Apr 27, 2016

Alabama Continues Quixotic Quest

As reported by the Decatur Daily, a bill to revive Alabama's criminal defamation law has passed the state Senate after it was amended to clarify that criminal libel could not be used against statements regarding elected officials or candidates for elected office.

Apr 25, 2016

Quoted by the AP. And Herman Cain.

I've been quoted by the Associated Press in a story about a bill pending in California that would allows judges to fine jurors who use social media or the internet improperly during trials. And 2012 presidential candidate Herman Cain pulled my quote from the AP for his daily news update (halfway down the page).

Apr 22, 2016

Hail, Columbia!

I am pleased to announce that in the fall I will be joining the faculty at the University of South Carolina's School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where I will be teaching media law.

Apr 18, 2016

Alabama Bills Would Revive Criminal Libel Law

Two bills (HB529 and SB404) prefiled in the Alabama legislature before the start of its current regular session would revive the state's criminal defamation statute, 15 years after the Alabama Supreme Court held that law unconstitutional.

Apr 14, 2016

Strengthened "Right to Be Forgotten" Is Now Permanent in E.U., and Will Likely Affect U.S.

Passage of a new General Data Protection Regulation by the Parliament of the European Union means that "the right to be forgotten," created in a 2014 decision by the European Court of Justice, is now a permanent part of EU law. And the new regulation includes specific language to apply to any website in the world that includes or handles data from EU residents, including those based in the United States.

Apr 8, 2016

Courts' Cell Phone Ban Gets Worse for the Non-Elite

In 2012 I wrote about state courthouses in Cook County, Illinois (metro Chicago) selectively banning cell phones from their facilities. Now the court administrators have made a bad situation worse by removing the lockers that allowed court visitors to store their phones while in the building.

Mar 20, 2016

Fed Courts Find Few Harms From Cameras, Ban Them Anyway

An evaluation (which, tellingly, is not online) of the federal courts' recently concluded test of allowing cameras to record some proceedings in selected courtrooms found that a majority of judges and lawyers surveyed agreed that the positive impact of the cameras outweighed the negative, according to Law 360 (sub. req'd).

But the Federal Judicial Center, which sets policy for the federal courts, still announced Tuesday (Mar. 16) that it would not recommend any changes to the general policy that still and video cameras are banned from most federal courtrooms.

Feb 26, 2016

Trump and Libel: More of the Same

Presidential candidate Donald Trump's latest policy pronouncement is that if he is elected he will "open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money."

Trump's statement has already gotten a fair amount of reaction (or maybe it's just that I'm well plugged in to the media law cognoscenti). But his statement of what he thinks the law should be is actually a statement of what the law currently is

Feb 16, 2016

New York Bar Association Committee Calls for Jury Instruction Improvements for Digital Age

In my 2011 study of state and federal courts' jury instructions regarding the internet and social media, I observed that New York State's civil and criminal pattern jury instructions were among the most advanced in how they dealt with the issue. Not only do New York's instructions admonish jurors not to use these resources to research or communicate about the cases they are hearing, but the instructions also mention specific sites and warn of the possible consequences if the instruction is disobeyed.

Now the New York State Bar Association's Commercial and Federal Litigation section is calling for updating and strengthening the instructions.