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Cox Broadcasting Corp. v. Cohn

420 U.S. 469 (1975)

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Cox Broadcasting Corp. v. Cohn

United States Supreme Court

420 U.S. 469 (1975)

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Facts

In 1971, the seventeen-year-old daughter of Cohn (plaintiff) was raped by six youths. She did not survive the incident. The subsequent prosecution of these youths received substantial press coverage. However, Cohn’s daughter’s name was not disclosed throughout the prosecution. The incident and trial occurred in the state of Georgia, which makes it a misdemeanor to publish or broadcast the name or identity of a rape victim. At trial, five of the six youths pleaded guilty to rape. The murder charge was dropped. Subsequently, Wassell (defendant), a reporter for Cox Broadcasting Corp. (Cox) (defendant), legally obtained the name of Cohn’s daughter by looking through the public judicial records associated with the case. He later published a news report about the court proceedings and stated the name of Cohn’s daughter. Cohn brought suit against Cox and Wassell claiming money damages for invasion of his right to privacy based on the Georgia statute prohibiting publication of a rape victim’s name. The lower court granted judgment for Cohn, and Cox appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (White, J.)

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