Friday, August 3, 2007
Venezuelan Supreme Court Suspends Government Order With Regard to Private Cable Channel Registration
The Supreme Court of Venezuela has backed the independence of privately owned station Radio Caracas Television and other similarly situated media, suspending the government's order that they register as "national producers". If the order had gone into effect, Venezuela's President, Hugo Chavez, would have been able to demand air time from the broadcasters to carry his speeches. Radio Caracas TV had originally been forced off the airwaves and had taken to cable to avoid government interference. Read more here.
NBC and Telemundo have suspended journalist Mirthala Salinas, the woman involved with married Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Ms. Salinas continued to report on Mr. Villaraigosa's domestic situation during the period that she was having the affair with him, behavior that the network and the station have determined violated ethical guidelines. According to statements Ms. Salinas has made previously, some members of the station's management seem to have known of her relationship with Mr. Villaraigosa. Read more here.
Even though the information is publicly available, Valerie Plame can't reveal how long she worked for the CIA, according to a judge. U. S. District Court Judge Barbara Jones accepted the agency's argument that if Ms. Plame were to do so, it would "harm national security." The argument, contained in a "classified court filing," according to a New York Times article, is secret.
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Maciej Murakowski, a University of Delaware student, has filed a lawsuit against the University, claiming that it violated his free speech rights when it suspended him for creating and maintaining a website on university servers which it concluded provided “racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic” materials. Although a psychiatrist concluded that Mr. Murakowski was not a threat, the university still banned him from the campus. According to University officials, Mr. Murakowski may now apply for readmission, but may not enter any residence halls if he is re-admitted. The University concedes it is worried about campus security in the wake of the Virginia Tech situation. Read more in an AP story. The Chronicle of Higher Education has also blogged this story.
An appellate court has lifted a gag order, imposed by a lower court, which prevented the British press from printing information about a meeting between then Prime Minister Tony Blair and President George W. Bush on April 16, 2004, during which President Bush apparently floated a suggestion about bombing the television station al-Jazeera as well as other issues concerning the Iraq war. Two men, David Keogh and Leo O'Connor, are on trial under the Official Secrets Act for their involvement in leaking the contents of the memo that contained that information to the media. Much of the information had already been made public; nevertheless, the trial judge imposed the gag order. However, a number of influential media challenged it, and this week the appellate court ruled that the order was too broad. However, the court did caution the press concerning the manner in which it characterized the defendants' allegations. Read more here in a Media Guardian story.
Thames Valley Police (the very same force dramatized in the series Morse) have identified and cautioned the man captured on tape last week pinching reporter Sue Turton of Channel 4 News. Rufus Burdett could have been fined 80 pounds. He told police he was drunk at the time and simply wanted to "brighten up the situation" after the flooding in the area. Read more here in a Times of London story.
A judge refused to reconsider the dismissal of Mr. Lott's lawsuit but gave a thumbs up to the settlement the two parties have worked out in Mr. Lott's defamation suit against Mr. Levitt. Read more here in a post from the Chronicle of Higher Education's News Blog.
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Judge Jed S. Kaplan has awarded fees of $350,000, three times what a jury awarded, to Antidote Films, the production that purchased the rights to the book Sarah from "J.T. Leroy," later revealed to be writer Laura Albert. Albert lost a fraud case to Antidote earlier this year. Antidote claimed that it was deceived into thinking that Leroy was a real person and thus that it bargained for something other than what it actually received. Read more in an AP story here.
A male passer-by pinched Sue Turton, a reporter for Channel 4 News, while she was doing a standup last week on the flooding in Oxford. Police have requested tape of the incident, saying they intend to try to track down the man and impose the appropriate sanction. While journalist Turton says she doesn't want to pursue the matter, she does have concerns about how women in the workplace are treated, noting, "Male reporters would never be treated to a public goosing. Should the women of my profession not expect the same respect?" Read more here.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Taner Akcam, Professor of History, and associated with the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota, has asked the European Court of Human Rights to declare Article 301 of Turkey's penal code a violation of of human rights law under the European Convention on Human Rights. Mr. Akcam, along with other prominent scholars, has been targeted under the statute. Here's more from the International Freedom of Information Exchange. Read a blogpost from the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Monday, July 30, 2007
The 10th Circuit has vacated with instructions to dismiss a lawsuit brought by two former student editors at the Collegian, the paper published at Kansas State University. The editors had sued after the University dismissed the faculty advisor. Said the court,
We have previously held that “when an individual graduates from school
there no longer exists a live controversy necessary to support an action to
participate in interscholastic activity.”...Here, too, Lane and Rice have graduated, and no longer serve on the board of the Collegian. Because defendants can no longer impinge upon plaintiffs’ exercise of freedom of the press, plaintiffs’ claims for declaratory and injunctive
relief are moot. An exception to the mootness doctrine exists for cases that are “capable of
repetition, yet evading review.” Murphy v. Hunt, 455 U.S. 478, 482 (1982)
(quotations omitted). But this exception applies only when: “(1) the challenged
action was in its duration too short to be fully litigated prior to its cessation or
expiration, and (2) there [i]s a reasonable expectation that the same complaining
party w[ill] be subjected to the same action again.” Id. (quoting Weinstein v.
Bradford, 423 U.S. 147, 149 (1975) (per curiam)); see also Seminole Nation, 321
F.3d at 943. Although Lane and Rice’s claims as student editors arguably meet the first prong of this test, they fail to satisfy the second prong. Because only
KSU students serve as editors of the Collegian, there is no reasonable expectation
that Lane and Rice will be subjected, post-graduation, to censorship by defendants
in connection with that newspaper. See id. Thus, we can carve out no exception
to the mootness doctrine for their claims. Plaintiffs have not formally sued in a representative capacity, and there has been no effort on anyone’s part to substitute current editors as parties. Student Publications, Inc., the non-profit corporate publisher, was neither named initially as a party nor has it sought to join this litigation. Amici urge us to confer thirdparty
standing to plaintiffs on behalf of current and future Collegian editors.
Given that Johnson did not appeal, and neither the publisher nor the present
editors have joined this litigation, we cannot countenance this type of end-run
around the general requirement that parties raise their own claims.
Read the entire opinion here.
Meanwhile, the Independent paid damages to the Evening Standard's editor Veronica Wadley and her husband, writer Tom Bower (author of that biography of Conrad Black, Conrad and Lady Black: Dancing on the Edge), for hinting that the Wadley-Bower relationship raised "similar issues" as those in the Black marriage, including making the statement that the Evening Standard paid Mr. Bower's expenses while he covered the Conrad Black trial, recently concluded in Chicago. The Independent apologized for the allegations twenty-four hours later. Read more here.
A Scotland Yard employee with more than thirty years at that famous institution will serve eight months behind bars for leaking information about a planned al-Qaida attack to the Sunday Times. He could have received a life sentence. Thomas Lund-Lack blamed annoyance with work conditions and stress for his lapse in judgment. Read more here in a Media Guardian article.
House of Lords Affirms Daily Mirror Journalist's Right to Keep Source Confidential After Eight Year Battle
The House of Lords has denied the Mersey Care NHS Trust's request to appeal a lower court's ruling that it cannot obtain the name of a source on which Daily Mirror reporter Robin Ackroyd relied when writing a 1999 story about convicted "Moors Murderer" Ian Brady. Both the lower court and the Court of Appeal found that "no pressing social need" existed to require Mr. Ackroyd to reveal the name of the source. Here's a link to the lower court ruling; here's a link to the appellate court decision.