SCOTUSblog press-pass hearing raises questions about Senate credentialing process

Danielle Keeton-Olsen | Newsgathering | News | June 6, 2014
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.

Ninth Circuit: Bloggers, public have same defamation protections as 'institutional press' on matters of public concern

Cindy Gierhart | Libel | News | January 17, 2014
January 17, 2014

The Ninth Circuit ruled today in Obsidian Finance Group v. Cox that bloggers -- and other members of the public -- are governed by the same decades-old defamation jurisprudence as the "institutional press” when speaking about matters of public concern.

Crystal Cox wrote blog posts alleging a bankruptcy trustee and his company committed fraud, corruption, and money-laundering. The trustee, Kevin Padrick, and company, Obsidian Finance Group, sued for defamation.

One question before the court was whether the New York Times v. Sullivan and Gertz v. Robert Welch line of cases applied to Cox, as a blogger, or whether the rules set forth under those cases only applied to the “institutional press.”

New York appellate court allows blogger to remain anonymous, dismisses defamation claim

Cindy Gierhart | Libel | News | January 8, 2014
January 8, 2014

A New York appellate court ruled that a blogger may remain anonymous, thereby preventing a political candidate from bringing a defamation suit against him or her.

The blogger, known as “Q-Tip,” wrote an article titled “Would You Buy A Used Car From These Men?,” which said the candidates “think you aren’t smart enough to see past the lies and downright criminal actions taken by their backers, the Croton Republican Committee.”

The court held on Dec. 26 that a reasonable reader, given the context of the blog and the contentious election, would conclude these statements reflected the blogger’s opinion, not fact.

New Jersey blogger considered a journalist under state Shield Law

Lilly Chapa | Reporter's Privilege | News | April 16, 2013
April 16, 2013

A New Jersey blogger qualifies for protection under the state’s shield law and does not have to reveal the names of government officials she accused of wrongdoing, a judge ruled.

Lower court should have protected blogger's identity, Mich. appeals court rules

Lilly Chapa | Privacy | News | April 11, 2013
April 11, 2013

The identity of an anonymous blogger sued for defamation does not have to be disclosed, according to the Michigan Court of Appeals.

The appeals court ruled last week that a lower court erred when it refused to protect the anonymous identity of the blogger known only as “Rockstar05.” The trial judge incorrectly applied law from outside the state when it should have used Michigan law addressing anonymous online commenters, the appeals court stated.

N.J. judge orders local blogger to defend journalist status

Lilly Chapa | Reporter's Privilege | News | February 4, 2013
February 4, 2013

A New Jersey Superior Court judge recently ordered a blogger to defend her status as a journalist and explain why the state's shield law applies to her in order to avoid revealing the names of government officials she accused of wrongdoing.

Businessman can pursue defamation suit without showing proof of monetary loss, N.Y. appeals court rules

Lilly Chapa | Libel | News | December 14, 2012
December 14, 2012

A man accused of throwing a severed horse head in a local politician's pool does not have to prove monetary loss to pursue a defamation lawsuit against his online accusers, an appellate court in New York ruled.

Calif. appellate court affirms dismissal of libel suit against Gawker under state's anti-SLAPP law

Jack Komperda | Libel | News | August 15, 2012
August 15, 2012

A California appellate court upheld the dismissal of a libel suit brought by the head of a small startup tech company against the Internet blogging company Gawker Media.

Judge orders blogger to take down information about woman accused in hit-and-run case

Emily Miller | Prior Restraints | News | July 5, 2012
July 5, 2012

A Massachusetts district judge ordered a blogger to remove from his website all references to a woman who faced criminal charges related to a car accident that seriously injured a pedestrian. A hearing Monday will bring into question the constitutionality of the order, which some argue violates the First Amendment.

New Jersey judge rejects blogger's newest assertion of statutory privilege

Emily Miller | Newsgathering | News | June 7, 2012
June 7, 2012

A New Jersey judge ruled once again that a blogger is not protected under the state's shield law, rejecting her latest claim that she was writing a nonfiction book.

The state Supreme Court ruled last year that Washington private investigator Shellee Hale could not assert the shield law in a 2008 defamation suit against her and remanded the case to the trial court.