Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Media law news round-up

  • In Atlanta, a federal judge has issued what AP calls a split decision in a dispute between the city and three major newspapers over fees the city-run airport charges for news racks. The case involves a 1996 city policy removing all news racks at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and requiring publishers to lease city-owned boxes.

  • The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, USA TODAY and The New York Times sued on First Amendment grounds. A federal judge issued an injunction blocking the policy, but an appeals court overturned a part of that decision and remanded the case to the lower court. In a ruling Dec. 2, U.S. District Judge Richard W. Story ordered the three newspapers to pay the city nearly $350,000 in back rent and interest for news racks. However, he also ordered the city to pay the three newspapers $1.35 million in attorneys’ fees and expenses.

  • Near Denver, an Army appeals court stopped the investigative hearing into three soldiers charged with murdering an Iraqi general until the judges can determine whether The Denver Post's request to open the hearing is valid.

  • The newspaper last Friday filed a motion to stop the Article 32 hearing into the death of Maj. Gen. Abed Mowhoush at the Qaim detention facility last year. Steven Zansberg, an attorney for The Post, said the appellate court's halting of the proceedings - and previous military court cases - makes this an important ruling.

  • In Virginia, a libel lawsuit brought by Steven Hatfill against The New York Times and columnist Nicholas Kristof concerning the 2001 anthrax attacks was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton. The judge ruled that Kristof's columns, in which Hatfill was referred to as "a person of interest" in the investigation by Attorney General John Ashcroft, did not defame him, the Associated Press reported.

  • "It is evident that the Op-Ed pieces highlighting the perceived shortcomings of the FBI are not reasonably read as accusing Hatfill of actually being the anthrax mailer," Hilton wrote. "The principle that an accurate report of ongoing investigation or an allegation of wrongdoing does not carry the implication of guilt has long been recognized . . . and it is mandated by the First Amendment."

    No comments: