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Lecture 13

JOUR 302 Lecture Notes - Lecture 13: Brass Knuckles, The Stanford Daily, National Security Letter

Course Code
JOUR 302
Stephen Stern

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Cohen v. Cowles Media co., 501 U.S. 663 (1991)
- 5-4 vote ruled Court ruled that the First Amendment does not protect media from being
sued by a news source if a promise of confidentiality is broken, regardless of the
newsworthiness and relevance of the name to an important story
- Begain i 1982 when Dan Cohen a PR aide to Republican candidate for governor gave
several reporters document s that revealed petty misdeeds many years earlier by
Democratic candidate for lt. Governor (shoplifting of $6)
- Leaked it to the press
- Although promised not to identify him still did
- Found it most fair to identify the Republican source
- Argued First Amendment to publish name, ruled it does protect media
Delaney v. Superior Court, 50 C.3d 785 (1990)
- Los Angeles Times reporter Roxana Kopetman and photographer Roberto Santiago
Bertero, were accompanying members of a Long Beach Police Department task force on
- The officers observed Sean Patrick Delaney and a companion seated on a bench in the
Long Beach Plaza Mall
- A plastic bag of a type often used to store narcotics was protruding from Delaney's shirt
- The officers inquired about the contents of the bag, and Delaney removed it from his
pocket to show that it contained a piece of gold and a piece of jewelry
- He told the officers he intended to pawn the items at the mall
- Because no pawn shops were in the mall, the officers became suspicious and
asked Delaney for his identification
- Delaney reached for a jacket lying next to him on the bench as if to get his wallet
- According to the officers, they asked Delaney before he picked up the jacket if
they could check it for weapons
- He allegedly consented to the search
- An officer ran his fingers along the outside of the jacket and felt a hard
object in its pocket, retrieved a set of brass knuckles, which Delaney
claimed was a key chain
- Four days later, the Los Angeles Times (hereafter the Times) published an article about
the police task force
- The article included information regarding the police contact with Delaney but did not
refer to whether he had consented to the search of his jacket pocket
- Reporters were called to testify by the prosecution to demonstrate the legality of the
- The reporters filed petitions for writs of habeas corpus in the superior court. That court
found the shield law provided the reporters with immunity from contempt and granted
their petitions.
- Delaney and the People of the State of California (through the Long Beach City
Prosecutor) filed a joint petition in the Court of Appeal seeking to vacate the orders of
the superior court that granted the reporters' habeas corpus petitions
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