An effort to keep Nashville police from disclosing the identities of arrestees has gained the support of a federal judge and drawn objections from officials and the news media, who are concerned that the public would be kept in the dark about important crimes. U.S. Magistrate Judge John S. Bryant urged U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger to force police and the state to abide by an agreement they made in 1974 to settle a lawsuit. County and state law-enforcement agencies agreed not to announce the names of people arrested until after a conviction in court.
In July, Vanderbilt University law Prof. James Blumstein, who represented “John Doe” in the case more than three decades ago, asked a federal judge to force officials to abide by the deal. Police have taken down a Web site featuring photos and other information about people arrested on charges of soliciting prostitutes. A police spokesman said it is important “when we solve a significant case that the community knows who is being charged, what the charges are.” Gene Policinski of the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt said, “As an American, I would be very concerned if it was possible for me to be arrested and held, perhaps until trial, and there was no means available to the public, through its representative the press, to know that I was in jail.”