SPJ Legal Defense Fund Roundup – June 2016
Paul Fletcher, SPJ National President, 804-873-1893, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer Royer, SPJ Communications Strategist, 317-361-4134, email@example.com
INDIANAPOLIS – In its role as a free press and free speech advocate, SPJ’s Legal Defense Fund Committee initiates and joins amicus briefs to support First Amendment and open records cases.
The following are amicus briefs and other action the LDF Committee took in June:
SPJ supports anti-SLAPP statutes applying in federal court
The Society of Professional journalists joined dozens of other news media organizations in filing an amicus brief in a defamation lawsuit between two doctors. The Anti-Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation Act (SLAPP) is a state law meant to guard against frivolous lawsuits against protected speech.
In this case, Tobinick v. Novella, Tobinick filed a suit against Novella after Novella posted articles disputing Tobinick’s claims about treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. SPJ national president Paul Fletcher said, “Plaintiffs should not be able to evade those safeguards merely by suing in federal court instead of state court.”
Read the full amicus brief: Tobinick v. Novella
SPJ signs onto amicus brief emphasizing release of government documents
The Society of Professional Journalists has joined an amicus brief emphasizing that government policy documents related to the use of NSLs should be released under FOIA, not withheld. SPJ joins the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 37 other media organizations in signing this brief.
In the case, Freedom of the Press Foundation v. U.S. Department of Justice, the foundation is seeking information related to the government’s use of certain administrative subpoenas, known as “national security letters,” and “exigent letters,” or informal demands for information in investigations. The FBI has used both in the past to obtain details – including telephone records of journalists and other communications with confidential sources – in leaked investigations, for example.
Read the full amicus brief: Freedom of the Press Foundation v. U.S. Department of Justice
SPJ Supports South Carolina newspaper and journalist
The Society of Professional journalists filed an amicus brief supporting a South Carolina newspaper and journalist. The case, Kelley v. Wren, is a libel suit against The Sun News regarding a series of articles the newspaper published about suspicious campaign contributions that were funneled through limited-liability companies.
The journalist and newspaper have petitioned the South Carolina Supreme Court to review the case, and SPJ’s amicus brief supports that petition. SPJ is joined by the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, among others, in signing this brief.
Read the full amicus brief: Kelley v. Wren
SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. The First Amendment also guarantees the press and the public a right of access to criminal trials, including pretrial proceedings, and documents submitted in connection with them.
The LDF Committee also oversees the Legal Defense Fund, a unique account that can be used to provide journalists with legal or direct financial assistance.
SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a member, give to the Legal Defense Fund, or give to the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation.