Legal Brief - Assignment Example

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According to the United States Supreme Court a public figure cannot be held in libel unless proofs of malice can be evidenced. The…
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Task Case Brief and Citation The case is of New York Times Co. Vs. Sullivan- 376 U.S 254 (1964), a case of the UnitedStates Supreme Court (
2. Facts of the Case
This is the case that defined the standard of actual malice and the level of speech freedom with regard to public figures (Rolph, David &Kirby, 1). According to the United States Supreme Court a public figure cannot be held in libel unless proofs of malice can be evidenced. The case is of New York Times a newspaper company that was sued by L. B Sullivan, a Montgomery Public Safety Commissioner for defamation due to an advertisement titled ‘Heed Their Rising Voices’ ( Sullivan accused the New York Times; of falsely accusing he of arresting Martin Luther king Jr seven times, yet in reality Martin Luther had only been arrested four times ( In addition, Sullivan accused four black ministers named in the advertisement of erroneously accusing the police actions on protesters in Alabama. The New York Times said the suit was a way of intimidating new publishing houses, and a way of averting them from exposing unlawful actions of workers in relation to the segregation. Sullivan won the case in the trial court.
3. Issues
The famous case of New York Times vs. Sullivan was a cry of the black people about the segregation and liberty of speech. The laws state that ‘A municipal official litigating for libel must attest that the statement in question was made with actual malevolence, rather than ordinary sense of malicious intent’ ( Assuming that Sullivan was acting on behalf of the Alabama state and the police department of Alabama, the key issue here is, ‘Does the suing of a newspaper and black ministers who are attempting to end segregation qualify for defamation suit? Additionally, a key issue here is, ‘What constitutes actual malice, and what are the standards of speech freedom or defamation?
4. Decisions and Reasoning
The court ruled in favor of the New York Times as the Alabama court laws were found to be deficient. This is because there was failure to provide confines to speech defamation and freedom ( The United States Supreme Court states clearly that the facts provided by Alabama court, even if presented under the preserve of verbal communication, were still inefficient constitutionally in the case of Sullivan (Packard, 241). The law states’ proof of actual malice was necessary in order for compensation to be honored ( There were no dissidents as all the judges were for the ruling in favor of New York Times.
5. Analysis
The consequences of the United States verdict in favor of New York Times led to new organizations writing and reporting freely about civil rights violations, and the segregation illegalities happening in Alabama (Packard, 242). The law has not changed in any form. In my view, I think the court was fair in its ruling in favor of New York Times. This is because had the court ruled in favor of Sullivan the allegations, segregation and illegitimate acts upon public employees in Alabama would not have ended until today (Packard, 242). Therefore, it was wise of the court to allow press and public figures freedom of speech as it has changed the world drastically. In addition, it has unified the white and blacks and brought peace in the United States.
Works Cited
Justia.Com. (2012). US Supreme Court Centre. Cited in
Packard, Ashley. Digital Media Law. Malden, MA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2012. Internet resource.
Rolph, David, and M D. Kirby. Reputation, Celebrity and Defamation Law. Aldershot, Hampshire, England: Ashgate, 2008. Print. Read More
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