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August 2022

MediaLawLetter July-August 2022

in this issue

London Conference to Feature Engaging Programming, Lavish Receptions, International Ambiance

George Freeman

MLRC has planned an event which should be exciting to all sorts of media lawyers, with a variety of educational and entertaining programs. But to be frank, credit to the MLRC should be shared with the wonderful city of London itself.


Ten Questions to a Media Lawyer: Charles “Chip” Babcock

Renowned Jackson Walker litigator on his childhood newspaper, litigating on behalf of a parking garage and Oprah Winfrey, work-life balance, karaoke picks, and more.

Florida Federal Court Releases Redacted Warrant Affidavit in Unprecedented Search of Former President Trump’s Florida Residence

Charles D. Tobin and Elizabeth Seidlin-Bernstein

The news organizations argued that, even in the middle of an investigation and before any indictment, a search warrant affidavit is a judicial record to which the presumption of public access attaches.

New York Times Prevails in Two Related Defamation Lawsuits

Dave Heller

The state court found that terms such as "racist" and "white nationalist" are non-actionable opinion and that, even if actionable, plaintiff had failed to show any evidence of actual malice.

Ninth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Protracted Planet Aid Libel Matter

Shawn Musgrave and D. Victoria Baranetsky

The panel affirmed the district court’s granting of a motion to strike under California’s anti-SLAPP law, finding that the lower court correctly determined that plaintiffs, were limited-purpose public figures and that they had failed to satisfy the actual malice standard.

Orange Crushed: D.C. Court Dismisses Politician’s SLAPP Suit

Matthew Cate, Chad R. Bowman, and Charles D. Tobin

A D.C. politician failed to assert viable claims against a newspaper over coverage of his departure from government service and his “rocky” tenure at the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, a D.C. Superior Court judge ruled in August.

Texas Court of Appeals Upholds Anti-SLAPP Dismissal of Claims Brought by Suspect in Child Pornography Case

Catherine Robb

FTS filed an Anti-SLAPP Motion arguing that the complained of statements were substantially true, accurate reports of third-party allegations, and privileged under the fair report and fair comment privilege.

Michigan Judge Gives Boot to Libel Suit By Man Who Gave Nazi Salute, Shouted ‘Heil Hitler’ At School Board Meeting

Herschel P. Fink

A man who disrupted a suburban Detroit school board hearing with a Nazi salute and shouts of “Heil Hitler!” to protest a proposed mask mandate, and then sued for libel after his actions were widely reported, lost his case against five news outlets.

Court Dismisses Radio Host’s “Liar Libel” Defamation Claim

Steven Mandell, Brian D. Saucier and Lyndsey Wajert

The judge dismissed the lawsuit against the Chicago media company, deciding the company’s statement, merely expressing disagreement with its former employee’s “characterizations,” did not constitute defamation.


Court Dismisses Defamation Lawsuit Over Holocaust Complicity

Damon Dunn and Seth Stern

A judge dismissed defamation and false light invasion of privacy claims filed by three ethnic Poles who alleged that a Chicago Sun-Times opinion columnist ascribed “felonies under the laws of Illinois and Poland” to the “Plaintiffs and/or their families and Poles in general” when it referred to “widespread collaboration” in the killing of Jews during WWII.

In Siding with Praying Coach, SCOTUS Bolsters Religious Freedom of Speech

Camille Richieri

In the recent Kennedy v. Bremerton School District decision, the Supreme Court held that a public high school football coach had a constitutional right to pray at the 50-yard line after games.


The Right to Record: Same Circuit, Favorable Facts, Different Result

Mickey H. Osterreicher and Alicia Wagner Calzada

The Tenth Circuit is the first even-numbered jurisdiction to join the consensus of authority on the right to record police in public despite, less than a year before, having refused to reach that conclusion in another case.


Second Circuit Sua Sponte Shrinks Definition of “Agency Records”

Stephen Stich

The ruling bowls over text and precedent and is a potential disaster for government transparency.

Whose Record Is It Anyway? Journal Sentinel Wins Access to Surveillance Video Footage

Julie A. Yedowitz and Michael J. Grygiel

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals affirmed a Circuit Court order requiring the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office to disclose surveillance video footage in its possession in response to an open records request filed by the Journal Sentinel.


Court Dismisses Trademark & Related Claims Over Product Reference in Fictional TV Show

Kelli L. Sager, Dan Laidman, and Sarah Burns

Reinforcing the strong First Amendment protections for the use of real-life products and brands in expressive works, a Los Angeles federal court rejected a trademark and trade libel suit over an episode of “Evil.”


In Conversation with Judge Luttig

Camille Richieri

In a recent MLRC Zoom call, Judge Luttig discussed the testimony he gave before the House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot.