Tuesday, February 27, 2007

First Amendment Lets Search Sites Reject Ads

From CNET's Yahoo Blog:
"A federal court has ruled that search engines have a First Amendment right to reject ads as part of their protected right to speak or not speak. The U.S. District Court in Delaware has effectively shut down a lawsuit filed by Christopher Langdon, who had attempted unsuccessfully to sell ads on Google, Yahoo and Microsoft's search Web sites.

"Langdon has several Web sites that purport to expose fraud among North Carolina state officials and to discuss atrocities committed by the Chinese government, according to the court filings. Allegedly, Google rejected Langdon's ads because they attacked individuals, MSN ignored the request and Yahoo denied the request saying it only takes ads from sites it hosts. So Langdon sued them on claims of fraud."
Read the full decision.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Podcast: Libby Trial and Freedom of the Press

The First Amendment and freedom of the press are front and center in the trial of Scooter Libby. This week on the legal affairs podcast Lawyer2Lawyer (formerly Coast to Coast), we discuss the trial, shield laws and judicial attitutes towards free speech and a free press. My cohost J. Craig Williams and I welcome guests Ed Carter, a lawyer and assistant professor of communications at Brigham Young University who recently completed a study of Supreme Court free speech rulings, and Mark Obbie, director of the Carnegie Legal Reporting Program at the Newhouse School.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

SJC hears appeal in judge's libel case

From Associated Press via the Worcester Telegram & Gazette:
"The Boston Herald on Thursday asked the state's highest court to toss out a $2.1 million verdict won by a Superior Court judge who said the newspaper libeled him by reporting he made insensitive comments about a 14-year-old rape victim.

"In February 2005, a jury found the newspaper had libeled Judge Ernest Murphy in a series of articles. Murphy maintained a Herald reporter misquoted him as telling lawyers involved in a case about the rape victim: 'Tell her to get over it.' Murphy denied ever making the statement.

"An attorney for the Herald and its reporter, David Wedge, said Thursday that Wedge did everything he could to ensure the stories were accurate, including twice trying to get comment from the judge himself. The attorney, Bruce Sanford, said Wedge had several sources who attributed the comment to Murphy."
The video of the oral argument will be posted here.

Worcester Magazine on open meetings

In the cover story in the current issue of Worcester Magazine, Behind Closed Doors: How Politicians Work Around the Public's Right to Know, writer Scott Zoback does a great job of laying out politicians' increasing disregard of the state's open meeting law. He writes:
"While the days of making political decisions with a suitcase of cash and a pack of Cubans in the back of a bar may be behind us, the truth is that a large number of the decisions, negotiations and conversations that move forward political agendas in Central Massachusetts are done in private, behind closed doors."
I was among those interviewed for the article and Zoback talks about the open meeting reform bill filed by the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association, of which I am executive director.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

SJC hears arguments in access case

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court heard arguments Monday in Eagle-Tribune Publishing Company v. Abascal, a case involving media access to clerk-magistrate hearings in the state District Court. Streaming video of the oral argument is available at this link. (I filed an amicus brief in this case on behalf of the Mass. Newspaper Publishers Association.)