Media / First Amendment

Media / First Amendment

No other Oklahoma law firm surpasses Doerner for our breadth of media counseling, covering defamation, privacy, First Amendment and related issues. We represent many of the state’s largest publishers and broadcasters, are counsel to individual members and the Legal Services Plan of the Oklahoma Press Association, represent national publishers and broadcasters in Oklahoma court proceedings, and advise numerous authors and publishers in the state on their media law concerns. Three of our lawyers have been selected by their peers as being among The Best Lawyers in America® for First Amendment law, and each year our firm prepares the Oklahoma chapter to the Media Law Resource Center’s 50-State Survey of Media Privacy and Related Law.

Our job is to keep editors and reporters out of trouble. We review newspaper and magazine articles and broadcast media stories from the concept stage through final dissemination in order to minimize potential legal liability.  We use decades of practical working media knowledge of print and broadcast media to review copy and advise our clients on substantiation and potential libel concerns, helping conform content to the policies, standards and guidelines of all media in order to answer any challenges by third parties.

In extremely controversial articles we have participated in the editing process, to ensure that both reporters and their editors understand the legal issues involved and to suggest risk mitigation strategies – recognizing always that the final decision to run a story rests with our clients.

As the Internet continues to transform traditional media, we combine practical working knowledge of print and broadcast media with the latest developments in Internet law to review online materials. 

Recent Doerner Experience

  • Act as counsel to an Oklahoma-based entrepreneurial group of pastors, professionals and authors that has become a successful writer’s agent and publishing business.
  • Successfully defended a leading national magazine in U.S. District Court, the Tenth Circuit and the US Supreme Court against invasion of privacy claims.
  • Counseled individual members of the Oklahoma Press Association on libel, defamation, privacy and public record access issues.
  • Represented television stations in Oklahoma City and Tulsa in the successful defense of state court lawsuits in the district court and court of appeals, involving slander and false light invasion of privacy claims.
  • Acted on behalf of Tulsa radio and television stations in news access efforts and cameras in the courtroom efforts in the state court Oklahoma City bombing case.
  • Advised two national publishing companies and a Pulitzer Prize winning author in the successful resolution of a federal court lawsuit involving libel, false light invasion of privacy, violation of right of publicity statutes and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims.

Top Areas of Focus

  • Defend news media outlets and reporters against claims of libel, slander, defamation and invasion of privacy.
  • Provide general news access and news gathering consultation on issues such as freedom of information and the “sunshine law."
  • Conduct pre-publication and pre-broadcast review of stories, working closely with journalists and editors.
  • Represent media clients in responding to subpoenas and other legal proceedings.

 Case Study:  Defending a Major Publisher in a High Profile First Amendment Case

  • Opportunity:  We represented a leading national magazine and an internationally recognized photojournalist who had photographed the open casket of an Oklahoma National Guard member killed in Iraq – the first such death since the Korean War. The funeral service was held in a high school auditorium to accommodate the crowd, and the family invited political leaders and the media to the event – but later sued our clients for violation of privacy.
  • Solution:  Our defense of the magazine's First Amendment rights emphasized that the funeral was a public event held at a public location.  In addition, which political figures (including the Governor of Oklahoma) and the news media were invited, and the open casket was on display for all who attended to honor the fallen soldier. We argued that these considerations opened the funeral proceeding to the public eye, and that any photographs taken did not violate privacy rights. 
  • Result:  The Oklahoma federal district court that heard the case granted our clients summary judgment on all claims, a ruling affirmed by both the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals and the US Supreme Court.

Take Action

Although we provide effective advocacy in court defending the rights of media clients and authors, much of our work involves helping clients understand potential problems before taking content public.  Our extensive experience enables us to take an editor’s viewpoint and help clients weigh legal risks against the public interest and reach the right decision to accommodate both.

Key Contact

P: 918.591.5316
F: 918.925.5316

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Justin B. Munn

Justin B. Munn

Justin represents clients throughout Oklahoma in family law, civil litigation, guardianships, adoptions, estate planning, trust and probate matters. 

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