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The Baltimore Sun Co. v. Ehrlich

437 F.3d 410 (2006)

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The Baltimore Sun Co. v. Ehrlich

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

437 F.3d 410 (2006)

Facts

After two writers for the Baltimore Sun (the Sun), David Nitkin and Michael Olesker (the Sun reporters) (plaintiffs), reported unfavorably on Maryland governor Robert Ehrlich, Jr. (defendant), Ehrlich’s press office issued a written directive forbidding governor’s office employees from returning the Sun reporters’ calls and complying with their requests. The directive stated that the Sun reporters were failing to objectively report on the Ehrlich administration. The directive was written by Gregory Massoni (defendant) and distributed by Shareese DeLeaver (defendant). The Sun reporters and the Baltimore Sun Company (plaintiff) filed an action in federal court seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions against the enforcement of the directive. The Sun reporters testified that government representatives were not returning calls or emails or granting access to press briefings as usual, although they received public press releases and were permitted to attend public press briefings. In the eight weeks before the directive, Nitkin published 45 articles on state government and published 43 in the eight weeks after. Olesker wrote one government article before the directive and one after. Massoni testified that public officials commonly refused or limited a reporter’s access to information and sources. DeLeaver testified that the private press briefings were limited in capacity and attendees were invited discretionarily. The district court denied the request for injunctive relief. Baltimore Sun and the Sun reporters appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Niemeyer, J.)

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