News & Resources

Calling Someone a Drunkard Is Libel – Unless It’s True

Making public statements —written or verbal—about someone’s professional or personal conduct is risky business. I wrote about some of the dangers in a recent post. The news media know the law. They must have facts to back up reports about a person’s conduct, performance, competency, health, or morals, so they work to avoid rank speculation and rumor. But today, the risk goes beyond the traditional news media. With the internet, everyone has an available printing […]

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Trade Secret Exemption from Public Records Unchanged

In an earlier post, I discussed public records legislation that would have removed the trade secrets exemption for businesses contracting with state agencies. But HB 459 died in the process during the 2018 session that ended in March, along with three other pieces of legislation related to this issue: HB-461, SB-958, and SB-956. So, the law remains that certain public records are exempt from public disclosure if they contain trade secrets. The genesis of at […]

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Prior Restraint – Tried but Never Affirmed

The Bill of Rights enshrines the rights to free speech and free press in our Constitution. Yet since the beginning of our republic, various compartments of our government have tried (and always failed) to impose prior restraint on those rights by invoking court power to stop the publication or broadcast of unwanted news. While there is potential for the government’s lawful exercise of that power against our free press, no court in the land has […]

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The Risk of Public Statements about Someone’s Behavior

With apologies to my academic friends: it is sometimes said that arguments in academia are especially vehement because the stakes are so low. However, from the perspective of Florida community college professor Isabel Del Pino-Allen, the stakes in her defamation lawsuit against a fellow professor are very high: her employment and reputation. Del Pino-Allen sued Juan Santelises for slander after the fellow professor allegedly made numerous false, malicious, and defamatory claims to the administration of […]

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Does Florida’s Journalist Privilege Apply to Unsolicited Information? How Can It Not?

On December 1, 2014, Travel Weekly published a glowing article about former Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Colin Veitch, calling him a “visionary” and maybe “the most influential and creative cruise CEO of the past decade”. Veitch’s successor as CEO, Kevin Sheehan, took issue with that characterization and wrote an email to Travel Weekly’s publisher and editor-in-chief. As a result, the publication removed the article from its website a few days later. Colin Veitch then sued […]

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HB 459: Will Your Trade Secrets Become Public Records?

If you do business with the state of Florida, you may no longer be able to rely on a trade secrets exemption to hide related contracts or financial data from the public. Currently, certain public records can be kept private if they contain trade secrets. In 2016, the House Speaker sought to make public the terms of rapper Pitbull’s spokesman contract with the public agency Visit Florida. Pitbull argued that the trade secret exemption protected […]

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