Posts from November 2008.

The United States has a long-standing commitment to openness in all branches of government.  Among these principles is the presumption that judicial proceedings should be open for observation.  Despite this presumption, there is no absolute right of access to all judicial proceedings or judicial documents, and plaintiffs, defendants, and third parties (such as the reporters) occasionally disagree about what kinds of information should be available to the public.

Sometimes there is a question whether plaintiffs in civil lawsuits must identify themselves by their real names or ... Read More 

In a prior post, we reported upon the institution of legal actions in the midst of two high-profile U.S. Senate campaigns.  There were important developments in both matters yesterday.

As we reported, Kay Hagan instituted an action over a political ad run by North Carolina incumbent Elizabeth Dole.  Hagan, who ultimately won the race, filed a document in North Carolina state court contending that Dole's ad contained defamatory statements about her.  Yesterday, Hagan filed papers with the court dismissing her claim.

In Minnesota, incumbent Norm Coleman filed suit over a ... Read More 

Posted in Indecency

The United States Supreme Court heard oral argument in FCC v. Fox Broadcasting on Election Day 2008.  As authors of an amicus curiae brief in the case, three Brooks Pierce correspondents -- Mark Prak, David Kushner, and Julia Ambrose -- made an old-fashioned road trip to Washington to hear the argument.  In an ironic twist, our sojourn to the Nation’s capital was itself seasoned with some “fleeting” expletives, as we encountered unprecedented and extraordinarily frustrating Election Eve traffic that clogged ingress to the District for nearly an hour.  As our car inched across ... Read More 

A sheriff's deputy has arrived in your newsroom, with what you now are sure is a subpoena.  In fact, let’s be more specific.

You spent six months investigating an in-depth enterprise piece on the influx of undocumented workers in a neighboring county.  Your story follows one particular worker, whose identity you do not reveal, as he navigates his way through life, a life which includes using a false Social Security number and driving with no insurance.

Two weeks after the story appears, a deputy from that county's Sheriff's Department shows up at with a subpoena in hand ... Read More 

Not even two weeks after we highlighted the issue of defamation claims arising from political ads, those very claims are making headlines right now in two high-profile political races.

Just this week, two United States Senate candidates—Minnesota incumbent Norm Coleman and North Carolina challenger Kay Hagan—have instituted legal action against their political opponents over alleged defamation in political ads.

The subject of Coleman’s suit against challenger Al Franken is a political ad claiming that Coleman was “ranked the fourth most corrupt Senator ... Read More 


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