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January 2024

MediaLawLetter January 2024

in this issue

Questions and Predictions for ’24

George Freeman

MLRC executive director has questions on what the new year will bring in law, politics, sport, entertainment, and whether his column might benefit from an AI assist.


New York Times Awarded Nearly $400,000 in Trump Suit

Maya Gandhi

The decision arose from a lawsuit alleging that The Times had engaged in tortious interference by persuading Mr. Trump’s niece, Mary, to provide family financial documents to the reporters despite a confidentiality agreement that Mary and other family members had entered into as part of a settlement of an estate dispute.

New Jersey Appellate Division Affirms Dismissal of Defamation Claims Against Prominent Local Blogger

Joe Slaughter and Seth Berlin

The decision capped a long and winding case that ended up providing speech-friendly precedents on a number of valuable topics.

Dismissal of Golfer’s Defamation Suit and Fee Award Tees Up 11th Circuit’s Consideration of Anti-SLAPP in Federal Court

Linda Riedemann Norbut

The availability of Florida anti-SLAPP protection in federal court is teed up for resolution by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals following the award of sanctions to media defendants who prevailed on claims by professional golfer Patrick Reed.

Controversial Politician Kari Lake Loses Anti-SLAPP Motion, Showing Flaws in Arizona Statute

Gregg Leslie

The recent denial of a controversial Arizona anti-SLAPP motion by politician Kari Lake has demonstrated the flaws and unanswered questions hidden in the Arizona Anti-SLAPP law, which was amended in 2022 and has yet to be the subject of an appellate decision.

It’s “OK” To Call a Police Officer Racist

John C. Greiner and Darren Ford

The court had little trouble concluding that the allegedly offending statements were opinion protected under Ohio law.


Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms That Texas Book Rating System Is Unconstitutional

Laura Lee Prather

Unlike the oral argument which focused primarily on the unconstitutional definitions and the workings of the rating scheme, the ruling leaned into a surgical analysis of standing, ripeness, and sovereign immunity that dissected each of the State’s arguments as to government speech, the government operations doctrine, and warning labels in great detail.


PEN America, Penguin Random House First Amendment Lawsuit Over Book Removal Moves Forward

Ojasvinee Singh

The lawsuit challenges the removal and restriction of books from school libraries on First Amendment free speech and Fourteenth Amendment equal protection grounds.


Fifth Circuit Affirms Preliminary Injunction Against Texas Prosecution of Netflix

Miranda A. Cassidy

The Fifth Circuit concluded that the rule which ordinarily requires federal courts to abstain from interfering in state criminal prosecutions did not apply, due to the evidence that Netflix’s prosecution was the product of “bad faith” on the part of Tyler County District Attorney Lucas Babin.


Virginia Media Win Access to Report on School Shooting

David B. Lacy and Harley J. McClellan

The Circuit Court held that the Virginia Freedom of Information Act required disclosure of a school board’s investigation report into a graduation shooting even though a law firm conducted the investigation and prepared the report.

Ohio Supreme Court Finds Amusement Park’s Private Police Force Is Subject to Public Records Law

Ryan W. Goellner

The television stations’ requests first required analysis of a novel issue under Ohio law: whether a private police department created pursuant to a city ordinance and by agreement between the amusement park and the city was subject to Ohio’s Public Records Act.

FOIA Case for Records Could Mean Mexican Journalist Finally Wins Asylum in U.S.

Adam A. Marshall and Chuck Tobin

A federal FOIA case could be the key to a successful resolution of a Mexican journalist’s and his son’s decades-long fight for permanent U.S. asylum after fleeing their home country.


Lawsuit Over Alleged CIA Spying on Assange Visitors May Proceed in Part

Matt Kristoffersen

Four Americans may now proceed with their lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency for allegedly copying data from their devices while visiting Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

2023: A Year in Prior Restraints

Seth Stern

Freedom of the Press Foundation’s U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documented 11 prior restraints against journalists in 2023 (plus an 12th issued in January 2024) — the highest number since it began tracking them in 2017.