Citation. 491 U.S. 524, 109 S. Ct. 2603, 105 L. Ed. 2d 443, 1989 U.S.
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Brief Fact Summary.
A newspaper reported the name of a crime victim against her wishes.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
If truthful information is lawfully obtained about a matter of public interest, then the state may not punish the publication of this information.
Florida Star (Petitioner) is a newspaper in Jacksonville that runs a section of “police reports” in its paper. B.J.F. (Respondent) was a victim of a robbery and sexual assault that she reported to the police. In the police report Respondent was identified by name and the report was placed in the police station press room. Petitioner prepared a brief based on this report and named Respondent in its paper. Respondent alleges negligence by Petitioner for printing her full name.
Is there an invasion of privacy when information is truthfully reported from public records?
No. This conduct may be punished only when there is a narrowly tailored, significant state interest in doing so.
There is no public interest in publishing or identifying the victims of crime. Therefore, Respondent should be compensated for Petitioner’s conduct.
There is no legitimate state interest in the censorship of the media to protect an individual’s identity.