Recently in Summer 2002 Category

By Elaine Hargrove-Simon, Silha Fellow and Bulletin editor

Joel Mowbray, a reporter for the National Review, was held for half an hour at the conclusion of a briefing at the State Department in Washington, D.C. on July 12, 2002. Mowbray had written an article critical of the U.S. visa policy in Saudi Arabia, which he speculated may have allowed three of the September 11 terrorists to enter the country. According to a report in the Washington Post, Mowbray also testified before a House Government Reform Subcommittee in June 2002. Those authorities are currently investigating Saudi visa fraud.

By Elaine Hargrove-Simon, Silha Fellow and Bulletin editor

In mid-June, 2002, a Minnesota Court of Appeals panel reversed a lower court ruling that held Maplewood Review reporter Wally Wakefield in contempt for not revealing his sources in a libel suit, releasing Wakefield from contempt charges and a $200 a day fine. (See Winter 2002 Bulletin, "Minnesota Shield Law Facing Test" and Weinberger v. Maplewood Review et al. (2002 Minn. App. LEXIS 711 (Minn. Ct. App. 2002)) Weinberger, a football coach for a local high school, had been fired from his job following accusations of misconduct. Wakefield had covered the story for the Maplewood Review, incorporating statements from unnamed school officials who alleged that Weinberger had intimidated the players. Weinberger sued the school district and four school officials for defamation. Wakefield himself was not sued, but in August 2000, he was subpoenaed to reveal the identities of the confidential sources. Wakefield refused. At a November 2001 hearing, he was found in contempt of court and was fined $200 a day. Wakefield appealed his case to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

By Elaine Hargrove-Simon, Silha Fellow and Bulletin editor

On July 12, 2002, Federal District Judge T.S. Ellis III refused to quash a subpoena issued to Robert Young Pelton, the CNN reporter who interviewed American Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh. (See U.S. v. Lindh, 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13233 (D. Va., July 12, 2002)) Four days later, the issue became moot when Lindh pled guilty to two felony charges.

By Elaine Hargrove-Simon, Silha Fellow and Bulletin editor

On July 12, 2002, Federal District Judge T.S. Ellis III refused to quash a subpoena issued to Robert Young Pelton, the CNN reporter who interviewed American Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh. (See U.S. v. Lindh, 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13233 (D. Va., July 12, 2002)) Four days later, the issue became moot when Lindh pled guilty to two felony charges.

Personal Freedoms at Risk: Homeland Security

By Kirsten Murphy, Silha Fellow

President Bush's proposal for a new cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security contains provisions for a broad FOIA exemption. Under the Bush plan, information voluntarily supplied to the government by private businesses would not be subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.

By Kirsten Murphy, Silha Fellow

Europol, the police and intelligence arm of the European Union, has proposed a plan that will require member states' telephone operators and Internet Service Providers to retain records regarding telephone and Internet activity for a period of up to five years.

Philadelphia Inquirer Reporters Found in Contempt

By Elaine Hargrove-Simon, Silha Fellow and Bulletin editor

Four reporters from the Philadelphia Inquirer were found in contempt and sentenced in June 2002 for violating a court order not to "contact or attempt to interview" any member of the jury of the New Jersey murder trial of Rabbi Fred Neulander, who was charged with hiring a hit man to kill his wife, Carol. The trial ended on November 13, 2001 in a mistrial.

Developments in Internet Law: Cybersquatting

By Elaine Hargrove-Simon, Silha Fellow and Bulletin editor

Cybersquatting is defined in Black's Law Dictionary as "the act of reserving a domain name on the Internet, especially a name that would be associated with a company's trademark." In recent weeks, two men in different parts of the country have been ruled to be cybersquatters. One of them considers it a matter of freedom of speech; for the other, it is a matter of profit. New York resident John Barry has arguably been cybersquatting for profit.

By Kirsten Murphy, Silha Fellow

On July 2, 2002, the New York Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, unanimously decided that Internet publications are subject to the single publication rule, so that each subsequent viewing of an Internet site is not considered to be a republication. The decision, Firth v. State, 2002 N.Y. LEXIS 1901, upheld a Court of Claims decision to grant summary judgment to the State of New York, denying plaintiff George Firth's defamation claim.

By Kirsten Murphy, Silha Fellow

In a reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on April 16, 2002 that it is unconstitutional under the First Amendment to ban the production, possession or distribution of computer-generated child pornography (Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, 122 S.Ct. 1389 (2002); see also Spring 2002 Bulletin, "Supreme Court Strikes Down Virtual Child Pornography Law"), the House passed HR 4623, the Child Obscenity and Pornography Prevention Act of 2002, on June 25. The bill amends the 1996 Child Pornography Protection Act (CPPA), 18 U.S.C. section2256.

By Elaine Hargrove-Simon, Silha Fellow and Bulletin editor

A "Declaration of Internet Users' Rights" was published by 18 Chinese dissidents and intellectuals in China on July 29, 2002, according to Agence France-Presse. The declaration calls for the Chinese people to have complete freedom in surfing the Internet. Additionally, the Declaration of Rights states that creators of Web pages must be restricted only with regard to "evident and real" slander, pornography or certain "violent attacks or behavior."

By Kirsten Murphy, Silha Fellow

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in July 2002 that statements made by a Minnesota resident in an Internet chat room were not sufficiently directed toward readers in the state of Alabama to require Minnesota to confer "full faith and credit" on an Alabama district court decision finding that the statements were libelous (see Griffis v. Luban, 2002 Minn. LEXIS 461 (Minn. 2002).

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