Law Scenarios Mid-Term
For each of the scenarios below, answer the questions using your knowledge of media law and case law. Address the issue from both the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s view point. Define the terms you use and cite cases (and describe them specifically as to how they fit this case) we’ve discussed or read about in class, or other cases that you might be aware of. Detail is important here. Back up the following scenarios from a legal perspective, not your own.
Address these with each scenario….
Each answer should be a minimum of two pages. Some questions may require more like four pages to answer in full. Answer all three scenarios. Grammar counts for 10% of your grade. The rest of your grade goes towards answering the different questions that come up with each scenario.
Sheila and Tom were getting divorced. They had two children. The divorce was particularly complex and acrimonious. During the course of the divorce, Sheila argued that she should have custody of the children because Tom had sexually abused the children when they were younger. Tom denied the abuse allegations and argued that Sheila was an unfit mother because she had a nasty temper and drank too much. After many months of litigation, the court eventually awarded custody of the children to Tom. The local newspaper ran a story about the divorced and custody ruling with the headline: “Losing custody to a ‘child molester.” Tom then sued the paper for libel.
Evaluate whether Tom has a good libel claim. What factors would matter in deciding whether Tom might win or lose?
Trevor Noah (comedian and host of The Daily show) hosted a rally—the Rally to Restore Sanity—on the National Mall (in Washington D.C. where the statues and memorials are). Assume for the purposes of this scenario that the following are true representations of what happened:
Noah wrote an inspiring speech about the importance of logic and rationality as crucial tools in political discussion and debate. He also lamented the lack there of in most modern political debate and poked fun at several prominent commentators. Noah’s speech was written down on paper and he read it at the rally word-for-word.
During the course of the performance, Noah stood in front of a giant screen upon which was displayed several 20 second clips of various Fox News shows featuring various hosts and commentators, such as Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Megyn Kelly and others. Noah mocked the people in the clips as each was played, noting the contradictions in their statements.
Comedy Central (the TV station that broadcasts Noah’s show recorded the entire event and played the recording on the air.
Jennifer, a D.C.-area college student, also recorded the event on her digital camera. She immediately posted her video of the entire event on her blog.
If there are any additional facts you think you need to know to make a determination, please say what those facts are and how they would help you decide?
Also, address these issues…
Duane Benson, a solider from Lake Wobegon, MN, was killed in June by an IED in Iraq. His body was returned to Minnesota and Duane’s parents announced plans in the local paper, the Lake Wobegon Herald, for a funeral at the Luther church with burial to follow at the town’s lakeside cemetery.
Less than twenty-four hours after the announcement of a funeral plans for Duane Benson, the Reverend Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka posted a notice on the church’s website that members of the congregation planned to travel to Minnesota to protest at the Benson funeral ceremony. The notice came as no surprise. The Westboro Baptist group engages in protests at funeral and burial ceremonies from many soldiers killed in combat to show its hatred of America’s alleged tolerance of homosexuality. The Westboro group views homosexuality as an abomination condemned by the Bible.
When word got out of the Westboro gang was coming to Lake Wobegon, a group of townspeople met to plan a counter-demonstration designed to show their disgust with Phelps and his group’s agenda.
Duane’s funeral took place on a beautiful July afternoon. After a service at the church that brought most of the hundred or so funeral-goers to tears, a motorcade drove the mile to Lake Wobegon Lakeside Cemetery. What they saw as they proceeded through the cemetery gates made the mourners cringe. Gathered on a public sidewalk bordering the cemetery were about a dozen protesters carrying signs that read “God hates America,” “God Hates Fags,” “Thank God for IEDs,” and “Duane, Rot in Hell!: The group included two children, including a toddler wearing a diaper made out of an American flag and seven0year-old who, following the commands of an adult, was dumping pig manure on an American flag.
Duane’s burial plot was about 200 feet from the protest. As Pastor Ingkvist said prayers and the coffin was lowered into the ground, mourners could hear in the background the Westboro demonstrators chanting, “Welcome to Hell, Duane!” The mourners were also surprised to see, at the same time, a pontoon boat full of Lake Wobegonians cruise by the cemetery, about 199 feet from the shore. The boat deck with a banner reading, “We Love You, Duane!” Several members of the local barbershop quartet, assembled on the pontoon, broke into a stirring rendition of “Amazing Grace” in an attempt to drown out the chanting of the Westvoro demonstrators gathered by the cemetery fence. The adult members of the Westboro protest group were arrested after the burial service by Lake Wobegon’s police chief, Darryl Tolvesrud. Chief Tolvesrud charged the group with: (1) disturbing the peace (chanting during the service), (2) flag manipulation (diaper wearing and dumping manure on a flag), (3) child abuse (ordering a child to dump manure on a flag), (4) creating a public nuisance (based on the dumping of the pig manure), and (5) conducting a demonstration during a funeral or burial service. The latter charge was based on a Minnesota statute, enacted in response to previous Phelps protests, that prohibits “any demonstration within 300 feet of a church, cemetery, or other place in which a funeral or burial service takes place in the period from one hour before the service to one-half hour after the service.”
No charges were brought against any of the person on the pontoon demonstrating their support for the Benson family.
On month later, the Benson family filed suit against Phelps. The suit sought damages of $5 million for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Please discuss the First Amendment issues raised by the criminal and civil lawsuit brought against Westboro Baptist members.
The post What cases from the book or mentioned in lecture apply here. Describe each case and their application? How could the plaintiff win? How could the defendant win? appeared first on Essay Hotline.
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