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December 2016

MediaLawLetter November 2016

in this issue

MLRC Dinner Addresses Tension Between National Security and Independent Press

The mood was at once funereal and electric as some 650 MLRC members and friends gathered November 9th, the day after the election, for the 2016 MLRC Annual Dinner in New York City. The program was in two parts – the presentation of the William J. Brennan Defense of Freedom Award to activist Daniel Ellsburg,…

Journalism Experts Debate Media Challenges Covering Trump Campaign

MLRC’s November 9th Forum Now Available as a Podcast By Michael Norwick This year’s MLRC Forum, held just hours after the surprise result of the 2016 presidential election, addressed the many contentious issues surrounding media coverage of the Trump campaign. The event, titled “The Day After: Media Fallout from Trump vs. Clinton,” a wink to…

NJ Court Orders Town to Release Memo on Social Media Policy

Public Use of Governmental Facebook Page May Implicate First Amendment By Raymond Baldino In a freedom of information law decision that touches upon a novel First Amendment question, a New Jersey court has ordered the disclosure of a one-paragraph memorandum drafted by the City Clerk of the City of Trenton, to the Trenton Police Department…


Colorado Trial Court Applies First Amendment Protections in Criminal Case Involving Juvenile

By Ashley I. Kissinger A Colorado state trial court recently vacated an unconstitutional prior restraint order in a decision that strongly endorses the notion that prior restraints are, and should be, very difficult to uphold. In the same case, the judge issued another opinion applying the First Amendment right of access to criminal case documents….


Maryland High Court Holds Vanity License Plates Are Nonpublic Forums

Subject To Reasonable and Viewpoint Neutral Restrictions By Adrianna C. Rodriguez In a decision that cited Cosmo Kramer’s “ASSMAN” license plate, George Carlin, and the King James Bible, The Maryland Court of Appeals held that the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration’s (“MVA”) decision to revoke a vanity license plate bearing the Spanish word for “shit” did…

Please, Don’t Leave a Message After the Beep

From the Next Gen Committee By Nikki Moore Once when I was in high school, I sat on my 2001 Ericsson pushbutton cellphone and recounted the night before, when I had taken my first shot of booze. Unbeknownst to me, my mother rode along, an invisible passenger, phoned-in to all the details. The butt-dial was…

Texas Appeals Court Addresses “Clear and Specific Evidence” Requirement in State Anti-SLAPP Law

By Cassidy Daniels An intermediate appeals court in Texas recently addressed the claimant’s evidentiary standard under Texas’s anti-SLAPP statute, the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA). The Amarillo Court of Appeals decided the question of how detailed “evidence” in a pleading must be in order to meet the burden of establishing a prima facie case by…


Reporter’s Claim That Veteran Lied About Purple Heart Not Actual Malice

By Sara Sáenz and Sarah Fehm Stewart The State Court of DeKalb County, Georgia, recently held that the plaintiff in a defamation case, a Veteran accused of lying about receiving a Purple Heart, failed to prove a FOX 5 investigative reporter acted with actual malice. The Court found that the plaintiff was an involuntary limited…


Seventh Circuit Reinstates Libel Claim vs. Gawker Over User Comment

Plaintiff Alleged Gawker Created Defamatory Comments Alleging that Gawker created defamatory user comments was sufficient to overcome a Section 230 defense, at least on a motion to dismiss. Huon v. Denton, No. No. 15-3049 (7th Cir. Nov. 14, 2016) (Williams, Easterbrook, Yandle, JJ.). According to the decision, there was “nothing farfetched about [plaintiff’s] factual allegations.”…

Who’s Your Daddy?: Third Circuit Affirms Dismissal of “Son of a Nazi” Libel Claim

By Robert Balin and John Browning The Third Circuit’s recent opinion dismissing a libel suit targeting the book The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler’s Men should come as welcome news for historians, authors and publishers of historical non-fiction. Soobzokov v. Lichtblau, 2016 WL 6543362 (3d Cir. Nov. 4, 2016)….


Minnesota Television Station and Newspaper Win Libel Trial

Plaintiff Sued After Being Named a Murder Suspect By Tom Curley Following ten hours of deliberation, a jury returned a defense verdict for the St. Cloud Times and KARE 11 television in a libel case arising out of the murder of a Minnesota police officer. Larson v. KARE-TV and the St. Cloud Times, (Minn. Dist….

MLRC in the Era of Trump

Annual Dinner and Forum Gleam on Maudlin Day After; Media Lawyers Meet to Gird for Access Issues Ahead By George Freeman The MLRC’s Forum and Annual Dinner last month were quite fascinating– but were overshadowed by the events of the prior 24 hours: the Presidential Election. Although they both contained useful nuggets and interesting discussions…

MediaLawLetter November 2016

 Download Publication MLRC From the Executive Director’s Desk: MLRC in the Era of TrumpDinner, Forum Gleam on Maudlin Day After;  Media Lawyers Meet to Gird for Access Issues Ahead Journalism Experts Debate Media Challenges Covering Trump CampaignMLRC’s November 9th Forum Now Available as a Podcast MLRC Dinner Addresses Tension Between National Security and Independent Press…