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January 2004

MediaLawLetter June 2004


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Legislative Update: Broadcast Decency, Coffin Photos & Sensitive Information

Prepub. Comm.: Congress Shall Make No Law Respecting an Establishment of Religion or Prohibiting Free Exercise Thereof….

Ethics Corner Unintended Consequences in Representing Multiple Media Clients


S.Ct.: Denies Cert. In Jenny Jones Wrongful Death Case & Ross v. Santa Barbara New- Press
Graves v. Warner Brothers, Ross v. Santa Barbara News-Press

S.Ct.: Vacates and Remands Cheney Energy Task Force Ruling
Cheney v. U.S. Dist. Ct.


Ga. Cnty. Ct.: Trial Court Denies Confidential Source Discovery in Richard Jewell Case
Court determines Jewell’s libel claims are not viable; source identities are not discoverable
Jewell v. Cox Enterprises, Inc.

1st Cir.: First Circuit Affirms $1,000 a Day Contempt Fine Against Reporter
Decision rejects First Amendment defense for refusing to reveal identity of confidential source
In Re Special Proceedings

S.D.N.Y.: Court Delays Decision About Reporter Subpoenas in Lynne Stewart Trial
Judge suggests it is not necessary to rule on this issue before trial
U.S. v. Lynne Stewart

NY Sup. Ct.: Magazine Product Tester Is Covered by NY’s Reporters Privilege
Court finds tester is a third-party “professional journalist” protected by state shield law
In re Huddy


D. Mass.: Madonna’s Ex Loses Libel Case, False Accusation of Being Gay Not Defamatory
Court indicates that after Lawrence v. Texas, accusation no longer imputes criminal conduct
Albright v. Morton

S.D.N.Y.: New York Court Suggests “Homosexual” May No Longer Be Defamatory
In dicta, judge notes changing social perceptions of homosexuality; rules on S/L grounds
Lewittes v. Cohen

Ill. Cir. Ct.: Daily Southtown Headline Found to Be a Fair Report
Judge dismissed case finding news article to be substantially true description of pending litigation
Garber v. Gadola, et al.

Mich. App.: Defamation Claim Against Source Reinstated
Court measures statute of limitations from date of broadcast instead of date of interview
Mitan v. Campbell

Conn. App.: Connecticut Newspaper Wins on Fair Report Defense
Court found statements at issue to be accurate accounts of a judicial decision
Burton v. American Lawyer Media

Conn. Super.: One Dollar in Damages Awarded Over “Mafia” Allegation
In a non-media case, jury awards social club nominal damages over letter sent to town board
Lega Siciliano Social Club, Inc. v. St. Germaine

Ill. App.: Columnist’s Opinion Defense Wins Appeal in Libel Case
Court affirms dismissal, holds statement to be non-verifiable opinion
Brennan v. Kadner

E.D. Pa.: Calling Man a “Drifter” Not Defamatory
Federal court grants newspaper’s motion to dismiss
Kreimer v. Philadelphia Inquirer, Inc.

D.C. Cir.: Affirms Dismissal of Ex-Congressman’s Conspiracy Suit Against Clinton
Complaint against Clinton and Carville time-barred; plaintiff failed to allege falsity against Flynt
Barr v. Clinton

Kan.: Civil Suits Challenge Kansas Municipal Criminal Defamation Law
Plaintiffs seek damages, declaration that ordinance is unconstitutional, permanent injunctions
How v. City of Baxter Springs, et al.; Thomas v. City of Baxter Springs, et al.

Kan. App.: Appeal of Criminal Libel Conviction Heard in Kansas
Court refused to consider amicus brief from media organizations
Kansas v. Carson


2d Cir.: Second Circuit Affirms Right of Access to Docket Sheets
On appeal, unanimous panel holds First Amendment right extends to docket sheets
Hartford Courant Co. v. Pellegrino

N.Y.A.D.: New York Appellate Court Upholds Ban on Cameras in Courtroom
Court declines to recognize a federal or state constitutional right to televise court proceedings
Courtroom Television Network LLC v. State of New York

Fla. Cir. Ct.: CNN Sues Florida for Copy of Suspected Felons List
News agency seeks access to Election Division’s list of 48,000 potentially disenfranchised felons
CNN v. Florida Department of State

N.J. Super.: Family Court Judge Unseals “Angel of Death’s” Domestic Violence File
Court holds constitutional right of access attaches to records of domestic violence proceedings
Taub v. Cullen (In re Petition to Intervene and for Access of The Morning Call)

Wash.: State Supreme Court Restricts Public Records Act
Majority in sharply divided court imputes general attorney-client privilege exemption
Hangartner v. City of Seattle

2d Cir.: Court Denies Access to John Rowland Grand Jury Investigation
Court rules opening the proceeding would reveal secret information

D.D.C.: ACLU Gets Expedited Review of Patriot Act FOIA Request
Pyrrhic victory as court holds information is exempt from disclosure
ACLU, et al. V. U.S. Dep’t of Justice


Cal.: State Supreme Court Remands Gerawan Again
Requires state to show compelled advertising program satisfies Central Hudson
Gerawan Farming, Inc. v. Kawamura

8th Cir.: “America’s Favorite Pasta” Claim Is Mere Puffery
Court affirms summary judgment dismissing Lanham Act claim over advertising slogan
American Italian Pasta Company v. New World Pasta Company


ECHR: Photos Taken in Public Can Violate Public Figure’s Right to Privacy
Reverses German court’s dismissal of Princess Caroline’s privacy claim over tabloid photos
von Hannover v. Germany

UK: High Court Refuses to Enjoin Newspaper Reports of Affair
Newspapers allowed to publish articles based on paid interviews with former mistress
Coe v. Mail on Sunday, Sunday Mirror

Australia: The Bashford Case: A Cause for Dancing in the Streets?
Divided high court opens the door for qualified privilege in cases involving subscription services
Bashford v. Information Australia Pty Ltd

N. Zealand: MP and Media Convicted of Contempt for Reports on Child Custody Care
Court finds “one-sided” news broadcasts improperly impacted case
Solicitor General for New Zealand v. Smith, TV3 Netwok Services Limited & Anor

Canada: Appeals Court Ups Damages in Cyberlibel Case
Court of Appeal increases trial court damages award of $15,000 by more than eight fold
Barrick Gold Corp. v. Lopehandia


Cal. App.: Contract and Negligence Claims Over Game Show Question Dismissed
Appellate court affirmed dismissal, holding defendants had absolute right to interpret questions
Rosner v. Valleycrest Productions Ltd. et al.

E.D.N.Y.: Lawyer-Novelist’s §1983 Claim Can Proceed Against Brooklyn DA
Court denies summary judgment to DA, holds fictional book involves matters of public concern
Reuland v. Hynes

U.S.: Pew Survey Says Bottom Line Pressure is Hurting News Coverage
Journalists concerned over effects of consolidation, changing deadline pressure on news coverage