Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Eleventh Circuit Rules in Favor of Key West Newspaper

The Eleventh Circuit has ruled in favor of Key West publisher Dennis Reeves Cooper, allowing his suit against the city and a police officer to proceed. Cooper had published several articles charging, among other things, that officer Robert Christensen had failed to investigate allegations of perjury against another member of the force. Christensen then sought to arrest Cooper under a Florida law that prohibits leaking information about an ongoing investigation. A federal district court judge dismissed Cooper's lawsuit and Cooper appealed. The Eleventh Circuit held that "the statute is content-based because the purpose of the statute is to stifle speech of a particular content, namely speech regarding pending investigations of law enforcement officers....While the district court focused on the fact that the statute only proscribed the dissemination of information on the basis of how it was obtained (i.e. pursuant to an investigation), it failed to analyze the statute's "purpose" to determine whether it was content-based vel non...." Read the Eleventh Circuit's decision here.

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