AAN News

Leahy/Cornyn Bill Would Help ID FOIA's 'Hidden Exemptions'new

The Freedom of Information Act lists eight broad exemption categories covering specific areas, and has one item, Section b(3), which says that information can be exempted from disclosure by other statutes without mentioning FOIA at all. New legislation introduced last week by Sens. Patrick Leahy and John Cornyn would require any new b(3) exemptions to specifically reference FOIA, so they'd be easier to spot.
Columbia Journalism Review  |  03-23-2009  10:25 am  |  Legal News

Court Allows Dentist To Sue Writer Of Bad Yelp Reviewnew

Online Media Daily  |  03-23-2009  10:15 am  |  Legal News

Obama Administration Set to Release FOIA Reform Memonew

Attorney General Eric Holder has approved new guidelines, expected to be released today, fleshing out President Obama's Jan. 21 order to reveal more government records under FOIA. The new standard essentially returns to what was in place under the Clinton administration, in which federal agencies are told to release records to the public unless foreseeable harm would result. It would replace the Bush administration policy of presumptive nondisclosure. MORE: Read the Sunshine in Government Initiative statement on the changes.
The Associated Press  |  03-19-2009  2:08 pm  |  Legal News

Pilot Demands Alt-Weekly's Notes in Suit Against Whistleblowersnew

Last month, Phoenix New Times reported on three flight attendants facing a lawsuit from a US Airways pilot for daring to report their safety concerns to federal regulators. "Now New Times is getting sucked into the litigation," the paper reports. "[The pilot's attorney] filed a subpoena last week demanding that we turn over all our notes, as well as any documents provided to us by the flight attendants." New Times reports that the attorney is also attempting to subpoena information about people who've posted messages on a fund-raising website erected by the flight attendants.
Phoenix New Times  |  02-18-2009  10:50 am  |  Legal News

Judge Orders Web Publisher to Reveal Users' ID Informationnew

A judge in Texas has ordered the site Topix to reveal identifying information about 178 anonymous commenters who allegedly defamed Mark and Rhonda Lesher. The couple was indicted and later acquitted for sexual assault, but in the nine months that the criminal case was pending, people posted more than 25,000 comments to Topix message boards about the charges, some of which were defamatory, according to the 365-page lawsuit.
Online Media Daily  |  02-12-2009  1:04 pm  |  Legal News

Daily Paper Drops Defamation Suit Against Alt-Weekly Columnistnew

The Tulsa World has dropped its suit against Urban Tulsa Weekly columnist Michael Bates after he issued an apology and retraction of his claims that the World had concealed circulation declines and inflated its circulation audits. "My research was flawed and information in my story was false and inaccurate, and I retract those incorrect statements," Bates says in a letter. "I apologize to the Tulsa World and the Urban Tulsa Weekly." The suit had originally named the alt-weekly and its editor/publisher as well, but they were both dropped a few weeks ago.
Tulsa World  |  02-12-2009  9:02 am  |  Legal News

Attorney Sues Willamette Week for Defamationnew

Portland attorney Robert L. Wolf's case boils down to this: Yes, I had sex with a 16-year-old girl, but she wasn't brain damaged. According to The Oregonian, Wolf claims that Willamette Week published stories about his 1988 incident with a minor that "falsely referred to the girl as 'brain damaged.'" Wolf says he demanded a retraction and editor Mark Zusman agreed in 1996 to eliminate references to brain damage in WW's subsequent coverage of the case, but that in March 2004, the paper published a story reporting that the girl had suffered "neurological damage." Wolf is asking for up to $58 million for alleged defamation, false light, breach of contract, fraud and intentional infliction of severe emotional distress. The Oregonian notes that "(t)he statute of limitations may have run out on some of those claims, because the article was published nearly five years ago."
The Oregonian  |  02-10-2009  12:08 pm  |  Legal News

Tulsa Daily Drops Alt-Weekly From Libel Lawsuitnew

The Tulsa World agreed yesterday to drop Urban Tulsa Weekly and its editor and publisher Keith Skrzypczak from a libel suit filed last week against the publication and columnist Michael Bates, who remains the lone defendant in the suit. Executives from the World say the Weekly acknowledged it had published incorrect information about the daily newspaper's circulation in Bates' column. "We now understand the legitimate concerns of the Tulsa World and appreciate the chance to sit down with its representatives, review their information and correct the record," Skrzypczak says in a letter to readers.
The Tulsa World  |  01-21-2009  9:50 am  |  Legal News

Tulsa's Daily Sues the City's Alt-Weeklynew

The Tulsa World sued AAN member Urban Tulsa Weekly and columnist Michael Bates for libel yesterday, citing what it says was Bates' false claim that the World misled advertisers about the newspaper's circulation. In a Jan. 15 column, Bates alleged that a 2006 report by the Audit Bureau of Circulation "suggests the World was inflating its circulation by as much as 20 percent." Editor and publisher Keith Skrzypczak tells AAN News that the Weekly hasn't seen the suit yet. "We understand a lawsuit was filed yesterday afternoon, but as of right now, we have not seen a copy of the complaint, and we simply cannot comment on something we haven't seen," he says. "We will be happy to comment on the suit after we have had the chance to review the allegations. In the meantime, Urban Tulsa will be taking steps to talk to the Tulsa World to try to work toward a resolution of the matter." MORE: Slate columnist Jack Shafer says the World will regret the suit.
The Tulsa World  |  01-16-2009  5:28 pm  |  Legal News

Attorney General-Designate Backs Shield Lawnew

At his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, Eric Holder said he supports the idea of a shield law that would allow journalists to protect secret sources by refusing to testify before courts and grand juries. The legislation has been stalled due to protests from the Bush administration Justice Department. Holder also said he would work to reverse the Bush administration policy of withholding federal records from the public if there is any plausible reason to do so. He said he favors a Clinton administration policy to release documents unless there is evidence that disclosure would harm a government agency or the public.
The San Francisco Chronicle  |  01-16-2009  12:02 pm  |  Legal News

Parties Settle Libel Lawsuit Over Yelp.com Reviewnew

A San Francisco chiropractor and his former patient, Christopher Norberg, have settled a libel lawsuit arising out of a bad review that Norberg posted on Yelp.com. Online Media Daily reports that this was likely the first case in which a Yelp.com user was sued for defamation for posting a bad review.
Online Media Daily  |  01-12-2009  8:47 am  |  Legal News