Friday, July 15, 2005

The famous ex-Alabama football coach defamation case and the constitutional limits on revealing sources

In Price v. Time, Inc., the Eleventh Circuit in a really fun opinion by Judge Carnes (an Alabama grad), joined by Judge Pryor (another Alabaman) said:

"While the scope of the 'any' adjective is plenty wide to sweep in all of the noun category that follows, it ordinarily does not sweep beyond that category. The term 'any dog' does not mean 'any dog or cat' unless a cat is a dog. Likewise, the term 'any newspaper' does not mean 'any newspaper or magazine,' unless a magazine is a newspaper."

The Court concluded that Sports Illustrated is not a newspaper for purposes of Alabama's reporter shield law. Based on the last post and this one, I'm thinking we should all go one better on Bill Hobbs (and like-minded others) and make this an online newspaper, with a paid staff of one.

The Court went on to conclude, however, that Price was not yet entitled to get the defendants to reveal their secrets, which are not very secret - the ladies from the strip club with whom the coach was accused of partying have been named but not yet to be deposed, and maybe one of them was the SI reporter's confidential source.

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