News

Format: 2017-04-24
Format: 2017-04-24
June 17, 2014
Nik Richie, operator of the website TheDirty.com, cannot be held liable for potentially defamatory remarks made by a third-party poster on his website, according to a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling released Monday. The court reversed a district court ruling that held Richie could be liable because he “encouraged” defamatory statements and then “adopted” the statements by adding his own comments to the posts. The court describes TheDirty.com as “a user-generated, online tabloid” where users can post gossip about anyone, often private individuals.
June 17, 2014
Utah’s court system began allowing TV cameras, smartphones and laptops into public court proceedings last year, but officials revised that rule after repeatedly denying one man’s requests to record family law proceedings. The revision reverses the presumption that video cameras are allowed in family court proceedings, and, instead, lets the judge weigh a number of factors to decide when taping is allowed. Though judges made the rule effective immediately, Utah’s Judicial Council is considering comments from the public on the proposal until June 24 and plans to permanently vote on the rule change in August. In January, family law attorney Eric Johnson began making dozens of recording requests for hundreds of divorce cases. Only one request was granted.
June 17, 2014
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago (7th Cir.) reversed a trial court ruling that would have reportedly been the first case in which defense attorneys obtained access to government surveillance court materials. The three-judge panel sided with the government Monday, stating that the disclosure of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court records to the attorneys of Adel Daoud would pose a threat to national security. Daoud was arrested in 2012 for attempting to bomb a Chicago bar in what turned out to be a sting operation. The court submitted its public opinion with a sealed, classified opinion that provides more explanation. Judge Richard Posner wrote that the district court erred in thinking the defense attorneys’ security clearances entitled them access to the materials, which he believed could pose a threat to national security.
June 16, 2014
The town of Weare, New Hampshire, settled a lawsuit last week for $57,500 with a woman arrested for videotaping a police officer, adding to the growing list of settlements stemming from police officers’ restriction of video and audio recordings in public places. In Gericke v. Begin, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston (1st Cir.) upheld a lower court opinion that Carla Gericke was within her First Amendment rights to record a police officer at a traffic stop. Following that opinion, instead of choosing to continue with the trial, Weare settled the case with Gericke. Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, said most of the cases in which citizens sue police for unlawfully arresting them or confiscating their cameras reach a settlement, although this settlement was low in comparison to others he has noticed.
June 13, 2014
Spurred by a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court not to hear an appeal by New York Times reporter James Risen – which could result in Risen going to jail or being fined for not naming his source – media organizations stress that now is the time to pass a federal shield bill. More than 70 news organizations – the Reporters Committee included – sent a letter to the Senate majority and minority leaders earlier this week, urging them to schedule a vote on the shield bill.
June 13, 2014
After a drawn out legal battle over access to police car dashcam videos between TV station KOMO and the Seattle Police Department, the local news source received a favorable opinion from the Washington State Supreme Court. The court concluded the police should have released videos in response to two public records requests made by KOMO reporter Tracy Vedder. KOMO sued for access when the Department of Justice was investigating the Seattle Police Department for use of excessive force.
June 13, 2014
A Colorado district court judge on Wednesday rejected the defendant’s request to close the jury selection process for the Aurora theater shooting trial. Arapahoe County Judge Carlos Samour denied the request for complete closure to the public and the media and the prosecution’s request for partial closure of the selection process. Instead, the court opted to open the entire process, only withholding the names of prospective and seated jurors and the jury questionnaires.
June 12, 2014
In a decision on whether a student could record court proceedings, the Court of Appeals of Georgia stated this week that courts risk harming key constitutional rights by attempting to distinguish who is “legitimate ‘news media.’” Joshua McLaurin, a student at Yale Law School, asked to record criminal proceedings in two different counties in July 2013 for a project examining the experiences of impoverished defendants in the Georgia criminal justice system. McLaurin cited two different Georgia laws in his application: Uniform Superior Court Rule 22 and a section of the Georgia code regarding general standards for requesting permission to record court proceedings. The trial court held that Rule 22 only applies to news media, so it applied the Georgia code instead.
June 6, 2014
The status of a popular U.S. Supreme Court website as a publication credentialed to cover the Senate rests on a credentialing committee's opinion of the site's past and present ties to the site publisher's law firm. SCOTUSblog, a website devoted to comprehensive coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court, still awaits a decision from the U.S. Senate Press Gallery Standing Committee of Correspondents on whether it will receive Senate press credentials. In April, the committee rejected the application of SCOTUSblog editor and reporter Amy Howe and said it would not renew SCOTUSblog reporter Lyle Denniston’s credentials after questioning whether the site fits the gallery’s guidelines for editorial and financial independence.
June 5, 2014
The Delaware Supreme Court dismissed an appeal this week of an order requiring Al Jazeera to file an almost completely unredacted version of its complaint against AT&T from a 2013 contract dispute. Despite having both parties file briefs and deliver oral arguments, the high court threw out the appeal without explaining why.
June 5, 2014
After 30 minutes of public arguments, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit called a closed-door “secret hearing” on Wednesday in the U.S. government’s appeal of an Illinois district court decision to open certain surveillance records to defense attorneys with top security clearances. The three-judge panel ordered everyone without sufficient security clearance out of the courtroom, including reporters and the attorneys to defendant-appellee Adel Daoud. Daoud, who the government has suspected of terrorist activities, was charged with attempting to ignite a bomb at a Chicago bar in 2012. In the public part of the hearing, a U.S. attorney argued that disclosure of surveillance records could harm national security. Judge Richard Posner then ordered the secret meeting, clearing the courtroom of everyone except those with proper security clearance, namely a U.S. attorney and FBI and Department of Justice officials.
June 2, 2014
The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday it will not hear an appeal by New York Times reporter James Risen, who has been subpoenaed to testify in a government leaks prosecution. Risen could now face jail or fines if he refuses to testify. Joel Kurtzberg, Risen’s attorney, said the ball is now in the government’s court. Risen was never held in contempt because the trial court initially ruled that he was protected by the reporter’s privilege and did not have to testify. An appellate court later reversed, and that decision now stands. Therefore, the government will have to pursue Risen’s testimony again in trial court, Kurtzberg said. “If they say they are going to do that, we will make clear that [Risen] is not going to testify and then there would have to be a contempt hearing,” Kurtzberg said.
May 30, 2014
The Supreme Court of California this week upheld a lower court ruling requiring a police department to release the names of officers involved in on-duty shootings. In December 2010, Los Angeles Times reporter Richard Winton asked the Long Beach City Attorney‘s Office for the names of the two police officers who shot and killed a man in Los Angeles. The officers were responding to a resident’s tip about an intoxicated man carrying a six-shooter though the neighborhood. When they arrived on the scene, they found 35-year-old Douglas Zerby. According to the officers, Zerby held up an object resembling a gun and the two of them reacted by firing shots and killing him. When the officers approached his body, they could see that the object Zerby was holding was actually a garden hose with a pistol grip spray nozzle.
May 30, 2014
The District of Columbia's high court ruled Thursday that denials of anti-SLAPP motions to quash are immediately appealable, reversing a lower court order that would have forced Wikipedia to disclose data revealing the identity of an anonymous poster to the company’s site. The case started after Susan L. Burke, a prominent human-rights attorney, filed a lawsuit claiming several anonymous defendants conspired to defame her by making changes to a Wikipedia page devoted to her legal work. Burke requested Wikipedia’s user data in an attempt to uncover the posters’ true identities.
May 30, 2014
A New York appellate court unanimously upheld a decision protecting a writer of Barron’s, a financial publication run by Dow Jones & Company, against defamation by implication and adopted a new standard for determining when implied facts can be defamatory. Plaintiff Maxim A. Stepanov, founder of Midland Consult Ltd. and a former Russian diplomat, asserted that statements in Barron’s article, “Crime and Punishment in Putin’s Russia,” were defamatory by implication, meaning they did not directly state falsehoods but implied them. Stepanov argued that the article implied his company associated with shell companies, drug cartels and weapons dealers, while falsely implying he was a diplomat under Vladimir Putin when he only served under Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin.