News Corp and Fox News’ Claim of Absolute Immunity Attacked in Court Filing
07/22/2011

Potentially historic brief was filed today in the Northern District of Illinois (case #10cv 6682) taking aim at an Illinois Statute that seeks to narrow the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Indian Business owners, Sharad and Harish Dani, wrongfully accused of bribing a former Illinois State Representative Paul Froehlich, fought back against News Corp. and Fox News Defendants, along with tabloid blog, Illinois Review, by making an argument not previously made, that giving absolute immunity to the press, under the Illinois Citizen Participation Act is unconstitutional. Counsel for Plaintiffs point out that Illinois law can never trump the United States Constitution.

Online PR News – 22-July-2011 – – (July 22, 2011 – Chicago) News Corp and Fox News’ Claim of Absolute Immunity Under Citizen Participation Acts in Various States Attacked Today in Historic Court Filing

Potentially historic brief was filed today in the Northern District of Illinois (case #10cv 6682) taking aim at an Illinois Statute that seeks to narrow the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Indian Business owners, Sharad and Harish Dani, wrongfully accused of bribing a former Illinois State Representative Paul Froehlich, fought back against News Corp. and Fox News Defendants, along with tabloid blog, Illinois Review, by making an argument not previously made, that giving absolute immunity to the press, under the Illinois Citizen Participation Act is unconstitutional. Counsel for Plaintiffs point out that Illinois law can never trump the United States Constitution.

Would the grant of absolute immunity for media titans under these state participation acts as characterized by Fox mean that if the current phone hacking scandal involving News Corp and News of the World were to have occurred in the State of Illinois Rupert Murdoch would simply invoke the CPA and say that it barred his ever having to be hailed into court? This would be a preposterous occurrence yet one possibly allowed in Illinois. These state acts were not intended to provide absolute immunity to media titans but rather to level the playing field so that an ordinary citizen much like the Plaintiffs in this case would not be denied their First Amendment rights of participating in matters involved in their governance and from seeking redress.

The Illinois Citizen Participation Act (“CPA”) and acts virtually identical to it in nearly 26 states were well intentioned legislation designed to allow citizens to speak out about matters related to their governance without the threat of being hailed into court and sued by far more well-heeled defendants. However, in practice, these acts, which promise the losing party must pay crippling legal fees, ensure that private citizens never sue the media. These participation acts have been hijacked and used by Fox News and other media titans in almost 26 states to ensure that no one sues the media for publishing falsehoods or engaging in tabloid yellow journalism-giving the media absolute immunity-in addition to existing freedoms of the press.

The lead attorney, R. Tamara de Silva commented that, “Would the grant of absolute immunity for media titans under these state participation acts, as characterized by Fox, mean that if the current phone hacking scandal involving News Corp and News of the World were to have occurred in the State of Illinois, Rupert Murdoch would simply invoke the CPA and say that it barred his ever having to be hailed into court? This would be a preposterous occurrence, yet one possibly allowed in Illinois. These state acts were not intended to provide absolute immunity to media titans, but rather to level the playing field so that an ordinary citizen, much like the Plaintiffs in this case, would not be denied their First Amendment rights of participating in matters involved in their governance and from seeking redress.”

R. Tamara de Silva also said, “Citizen participation acts may have been well-intentioned like so many of the hundreds of laws that are put on the books every year, but what was intended to protect David against Goliath’s club has been wholly usurped by Goliath and hangs over all private parties victimized by tabloid yellow journalism like the Sword of Damocles-ensuring that the media is never sued when it fabricates facts and publishes untruths. These laws as they are applied today are unconstitutional and violative of the right of privacy and the right to petition the government. They should never have been drafted because they are vague to the point of lacking meaning and as such also unconstitutional.”

Attorney Jonathan Lubin, added, “Legislatures have been trying to find a balance between understandably protecting those who seek to exercise their First Amendment rights and those who have felt the sting of actual and malicious defamation like what our clients have been subjected to here. Our clients gave money to a politician, as was their right under the First Amendment. For that, they got defamed by the Illinois Review and by Fox. We look forward to being able to hold responsible those parties, who punished our clients for exercising their Constitutional rights.”

More information and Court filing can be found at http://www.desilvalawoffices.com/Press-Releases.aspx

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