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July 2024

MediaLawLetter July 2024

in this issue

MLRC and the Historic Commonwealth: Conferences in Sydney and Dublin

George Freeman

In January MLRC held a full-day Conference in Sydney, drawing some 125 Australian lawyers. Then last month, in Dublin, we presented the eighth in a series of European Conferences.


Ten Questions to a Media Lawyer

Kevin Goldberg

Freedom Forum First Amendment specialist on his start in the business, conversations with Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, why he avoids the term "weaponizing the First Amendment," and more.

NetChoice v. Moody: A Strong Statement of First Amendment Rights, But the Devil is in the Details

Jeff Hermes

On the surface, this ruling appears to ensure that the First Amendment protects the editorial discretion of platforms just as it has protected the editorial discretion of newspapers. But with a caveat in a concurrence from Justice Barrett and comments from the other four justices challenging the Court’s decision to apply the law based on an incomplete record, the lower courts have been provided with ample maneuvering room when they reconsider these cases.

Vidal v. Elster, or, What Happens When the Supreme Court Lacks a Fundamental Theory of the First Amendment

Jeff Hermes

The Court’s struggle to find a deciding principle stems directly from the siloing of First Amendment law into discrete doctrines – public forums, government benefits, and so on. The fact that this case did not neatly fit into these categories is what led Justice Thomas to abandon logic for history, Justice Kavanaugh to give up altogether, and Justices Barrett and Sotomayor to hunt for analogies.

Media Rallies to Support Citizen Journalist in SCOTUS Qualified Immunity Case

Jeffrey J. Pyle

More than thirty journalists and media organizations filed amicus briefs in support of Priscilla Villarreal, a citizen journalist who was arrested for requesting and reporting truthful information from a police officer.

First Anti-SLAPP Win under NJ’s New UPEPA Law

Bruce S. Rosen

Nine months after New Jersey enacted its first anti-SLAPP law, essentially adopting the Uniform Public Expression Protection Act, a New Jersey trial court was the first to dismiss a SLAPP action.

NY Appellate Court Affirms Dismissal of Claims and Award of Attorney’s Fees in Favor of Media

Karim A. Abdulla

In Swiezy v. Investigative Post et al., the plaintiffs, James R. Swiezy and his company, Buffalo-based Greenleaf Development & Construction, LLC (Greenleaf) sued Investigative Post (iPost) and its reporter Dan Telvock following the publication and broadcast of investigative news reports. Summary judgment was granted in favor of the press, and the Appellate Division affirmed. Background…

Fox News Dismissed from Lawsuit in Less Than 90 Days with Public Apology

Reid Pillifant

Garcia’s counsel publicly pilloried Fox—the first named defendant in the case—for its supposedly shoddy journalism. There was just one problem: Fox News Network had been careful not to publish Garcia’s image before it could be verified. As a result, Fox never published Garcia’s image.

Capitol “Rioter” Suit Against CNN Dismissed

Matt Kristoffersen

“At bottom, the Court agrees with CNN that Plaintiff Jacob Hiles ‘essentially is trying to blame CNN for taking his own words at face value,’” Judge Allen wrote in her decision granting summary judgment. “Under the circumstances of this case, CNN was entitled to do so, and its reporting is protected by the fair report privilege.”


First Amendment Lawsuit Forces Jail Policy Changes, Prompts National Call to Action

Paula Knudsen Burke

A journalist’s First Amendment lawsuit against a county in western Pennsylvania has resulted in a settlement agreement requiring local officials to revise policies that prevent jail employees from speaking publicly without the warden’s permission.

American Survivors of Israel’s Deadly 1967 Attack on the U.S.S. Liberty Still Seek Answers

Caesar Kalinowski IV

Kinnucan’s lawsuit forced the disclosure of hundreds of documents previously withheld by the government for decades. But NSA has repeatedly stalled and even unilaterally decided to “reprocess” her request after briefing on the case had commenced in the Ninth Circuit. The reason for the delay seems clear; time is running out.

Court Orders D.C. Police to Produce Thousands of Records About Monitoring Citizens’ Social Media Accounts

Alia Smith

The MPD produced more than 160,000 records totaling roughly 700,000 pages, which shed significant light on how MPD keeps tabs on citizens, including those engaged in lawful protest activity, through its monitoring of social media accounts. The District also agreed to pay $400,000 in attorneys’ fees.

A View from the Northern Ireland Bench

Mr. Justice Adrian Colton

I am delighted to be able to provide a perspective from the Northern Ireland Bench on freedom of expression, the right to privacy and the protection of reputation.