Posts from March 2009.
Posted in Internet

As we discussed earlier, courts across the country are now dealing with the question of how state shield laws apply to anonymous commentary on newspaper web sites.  Mirroring these cases is a series of cases approaching the issue from the perspective of the people doing the commenting.  More specifically, courts are addressing the question of whether anonymous commenters on web sites have a First Amendment right to remain anonymous and, if so, whether the web site hosts have standing to raise those First Amendment rights in countering efforts to compel the hosts to disclose the ... Read More 

The Arkansas Supreme Court held last week in a unanimous decision that the fair report privilege protected reporters from The Courier newspaper who had reported allegations about a rape investigation based on the contents of a police report.

The decision arose out of a defamation claim against the paper made by Kevin Whiteside, who was named in the police report of a rape investigation in December 2006.  The report said that a witness at a party hosted by Whiteside saw Whiteside with the alleged rape victim.  In January 2007, The Courier published a story about the allegations based on the ... Read More 

A reporter’s or newsroom's best bet to quash an otherwise valid subpoena to appear in a state proceeding is a state shield statute (such as North Carolina).  If, however, the subpoena was issued at the federal law, such as from a United States Attorney or a fed era grand jury, or if you are in a state that lacks a shield statute (such as Texas), then your only choice is to rely on the muddled outcome of a thirty-six-year-old United Supreme Court precedent.  Despite its age, the value of this case to reporters remains uncertain.

In Branzburg v. Hayes, the Court held 5-4 that reporters ... Read More 


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