Starbucks County

Perhaps in line with a Starbucks policy prohibiting free publications in its coffeehouse locations, Travis County Commissioners are now considering imposing a similar ban in all county buildings. The commission was scheduled to take action on the matter at its Tuesday meeting, but postponed voting for another week after consulting with attorneys. Attorney Bill Hines, who publishes the "Court Guide" -- a tool to help the general public understand the court system -- testified against the ban, partly out of concern that it would be in direct violation of First Amendment rights.

"Everyone who works in and uses the courthouse loves the guide because it's the only one of its kind available," Hines said. He began publishing the guide about a year ago, he said, to help his own clients understand the criminal justice system, and then decided to provide additional copies at the courthouse as a public service. Hines draws some revenue through ads placed in the guide, including his own ad on the back page. He may consider legal action if the ban is approved. Other publications that would be affected by the new policy include Capital Metro bus schedules, the Chronicle, and an assortment of general-interest brochures and circulars.

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