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January 2004

MediaLawLetter December 2004


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Thank You to MLRC Chair Hal Fuson & DCS President Bruce Johnson

Minutes of the MLRC Annual Meeting

Minutes of the Defense Counsel Section Annual Meeting

Legislative Update: Reporter’s Privilege, International Press & Open Government

Ethics Corner: Uninvited E-mails Making Unwanted Inquiries


D.R.I.: Reporter Sentenced to Six Month’s House Arrest
Refused to reveal source of leaked videotape
In re Special Proceedings

D.C. Cir.: Court of Appeals Hears Miller Cooper Appeal 8
In re Grand Jury

S.D.N.Y.: A Victory for the Reporter’s Privilege in Federal Criminal Proceedings
Court quashes subpoena for outtakes
U.S. v. Grant


D. Mass.: Ex-Prosecutor Wins $950,000 Libel Verdict Against Boston Phoenix
Jury finds allegations of child molestation false and negligent
Mandel v. The Boston Phoenix, Inc.

Minn. Dist.: Public Official Awarded $625,500 in Suit Against Local Newspaper
Editorial criticizing commissioner published with actual malice
Workman v. Southwest Publishing Co.

Ill. Cir. Ct.: Update: $400,000 Award to Local Politico Reversed
JNOV granted in case over land sale column
Board of Trustees v. Southland Community Newspaper

7th Cir.: 7th Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Islamic Charity’s Libel Suit Against Six National News Organizations
Court of appeals found statements by defendants were “substantially true”
Global Relief Foundation, Inc. v. The New York Times Co. et al.

E.D. Va.: New York Times Wins Libel Suit from Anthrax Columns
Columnist did not defame plaintiff in columns criticizing FBI investigation
Hatfill v. The New York Times Co.

Cal.: California Supreme Court Overrules “Briscoe”
Court rejects claim of “rehabilitation” exception to publication of public facts
Gates v. Discovery Communications

Tex.: Texas Supreme Court Addresses Constitutional Limits on Punitive Damages
Million dollar award vacated as potentially excessive
Bunton v. Bailey

S.D.N.Y: Public Official Plaintiff Must Testify about Private Matters
Gary Condit ordered to answer questions about relationship with Chandra Levy
Condit v. Dunne

Ala.: Media Defendants’ Salary Not Discoverable
Income not relevant to actual malice or harm to reputation
Ex parte Crawford Broadcasting

N.C.: Reporter Charged with Crime for Telephoning a Source
Reporter arrested for harassment for leaving three recorded messages

10th Cir.: 10th Circuit Applies Libel Proof Plaintiff Doctrine
Convicted murderer is libel proof
Lamb v. Rizzo

N.D. Ill.: Libel and False Light Claims Against Radio Station Dismissed
Innocent construction rule barred claims
Mancari v. Infinity Broadcasting East Inc.

Ariz. Super. Ct.: “Girls Gone Wild” Wins Summary Judgment in Arizona Privacy Action
Videos of plaintiff displayed accurate conduct and did not place her in false light
Schindler v. MRA Holdings, LLC

Bankr. S.D.N.Y.: Publication of Teen’s Spring Break Photo in Penthouse Not Actionable
Judge holds article and pictorial did not imply a false and defamatory statement
In re General Media, Inc.

Bankr. Ariz.: Another Twist in Comic Book Case: Bankruptcy
Todd McFarlane Productions declares bankruptcy

Fla. Cir. Ct.: Florida Teacher’s False Light Claim Dismissed
News segment featuring footage of plaintiff did not place her in a false light
Jones-Wilborn v. WCTV

Tex. Dist. Ct.: Defamation by Making Connections Between Unrelated Words and Phrases
Plaintiff’s claim focuses on isolated statements in introduction and appendix of book
The Local Church, et al. v. Harvest House Publishers


S.D.N.Y.: No Gag Order Against Radio Host in Mob Trial
Judge rules lesser measures can avoid jury prejudice
U.S. v. Gotti

N.Y. Sup. Ct.: Student Press Wins Right to Publish Names of Assault Victims
NYU student newspaper not bound by prior restraint
Jane Doe 1 v. New York University


U.S.: Supreme Court to Review Grokster Case
Does peer-to-peer file sharing software constitute copyright infringement
Metro-Goldwyn -Mayer Studios, Inc. v. Grokster Ltd.

6 th Cir., Fed. Cir.: Federal Court of Appeal Analyze Scope of DMCA
Digital Millennium Copyright Act doesn’t apply to replacement parts
Lexmark v. Static Control Components, Chamberlain Group v. Skylink Technology


Canada: Contempt Ruling Against Canadian Reporter
Reporter held in contempt over failure to divulge confidential sources

England: George Galloway Wins Libel Trial Against Telegraph
Jury finds reports of links to Saddam Hussein libelous
Galloway v. Telegraph


FCC: A New Era of Broadcast Content Regulation?
2004 saw record fines issued against radio and television by the FCC


Ohio: Ohio General Assembly Again Passes Tort Reform Legislation
Senate Bill 80 would cap noneconomic and punitive damages

U.S.: Supreme Court Imports “Newsworthiness” Standard into Public Concern Doctrine
Police officer’s “expressive conduct” did not amount to matter of public concern
City of San Diego v. Roe

Nev.: Nevada “Son of Sam” Law Ruled Unconstitutional
Statute is content-based restriction and over-inclusive
Seres v. Lerner

N.D. Ga.: Court Awards Publishers Over $1.3 Million in Fees in Newsrack Dispute
Publishers awarded attorneys’ fees in over newsrack regulations
Atlanta Journal Constitution v. City of Atlanta Dept. of Aviation

Mich. Atty. Discipline: Board Dismisses Attorney Discipline Charges Over “Revolting” Radio Comments
Famed attorney Geoffrey Fieger Compared Judges to Nazis
Grievance Adminstrator v. Fieger

Polls: Reporters Near Bottom on List of Most Honest and Ethical Professionals
Gallup poll ranks reporters below nurses, above lawyers, Separate poll looks at where Americans get their news

Colo.: Appeals Court Rejects Criminal Libel Request
Court rejects effort to prosecute Daily Camera for Jon Benet murder coverage
White v. Smith

N.C. App. Ct.: Newspaper Publisher Not Liable for Burglary of Plaintiffs’ Home
Defendant was not negligent in handling of stop-delivery notice
Lambeth v. Media General, Inc.