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Newsroom Alert


Doug Pierce

Newsroom Alert provides you with the latest updates in First Amendment and other legal issues related to news gathering and reporting, including reviews of recent state and federal court decisions.  Some of the many topics include libel, copyright, privacy, and access to records and meetings.

Doug Pierce is a Partner at King & Ballow. He also serves as General Counsel for the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters and President of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government.  He is a frequent writer on legal issues related to newsroom topics; he co-authors portions of the Media Law Resource Center’s annual 50 state surveys for Libel and Privacy.

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CIA not required to disclose torture report

Monday, 08 August 2016 12:26


A Congressional Committee’s 6,000-plus page study on the detention and interrogation program formerly run by the CIA is a Congressional record not subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the federal court of appeals in D.C. ruled last month.


American Sniper takes down Jesse “The Body” Ventura

Wednesday, 06 July 2016 09:56


The U.S. Court of Appeals in St. Louis has thrown out the jury’s $1.85 million judgment in Jesse Ventura’s defamation case against Chris Kyle (the deceased “American Sniper”). The court ruled that Kyle must be given a new trial on the defamation claim and that the unjust enrichment award was improper. (Comment reported on the trial court ruling in February 2015).


Public official must prove actual malice about non-official acts

Monday, 06 June 2016 11:47


The Texas Supreme Court recently held the actual malice standard applies to public officials, even if the published story or statement does not refer to their official capacity as a public official.


Court denies the access to investigative file of ongoing rape case

Thursday, 12 May 2016 13:56


In late June of 2013, the Nashville Police Department began an investigation of the rape of a university student that allegedly occurred in a Vanderbilt University dorm on the morning of June 23, 2013. Two months later in August of 2013, a grand jury indicted four members of the Vanderbilt University football team with five counts each of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. One of the individuals was also charged with unlawful photography and tampering of evidence. On October 2, 2013, the Criminal Court issued an agreed protective order that allowed only the attorneys for the defendants to receive copies of photos and videos taken during the investigation. 


No Constitutional right to record police activities

Monday, 04 April 2016 09:53


There is no First Amendment right to observe and record police officers absent some other expressive conduct, a federal district court in Pennsylvania ruled last month. This is a ruling that has generated considerable disagreement from members of the news media. 


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