NEWS MEDIA UPDATE · FLORIDA · Prior Restraints · Feb. 8, 2007
Judge refuses to lift prior restraint on TV station
Feb. 8, 2007 · A judge refused today to dissolve the a temporary court order prohibiting an Orlando, Fla., television station from broadcasting the content of 80 boxes of documents formerly belonging to a controversial political consultant.
Representatives of the television station say the order is an unconstitutional prior restraint on the press. Henry Maldonado, vice president and general manager of WKMG-TV, said the station is filing an emergency appeal in a state appeals court in Daytona Beach, Fla., to get the order thrown out.
On Friday, Orange County Circuit Judge Rom Powell approved a temporary court injunction preventing WKMG-TV from broadcasting content from the documents, which the station obtained from a man who purchased them for $10 at a public auction, according to WKMG-TV reporter Tony Pipitone.
The auction was held after consultant Doug Guetzloe did not pay rent for the storage unit where the documents were being kept.
Guetzloe has said the storage company failed to debit his bank account, according to news reports, and sought the prior restraint because he said some of the documents contain medical records and correspondence with his attorney.
The television station argued this week to have the court order dissolved. Today, Powell issued a press release stating he was denying the television station’s motion to dissolve the injunction.
The press release said Powell granted the station’s motion to reconsider, “but only to the extent that the injunction will be modified to balance” the television station’s “constitutional right of free press” with Guetzloe’s “constitutional right to privacy.”
Until then, WKMG-TV will not be allowed to broadcast a series reporting information uncovered in the documents that has been ready to air for two weeks.
Maldonado said the station researched the procedure the citizen used to obtain the documents and maintains that “the documents were obtained totally legally on our end.”
He is optimistic that WKMG-TV will be able to broadcast soon.
Carol LoCicero, a Tampa media law attorney, said the order presented constitutional concerns.
“It’s always a concern when you prohibit the press from using information that was lawfully obtained,” she said.
(Guetzloe v. Post-Newsweek Stations Orlando, Inc., Media Counsel: Jack Kirschenbaum, GrayRobinson, P.A., Orlando, Fla.) — MA