Publications

As an attorney . . .

Specialty Technical Publishers: 

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press:

Amicus briefs (friend-of-the-court briefs filed on behalf of the press):

  • Hassell v. Bird – California Supreme Court (8/10/16): The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, together with 30 other media organizations, filed an amicus letter brief with the California Supreme Court urging it to review a case in which Yelp was ordered to take down material from its site without notice or an opportunity to be heard. A trial court had entered a default judgment in a libel suit after the defendant failed to appear and contest the suit. The plaintiff then sought and received an injunction requiring Yelp to remove the reviews. Two courts found that Yelp was bound by the injunction. The amicus letter argued that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act immunizes online services providers from injunctions, an injunction restraining speech of a nonparty is an improper remedy for a defamation action, and the lower courts improperly required a content distributor to remove speech before allowing an opportunity to be heard.
  • Larson v. Gannett Co., Inc. – Minnesota Court of Appeals (6/29/16): Ryan Larson sued Gannett Company, Inc., for defamation in Minnesota after a local television station and newspaper reported on the police investigation into the killing of a police officer. After the officer’s death, law enforcement officials held a news conference and issued a press release stating they had arrested Larson in connection with the death. Journalists from KARE 11 and the St. Cloud Times reported on Larson’s arrest. Police later cleared Larson as a suspect. The trial court denied Gannett’s motion for summary judgment that asserted the statements were protected under the fair report privilege. Gannett appealed for discretionary review to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. The Reporters Committee filed a request to participate as amicus curiae in support of Gannett’s petition for discretionary review, arguing the appellate court should review the decision because of the fair report privilege’s importance in reporting on government affairs without fear of liability. Additionally, the denial of Gannett’s motion for summary judgment conflicted with the broad fair report privilege applied in other courts. An expedited review would have allowed the court to resolve this issue promptly and ensure the news media can continue reporting on government affairs without the burdens of continuing litigation. Ultimately, the Minnesota Court of Appeals denied Gannett’s petition for discretionary review.  Thus, RCFP’s amicus request was denied as moot.
  • Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Wasden – U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (6/28/16): Two animal protection organizations and a woman arrested while documenting events at an agricultural site from a public road challenged Utah Code Ann. § 76-6-112, known as an “ag-gag” statute, as unconstitutional under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.  The statute criminalizes recording images and sounds of agricultural production facilities without the facility owner’s express consent.  The Reporters Committee, joined by 17 other media organizations, filed an amicus brief in support of Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment. Amici explain that journalists and other organizations have a long history of improving food safety by exposing violations in agriculture productions. Utah’s “ag-gag” statute interferes with the First Amendment rights of those continuing to inform the public about food safety, the treatment of animals, and environmental concerns. Amici also argue the law is unconstitutional under the First Amendment as a content-based restriction on speech that cannot overcome strict scrutiny.
  • Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Herbert – U.S. District Court for the District of Utah (6/7/16): Two animal protection organizations and a woman arrested while documenting events at an agricultural site from a public road challenged Utah Code Ann. § 76-6-112, known as an “ag-gag” statute, as unconstitutional under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The statute criminalizes recording images and sounds of agricultural production facilities without the facility owner’s express consent. The Reporters Committee, joined by 17 other media organizations, filed an amicus brief in support of Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment. Amici explain that journalists and other organizations have a long history of improving food safety by exposing violations in agriculture productions. Utah’s “ag-gag” statute interferes with the First Amendment rights of those continuing to inform the public about food safety, the treatment of animals, and environmental concerns. Amici also argue the law is unconstitutional under the First Amendment as a content-based restriction on speech that cannot overcome strict scrutiny.
  • Tobinick v. Novella – U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (5/31/16): Dr. Edward Tobinick sued Dr. Steven Novella for unfair competition, trade libel, and libel per se in federal court after Novella published two online articles about what Novella believed were Tobinick’s unproven practice of treating Alzheimer’s disease and strokes with Embrel. Tobinick also sued Novella under the Lanham Act for the same publications. The Reporters Committee, with 24 other media organizations, filed an amicus brief in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals arguing the District Court properly dismissed Tobinick’s state claims under the California anti-SLAPP statute and federal claims under the Lanham Act. Amici assert the District Court correctly applied the California anti-SLAPP statute in federal court because the statute does not conflict with the federal rules and is substantive under the Erie Doctrine. Further, applying anti-SLAPP statutes in federal court protects speakers from frivolous lawsuits and reduces chilling effects. Amici also contend the District Court appropriately found Novella’s speech to be noncommercial speech and thus shielded from Lanham Act liability under the First Amendment.
  • Electronic Arts, Inc. v. Brown – California Court of Appeal (4/18/16): Amicus brief to the California Court of Appeal arguing that the First Amendment shields EA from liability against former NFL fullback Jim Brown’s right of publicity claims stemming from use of his likeness in Madden NFL. Our brief asserts that a constitutionally protected video game is protected under the First Amendment because it contains speech on matters of public interest and Brown’s claims do not survive strict scrutiny as a content-based restriction. Brown’s suit is also barred under California’s public affairs exemption and applicable case law. Amici further contend EA’s speech must be protected to prevent chilling effects on speech and encourage the news industry to continue evolving as technology advances.
  • Smith v. The Humane Society – Missouri Supreme Court (2/4/16): Amicus brief to Missouri Supreme Court advocating for the dismissal of Plaintiff’s defamation and false light claims relating to a Report by the Humane Society. The Report, published in lieu of a public vote on the “Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act,” listed the Plaintiff’s kennel on a list of Missouri’s worst “puppy mills,” dubbed the “Missouri Dirty Dozen” by the Humane Society. RCFP, together with 22 media organizations, argue the statements are protected, non-actionable opinion under the First Amendment because they are based on disclosed, truth facts and are core political speech. We also contend that broadly protecting statements of opinion preserves the vitality of the marketplace of ideas and encourages speakers to infuse valuable information into the public sphere. Missouri Supreme Court Decision here; summary here; AP article here (affirming appellate court that “puppy mill” in not actionable opinion).
  • Angel v. Winograd – California Court of Appeal (12/21/15): Amicus brief to the California Court of Appeal urging the Court to reverse the trial court’s unprecedented interpretation of the actual malice standard. The trial court found the defendant acted with actual malice merely because her views differed than those of government employees. This actual malice interpretation ignores years of jurisprudence, cuts against the core meaning of the First Amendment, and infringes on journalist’s ability to maintain its adversarial role with the government. Society of Professional Journalists’ press release about Winograd amicus brief.
  • People v. Raef – California Supreme Court (11/15/15): Amicus letter brief to the California Supreme Court asking Court to review California Vehicle Code 40008. We argued the Court of Appeal’s decision must be reviewed because Section 40008 is not a law of general applicability and it has more than an incidental effect on speech. We believe the Court of Appeal also erred in giving undue deference to police and prosecutors in enforcing this vague law that will harm journalists.

RCFP letters:

  • Letter to Minnesota legislature concerning PRINCE Act, a right of publicity bill introduced after Prince’s death attempting to creating the state’s first right of publicity statute. Our letter asked the legislature to amend the bill to protect First Amendment protected expression. Soon after, the sponsor withdrew the bill.

Legislation:

  • SPEAK FREE Act (H.R. 2304): The Reporters Committee filed written testimony, supplemental testimony, and served as a witness on June 22, 2016 before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice advocating for the SPEAK FREE Act (H.R. 2304). The SPEAK FREE Act, a federal anti-SLAPP bill, would give speakers sued for expression on matters of public concern a mechanism in which to quickly dismiss SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) suits brought to suppress speech. The Reporters Committee emphasized that a federal anti-SLAPP law is needed because 22 states do not have anti-SLAPP protections and some federal courts will not apply state provisions in federal courts.

RCFP magazine articles – The News Media and The Law:

RCFP web articles:

Citations/Quoted in:

Lectures:

  • Guest lectured Georgetown graduate journalism ethics course. Engaged discussion with students on media law and First Amendment issues journalists frequently face. (10/14/15; 6/21/16)
  • Guest lectured Communications law class at Associated Press headquarters on obscenity, child pornography, and indecency. (11/16/15)

As a law student . . .

Louisiana Law Review:

Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University:

The Civilian

The Interdisciplinary Internet Institute:

CALI Excellence for the Future Awards (highest grade in course):

  • Trademark Law (Spring 2015)
  • International Intellectual Property Law (Spring 2015)
  • Entertainment, Media, and the Law (Fall 2014)
  • Decedent’s Estates (Fall 2014)
  • Copyright Law (Spring 2014)
  • Introduction to Intellectual Property (Fall 2013)
  • Legal Writing & Research (Fall 2012)

As a journalist . . .

The Daily Reveille (over 300 articles written total):

SportsNola.com:

FoxSports/Scout.com/TigerSportsDigest:

WWLTV.com:

CBS – WAFB:

UWIRE:

LSUInsidetheBox:

TigerTV:

 Raiders’ Digest:

Radio Appearances:

ML_NewColor

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