Mass Communication Law and Ethics

By Roy L. Moore | Go to book overview

jurisdiction by the U.S. Supreme Court. But before a case can be heard by the court by writ of certiorari, at least four justices must agree to consider the appeal. If at least five justices agree, a majority opinion is reached and a precedent can be established. A plurality opinion (one written by less than a majority) never sets a precedent. Other types of decisions are per curiam opinions and memorandum decisions. If a case is neither moot nor ripe, or if the parties have no standing, the Court will refuse to hear the case per Article III, § 2, of the U.S. Constitution.

It is imperative that journalists and aspiring journalists be familiar with legal concepts, judicial principles, and the structure of the state and federal court systems to ensure that their stories are accurate and complete. Media consumers have already been confused and misled in television shows and novels about lawyers and the courts, with a few notable exceptions such as the Court TV cable network.


ENDNOTES
1.
These and other specialized courts are diagrammed and described in a chart of the U.S. judicial system distributed by West Publishing Company and often displayed in law libraries.
2.
AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION, LAW AND THE COURTS 15 ( Chicago: ABA, 1995).
3.
United States v. Ursery, 518 U.S. 267, 116 S.Ct. 2135, 135 L.Ed.2d 549 ( 1996).
4.
See Gibeat, One Toke Over the Line, 82 A.B.A. J. 28 ( September 1996).
5.
See Pamela Coyle, Tried and Tried Again, 84 A.B.A. J. 38 ( April 1998).
6.
Stewart, The Uncertainty of Cert, 82 A.B.A. J. 50 ( April 1996).
7.
AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION, LAW AND THE COURTS 14.
8.
See H. J. Reske, Growing Judiciary Worries Administrator, 81 A.B.A. J. 28 ( May 1995).
9.
See State Courts Struggling to Keep Up With Rising Caseloads, 19 Ga. State Bar News 1 ( June 1994).
10.
Id.
11.
See "Frivolous" Lawsuits Not as Prevalent as They Seem, Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader (Associated Press), June 11, 1994, at A3, col. 2.
12.
The official name is writ of habeas corpus ad subjiciendum. There are other writs of habeas corpus, but the use of the term writ of habeas corpus is nearly always in reference to a writ of habeas corpus ad subjiciendum.
13.
Pub. L. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1217, 18 U.S.C. 153 ( 1996).
14.
U.S. CONST., ART. 1, § 9, cl. 2.
15.
Felker v. Turpin, Warden, 518 U.S. 651, 116 S.Ct. 2333, 135 L.Ed.2d 827 ( 1996).
16.
Id.
17.
Sheppard v. Maxwell, 384 U.S. 333, 86 S.Ct. 1507, 16 L.Ed.2d 600 ( 1966).
18.
BLACK'S LAW DICTIONARY 1343.
19.
International Shoe Company v. State of Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 66 S.Ct. 154, 90 L.Ed. 95 ( 1945).
20.
See especially Shaffer v. Heitner, 433 U.S. 186, 97 S.Ct. 2569, 53 L.Ed.2d 683 ( 1977) and Kulko v. Superior Court of California, 436 U.S. 84, 98 S.Ct. 1690, 56 L.Ed.2d 132 ( 1978).
21.
LAW AND THE COURTS, p. 21.
22.
28 U.S.C. § 1332 ( 1996).
23.
Strawbridge v. Curtiss, 7 U.S. 267, 2 L.Ed. 435, 3 Cranch 267 ( 1806).
24.
Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 58 S.Ct. 817, 82 L.Ed. 1188 ( 1938).
25.
Hanna v. Plumer, 380 U.S. 460, 85 S.Ct. 1136, 14 L.Ed.2d 8 ( 1965).
26.
Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833, 112 S.Ct. 2791 ( 1992).
27.
See W. Potter, Is Ginsburg a Plus for the Press?, 15 PRESSTIME 14 ( August 1993).
28.
L. Denniston, The News Media Won't Miss Byron White, 16 AMERICAN JOURNALISM REV. 46 ( July/August 1993).
29.
J. H. Choper, Benchmarks, 79 A.B.A. J. 78 ( November 1993).

-45-

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