Students lose appeal in case over newspaper 'sextimonials'

, The National Law Journal


A group of students has lost an appeal of a jury verdict that absolved a high school in Washington state of liability for quoting them in a school newspaper article about oral sex among students.

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What's being said

  • Hanging out the kids to dry --again

    I'm not sure what happened on appeal, but in the primary litigation of this case, it seems fairly clear that the jury got this one totally wrong. Intelligent juries find ways to bend instruction to their collective will, and where this case is concerned, their will should have been to protect the students/kids.

    Perhaps they were another example of a jury comprised of members with strong ties to the school system who are overly protective of it.

    In any event, the issue of freedom of the press should not have entered the courtroom. This case is about how as a society, we know kids do stupid things. They make stupid decisions for themselves, same as adults, except when they mess up, we give them leniency and protections because, well,,, they're KIDS.

    And what kind of journalistic "story" runs on who did what to whom sexually, anyway?
    Sounds more like a gossip rag to me. I feel for these teens and their parents. What's really surprising is that only 1/2 of the parents fought the school and stuck-up for their children on this.

    Good grief.

  • Pa lawyer

    The problem here is that the students did not realize what going public would mean. I think it would have been proper to keep the student's identities secret, even if they OK'ed the quotes. I think this is more of an issue with proper journalism.

  • Lulaine

    This development is a tough break for students because they might have had a shot at getting a new trial. Even with the problems the students had to endure, it was not enough for the jury and its not enough for the appeal. Many judges are loathe to overturn a verdict or accept an appeal where 12 ordinary citizens meted out justice without sufficient proof.

  • runshyt

    The students have a point. The original court's failure to rule on the forum issue created prejudice as to the issue of the school's duty to take reasonable steps to protect the students privacy. I definitely think they should appeal.

    This is a well-kept secret, but today's judges and other authority figures do not like the youth of today, and they often take advantage of opportunities to "teach them a lesson". I understand that they are way out of control insofar as their morals are concerned, and they grow up too fast, but we must be careful to prevent the permanent damage that can result from such exercises. I hope they win their suit, but only get $1 each. After all, they did run their mouths.

    That raises another worthy question: if underaged youths cannot be questioned by police without the consent of an attorney and/or parent, why shouldn't that restriction extend to journalists?

    Still, the students deserve some type of protection, because the outcome of this case could affect them for the rest of their lives.

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