Bloggers can rest easier as they post articles from their computers. They have equal First Amendment rights with trained journalists.
That was the recent decision of the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a defamation lawsuit brought against a blogger in California. The decision went even further, confirming that First Amendment rights are applicable to everyone, and that everyday citizens and Pulitizer Prize-winning journalists journalists all possess the same rights under the First Amendment.
The unanimous 9th Circuit decision reversed a $2.5 million judgment against blogger Crystal Cox by Obsidian Finance Group and its co-founder Kevin Padrick. The verdict followed a nearly inexplicable District Court opinion allowing the case to go to trial on the basis that Ms Cox could not produce evidence that he was a trained journalists engaged in that profession, that he could not claim the First Amendment protection of the New York Times v. Sullivan case.
For the decision in Obsidian Finance Group v. Cox, CLICK HERE.
For most First Amendment lawyers, the surprise was not the 9th Circuit's reversal, but the District Court's original decision, which seemed to go against a half-century of law to the contrary, although seldom applied to the new technology of blogging.
The lawsuit arose from a post by Ms Cox accusing Obsidian and Padrick of tax fraud in the handing of a company that was in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The 9th Circuit covers most of the western-most United States, including California. The United States Circuit Courts of Appeal are the second highest federal courts, next to the US Supreme Court.
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