Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

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Friday, June 24, 2005

Seventh Circuit Decides Hosty: Finds Against Student Journalists

In a 7-4 decision, the majority opinion written by Judge Easterbrook, the 7th Circuit  has found in favor of appellant Patricia Carter and Governors State University, and against the student journalists who objected when, in 2001, Dean Carter told the student newspaper's printer to hold any issues she had not okayed in advance. The students objected that her actions violated their right to free speech and sued both her and the university.

With Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier as its starting point, the 7th Circuit first tried to establish whether the university had intended to establish a public forum. After much discussion of the question, the court finally summed up the issue thus: "Because the district court acted on a motion for summary judgment, it assumed (as do we) that plaintiffs' perspective is the correct one. On that understanding, the Board established the Innovator in a designated public forum, where the editors were empowered to make their own decisions, wise or foolish, without fear that the administration would stop the presses."

However, the court goes on to emphasize that Dean Carter may not have known that the newspaper "operated in such a forum" and if it were reasonable for her not to have known, then she could claim qualified immunity from personal liability from  her actions in shutting down the paper until she could examine its contents. "One might well say as a `broad general proposition' something like `public officials may not censor speech in a designated public forum,' but whether Dean Carter was bound to know that the Innovator operated in such a forum is a different question altogether. The district court held that any reasonable college administrator should have know that (a) the approach of Hazelwood does not apply to colleges; and (b) only speech that is part of the curriculum is subject to supervision. We have held that neither of these propositions is correct--that Hazelwood's framework is generally applicable and depends in large measure on the operation of public-forum analysis rather than the distinction between curricular and extra-curricular activities."

Read the decision here.

The students plan to appeal. Read their reactions here. Read other reactions here and and an Associated Press story here.

June 24, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

New York's Highest Court Decides Against Court TV in Cameras in the Courtroom Case

In 2001 Court TV filed a lawsuit against Robert Morgenthau, then DA of New York County and against the State of New York to test whether section 52 of the Civil Rights Law banning cameras in the courtroom was constitutional. In July of 2003 the lower court issued a ruling finding that "the Court declines to establish a constitutional rule in New York granting the media a right to televise court proceedings. The record in consistent with the traditional approach of New York courts to public access questions...The record also is consistent with New York's statutory scheme which guarantees public trials, but gives primacy to fair trial rights. Moreover, to the extent any chamges to the statutory scheme have been put into experimental use, these were intitiated and reviewed by the Legislature."

Court TV argued to the New York State Court of Appeals that the First Amendment gives the press and the public "a right of access to trial proceedings" and that cameras are a commonplace extension of this right. The appellate court rejected this argument, as it also rejected the network's constitutional argument based on the New York state constitution. In both cases, the appellate court found that the press's right to attend trials is no greater than that of the general public. Should the legislature choose to extend coverage of trials via cameras, said the court, it certainly has that power.

Read a News Media Update piece here.

Read the decision of the court here.

June 24, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

New Media Law Related Material Out on DVD, Video

Some new DVDs and videos out for leisurely summer viewing include the re-release of Otto Preminger's classic film noir Laura. Based on the Vera Caspary novel, this atmospheric tale takes us into previously uncharted territory. What happens when the man responsible for investigating a crime falls in love with the victim (Gene Tierney)? When the victim thought to be dead turns up alive? When she is then suspected of the crime? When the newspaper critic in love with her plans to use his column to turn public opinion against the prosecutor and the police in order to secure her acquittal, in the way he has previously used public opinion against her lovers, men he thought were his rivals? The film raises some background questions about the power of the press, but its focus is always on Laura and the men in her life, manly Detective McPherson (Dana Andrews), urbane Shelby Carpenter (Vincent Price), and weird Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb). The DVD offers two priceless extras: wonderful biographies of the beautiful and tragic Gene Tierney and of the cultured Vincent Price, whom many moviegoers have tended to underestimate, both as an actor and as an art critic and writer. The DVD also includes extended commentary by composer David Raksin and film critic Jeanne Basinger, and an extended version of the film that includes a previously omitted scene. List price is $14.98.

James Carville, Mary Matalin, and colleagues made 10 episodes of the improvisational K Street that aired on HBO; the complete series is now available on DVD for a list price of $24.98. This truly odd experiment in television directed by Steven Soderbergh features a look at the workings of lobbyists in their natural habitat brought to you by people who should know. At times the folks who made the story became the story, as when then Presidential candidate Howard Dean uses a line James Carville gives him during an episode for an actual debate. Pay some attention to the people behind the curtain and enjoy this little adventure.

June 23, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

BBC Journalists Get New Ethics Code

Owen Gibson reports in The Media Guardian that BBC reporters will soon be subject to a newly updated ethics code, which will emphasize "accuracy over speed". Other changes will include a time delay for live feeds. Read his story here. When I locate the new code, I'll post it for perusal.

June 23, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

US News Rankings Are Out for 2006

The U. S. News & World Report rankings for "America's Best Graduate Schools 2006" are out. See a listing of the schools with limited info on each here. More information is available for a payment of $14.95.

June 22, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

UK, US Law Different with Respect to Juror Speech

The  Media Guardian features an interesting essay on the differences between US and UK law on reports on jury deliberations after the trial is completed and the jury has rendered its verdict. Check out the column by Michael Evans and John Borger here.

June 21, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tax Analysts Loses Case Before DC Court of Appeals

Tax mavens have already come across the case of Tax Analysts v. Internal Revenue Service and Christian Broadcasting Network, which has wandered up and down the halls of the courts for some seven years. Tax Analysts had wanted access to the "CBN-IRS closing agreement regarding taxes due for previous taxable years" during some of which "CBN allegedly engaged in political activities in support of presidential candidate and CBN founder Pat Robertson. The IRS audited CBN regarding CBN's past and continued eligibility for tax-exempt status." Tax Analysts filed a FOIA request in order to obtain the document in 1998. "Citing FOIA exemption 3..., the Service declined to disclose any of the requested information except for the February 1998 form 1023 filing and the March 1998 determination letter. On July 20, 1998, TA sent a letter to CBN requesting the same information. CBN, like the IRS, declined to produce any document except for the Form 1023 and the determination letter. Shortly thereafter, TA filed this action...."

After examining TA's arguments against the district court's dismissal of its suit, the appellate court upheld the dismissal. For more, see Paul Caron's discussion on TaxProf Blog here. Read the case here. 

June 21, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 20, 2005

Commodity Futures Trading Corp. Wants Data from McGraw-Hill

The Commodity Futures Trading Corporation has asked the U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia to enforce a subpoena against Platts, a McGraw-Hill company which publishes Inside F.E.R.C., for "energy- related documents it served on McGraw-Hill in April 2005. As alleged in the application papers, the CFTC subpoenaed McGraw-Hill for documents to be produced by April 28, 2005, but McGraw-Hill refused to produce certain categories of responsive documents. The subpoena was issued as part of the CFTC’s ongoing energy investigations." Read the Application for an Order to Show Cause Here. The company being investigated, which CFTC has not named, says it did not keep the data. McGraw-Hill is currently resisting divulging the information.

Read the AP story here. Read the CFTC's Memorandum of Points and Authorities here.

June 20, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)