ESSAY - Con Law
- Rule: USSC requires public figures to show that a defendant reporter published with actual malice to recover in a defamation suit. (Public officials seeking to recover damages in a defamation action must prove the D reporter acted with actual malice.)
- Actual malice is knowledge or reckless disregard as to the falsity of the published defamatory statement.
- Negligence is insufficient.
- DEFINE PUBLIC FIGURE! A public figure is one who voluntarily assumes a role of prominence in society. One who thrusts himself into the forefront of a public controversy in order to influence it is considered a public figure. (Facts: BECAUSE Star is a famous actress, she is a public figure.) Since she is a public figure, she must show that News acted with actual malice in that they knew the women was not Star and published anyway, or that News acted with reckless disregard as to that fact.)
- Rule: There is no 1st A privilege giving the press immunity when in pursuit of a news story of public concern.
- Rule: The 1st A does not shield the press from liability arising under generally applicable laws not aimed at the suppression of free speech.
- Rule: Enforcement of generally applicable laws against the press is not subject to stricter scrutiny that would be applied to other persons.
- (My Rule: Press cannot invoke the 1st A Right to Free Speech to shield it from liability for violating laws not aimed at the suppression of speech.)
- [FP: Scoop's actions amounted to trespass under generally applicable law that does not single out the press for special treatment. Even when gathering and reporting the news, press is subject to tort law that applies to all members of society. Therefore, the 1st A is no shield to liability and hotel can recover damages for trespass.)
INVASION OF PRIVACY
- (FP: News is immune from liability for invading Lex's privacy b/c the published info was lawfully obtained and involves a matter of public concern.)
- RULE: 1st A shields media from liability when a media defendant lawfully obtains a private fact as long as the story is of public concern.
- In some jurisdicitons, this protection is incorporated directly into the tort rule and disclosure of private facts is not tortious if the facts are of public concern.
- (FP: Here, Scoops acted lawfully in obtaining the picture. He took it from a public vantage point. Since Lex was kissing the woman on a public street, it was not a private fact. A passerby easily could have observed it and therefore Lex had no reasonable expectation of privacy.)
- (FP: Moreover, the story is a matter of public concern b/c Lex is a public figure since he is a TV personality and thrust himself into a public debate. Since his actions contradict his public position against adultry it is relevant and a matter of public concern.)
- (Therefore, b/c the photo was newsworthy and lawfully obtained, News cannot be held liable for invasion of privacy.)