Friday, January 28, 2011

UPDATE: Supreme Court Won't Hear Fair Report Privilege Appeal

U.S. Supreme CourtImage via WikipediaThe U.S. Supreme Court this week denied certiorari in the appeal of Salzano v. North Jersey Media Group d/b/a The Record et al. (No. 10-616), letting stand a decision by the N.J. Supreme Court (Case No. A 78-79, Sept. 2008 Term) upholding the fair report privilege for journalists in defamation suits.

New Jersey's High Court overturned a ruling by an intermediate appellate court that said the privilege had no application to initial allegations in civil proceedings, only reports of final decisions, according to  The N.J. Supreme Court disagreed, ruling that the fair report privilege encompasses defamatory statements contained in filed pleadings that have yet to come before a judicial officer. (See "TUOL" post 5/12/10.)

The privilege protects journalists from liability if they produce fair and substantially accurate accounts of information in an official government record or issues discussed in a government proceeding, even if the information proves to be incorrect.  The plaintiff sued The Record based on a March 2006, article concerning a bankruptcy court complaint involving the plaintiff and a telecommunications company.

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