Skip to comments.Appeals court rules blogger, press get same protections
Posted on 01/18/2014 11:43:06 AM PST by Da Bilge Troll
A federal appellate court ruled Friday that the author of a blog post deserves the same treatment in a defamation case as "institutional media."
The three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held unanimously that there is no difference between a journalist for a media outlet and another speaker when it comes to First Amendment protections.
The case stems from a series of blog posts published in 2010 by a woman accusing a financial advice firm of fraud and corruption. One of the firm's principals was appointed as the bankruptcy trustee to a company that had misappropriated client funds, and the woman, Crystal Cox, accused him and his company, Obsidian Finance Group, of impropriety in advising the bankrupt firm in a series of online posts.
They sued Cox for defamation. The district court ruled that because Cox did not prove her status as a journalist, Obsidian did not need to prove malice or negligence on her part to win the case.
A jury found against Cox and ordered her to pay $2.5 million.
On Friday, Judge Andrew Hurwitz wrote for the unanimous court that, especially in the age of the Internet, the distinction between traditional journalist and other speakers doesn't matter in this case (opinion here).
"The protections of the First Amendment do not turn on whether the defendant was a trained journalist, formally affiliated with traditional news entities, engaged in conflict-of-interest disclosure, went beyond just assembling others writings, or tried to get both sides of a story. As the Supreme Court has accurately warned, a First Amendment distinction between the institutional press and other speakers is unworkable," Hurwitz wrote.
The subject of Cox's blog posts were a matter of public concern, the court held, so in order to prove defamation, the plaintiffs would have to show she acted with negligence or malice in making false statements against them.
The court ordered a new trial.
The Ninth Circus gets one right?????? Well... a broken clock and all that...
They finally screwed up and got something right.
“Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;
or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,
and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
“The press” is not a group of news reporters in some elite status.
“Freedom of speech or of the press”
refers to the spoken word and the written word.
I’m sure Dianne Feinstein will get apoplectic over this decision by the Ninth Circus!
Freedom for the Press as an Industry, or for the Press as a Technology? From the Framing to Today, 160 U. Pa. L. Rev. 459 (2012)
Is that like where the men learn to put the seat down and the women learn how to check for runs in their stockings?