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Supreme Court will not hear Internet jurisdiction appeal

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  1. Libel and Privacy

    NMU         WASHINGTON, D.C.         Libel    

Supreme Court will not hear Internet jurisdiction appeal

  • A federal court of appeals ruling in favor of two Connecticut newspapers who were sued in Virginia will stand.

May 22, 2003 — The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to consider an appeal in a case that denied a defamation plaintiff jurisdiction over two newspapers that allegedly posted defamatory statements on their Web sites.

The Court’s refusal to grant review in the case lets stand a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond (4th Cir.), which held on Dec. 13, 2002 that a Virginia prison warden could not bring a libel suit in Virginia over articles that appeared on the Web sites of The Hartford Courant and the New Haven Advocate, both located in Connecticut.

In the case, Young v. New Haven Advocate, the warden claimed the newspapers had defamed him in stories about Connecticut’s practice of sending its overflow of inmates to Virginia prisons, by implying that the warden was racist and abusive.

By denying the warden’s request for review, the Supreme Court passed on a chance to set a standard in this country for when courts have jurisdiction over libel cases involving the Internet.

The issue has been litigated in a number of courts recently. On Dec. 31, in Revell v. Lidov, the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans (5th Cir.) held that a former FBI official could not bring a libel suit in Texas over an article posted on a Web site operated by Columbia University.

In the only case decided on the topic in a country’s court of highest appeal, the High Court of Australia held Dec.10 that the Wall Street Journal and Barron’s could be sued in Australia over an article that was written in the United States and distributed on the Internet.

(Young v. New Haven Advocate; Media counsel: Robert D. Lystad, Baker & Hostetler, LLP, Washington, D.C.) WT

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© 2003 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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