NEW ORLEANS – In swift victory for free speech, U.S. Magistrate Judge Sally Shushan confessed she lacked authority to pull video clips of testimony from former BP chief Tony Hayward from websites YouTube and The Daily.
On July 11, she vacated a July 5 order calling for the websites to remove and surrender video of Hayward testifying about the Deepwater Horizon explosion.
YouTube showed it as of July 18, promoting it as video BP doesn't want anyone to see.
BP, however, didn't ask Shushan to pull the video.
She acted on her own, finding YouTube and The Daily violated a standing order against releasing depositions or making them available to the public.
She directed the clerk to serve The Daily, YouTube, and Google Inc.
The Daily challenged Shushan's authority by letter on July 7.
Lori Mince of New Orleans wrote, "The Daily is an independent news organization and is not subject to the pretrial order at issue in this matter, which only governs the parties and counsel in this litigation."
She wrote that it was immaterial whether the release violated the order.
"In any event, the information at issue here was lawfully obtained by The Daily, which simply accepted the video clips provided by a party in this case," Mince wrote.
"It is beyond dispute that receiving newsworthy materials from sources is a commonplace way to gather and report the news."
She wrote that Shushan issued the order without notice or opportunity to be heard.
"We do not waive our right to question the procedural and jurisdictional infirmities of the
order, but are hopeful that the matter can be resolved quickly without the need for formal proceedings," she wrote.
Shushan resolved it quickly, restoring Hayward's star status on the Internet.
Shushan assists U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in managing about 450 Deepwater Horizon suits from federal courts in many states.