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Gonzales v. National Broadcasting Company, Inc.

194 F.3d 29 (1999)

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Gonzales v. National Broadcasting Company, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

194 F.3d 29 (1999)

Facts

Albert and Mary Gonzales (plaintiffs) were pulled over by Louisiana Deputy Sheriff Darrell Pierce. The Gonzaleses filed a lawsuit in federal court against Pierce, alleging that he violated their rights by pulling them over without probable cause or reasonable suspicion because they were Hispanic. The Gonzaleses alleged that Pierce regularly made traffic stops to extort valuables from travelers, particularly targeting Hispanics and other minorities. National Broadcasting Company, Inc. (NBC) (defendant) broadcast a segment of Dateline NBC discussing abusive law-enforcement practices in Louisiana surrounding unwarranted traffic stops. Dateline employee Pat Weiland drove a car with hidden recording devices and was filmed being stopped by Pierce. Dateline’s report asserted that no traffic laws were broken by Weiland, contrary to Pierce’s claim, and that the video showed Weiland was stopped without probable cause. The Dateline broadcast only included a few short clips of the car moving and Weiland’s stop. The Gonzaleses and Pierce both served subpoenas on NBC for the full footage of Pierce’s traffic stop of Weiland and for deposition testimony of NBC employees. NBC objected, claiming in part that the subpoenaed materials were protected by a qualified privilege. The district court found that while a qualified privilege protected nonconfidential and confidential journalistic information, the Gonzaleses had sufficiently overcome the lesser privilege that protects nonconfidential material. NBC was ordered to produce the subpoenaed material. NBC appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Leval, J.)

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