Brief Fact Summary.
Cohn sued Cox Broadcasting for publishing the name of his daughter, a deceased rape victim, in violation of a Georgia law.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
States cannot impose sanctions on the publication of truthful information contained in official court records open to public inspection.
It avoids the mischief of economic waste and of delayed justice.View Full Point of Law
Cohn’s 17 year old daughter was raped and murdered. Her identity was kept private throughout the trial. During the proceedings, a reporter discovered the identity of the victim. Later that day, the reporter disclosed her identity to a news station owned by Cox Broadcasting, and the news station broadcasted her name the following day.
Cohn sued Cox Broadcasting, claiming that his right to privacy had been invaded and that they had violated theGeorgia law.
Can a state extend a cause of action for invasion of privacy caused by the publication of the name of a deceased rape victim, which was publicly revealed in connection with the prosecution of the crime?
No. The Georgia law violates the First Amendment.
The freedom of the press to publish information is of critical importance to our type of government.
Trials are public events, and the victim’s name was found in those public documents.
To preserve that form of government, states cannot impose sanctions on the publication of truthful information contained in official court records open to public inspection.
It would be a bad idea to make public records available to the media but forbid their publication.