anyone who may be worried about government overreach.
The defamation lawsuit, filed last year, focuses on the New York Times's portrayal of video reporting from Project Veritas that linked Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota to alleged voter fraud.
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The New York Times has been at the forefront of reporting on recent FBI raids of multiple locations tied to the group, including the home of founder James O'Keefe, said to be part of an investigation into the disappearance of a diary belonging to Ashley Biden, the youngest daughter of President Joe Biden.
In these reports, the newspaper quoted memos prepared by attorney Benjamin Barr for Project Veritas, which led to the group accusing the New York Times of violating attorney-client privileges. Although the New York Times argued the communications were obtained through "newsgathering efforts" outside of the litigation process, Woods sided with Project Veritas, saying his order is "no defeat for the First Amendment" and will "protect the integrity of the judicial process."
The Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court told Project Veritas to file its response by Jan. 14.