Free Speech Protection Applies to Publication of Unsworn Statement Given to Police
Description Idaho appeals court affirmed dismissal of a suit brought by a person against a newspaper for its publication of a 40-year-old unsworn statement given to the police that asserted that the person engaged in homosexual activities with boys. Freedom of speech is absolute with respect to the publication of such court-related documents.
Topic Torts
Key Words Invasion of Privacy; Emotional Defense; Free Speech
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts A newspaper printed an article that included a photo of a 40-year-old handwritten statement given to the police by a person then under investigation. The statement claimed that Fred Uranga engaged in homosexual activity with boys. The paper refused to print a statement, as Uranga requested, that the police statement was false. Uranga sued the newspaper for invasion of privacy and infliction of emotional distress. The trial court dismissed the suit. Uranga appealed.
Decision Affirmed. The publication of the unsworn handwritten statement given to the police and placed in a court file was entitled to First Amendment free speech protection. This is true even though the statement was never used as evidence at trial or in other judicial proceedings. This protection applies even if the allegations were untrue. The press is not subject to liability for accurately reporting about the truthfulness of the content of court records. The age of the statement does not matter either.
Citation Uranga v. Federated Publications, Inc., 2000 WL 1056095 (Ct. App., Idaho, 2000)

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