cases can be either ex contractu (breach of contract) or ex delicto (tort). When the state
(government) brings action against an individual or organization for the commission
of a crime or crimes, the case is known as a criminal suit; penalties can range from a
small fine to incarceration or even death for certain felonies.
However, tracking down the sources for standards of ethics is no easy task. Indeed,
most of what we know about media ethics has been acquired with experience,
although there are a few professional codes that provide some guidance. Unfortunately, these codes are typically so vague and general that yes or no answers are
usually impossible. Perhaps this happenstance has been created more by the diversity
of the mass media than by any unwillingness of journalists to come to grips with
ethics. Thus, it is not surprising that, according to one study, codes apparently do not
have a direct impact on journalists' decisions.
Survey Says Too Few Understand Constitution, Lexington ( Ky.) Herald-Leader (Associated Press), February
15, 1987, at A6, col. 1.
More than 1,000 people were interviewed via telephone in October and November 1986. The margin
of error was plus or minus 3.2%.
Unpublished poll provided to author by the center director.
Majority Favor Regulating Journalists, New Poll Says, Lexington ( Ky.) Herald-Leader (Associated Press), December 15, 1996, at A6, col. 1.
The official name of the Supreme Court is "Supreme Court of the United States". To save space and
make for easier reading, the generic name, "U.S. Supreme Court", is used throughout the textbook,
but be aware that this is not the official name.
Clinton v. City of New York ( 1998). [CITES NOT YET AVAILABLE]
DeBenedictis, 27th Amendment Ratified, 78 A.B.A. J. 26 ( August 1992).
Preemption is a U.S. Supreme Court doctrine derived from the supremacy clause of Article VI of the
U.S. Constitution, which reads: This Constitution and the Laws of the United States which shall be
made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the
United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound
thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137, 2 L.Ed. 60, 5 Cranch 137 ( 1803).
BLACK'S LAW DICTIONARY 43 ( 5th ed. 1979).
An excellent resource on how to conduct legal research is
Christopher G. and
Jill Robinson Wren
second edition of THE LEGAL RESEARCH MANUAL: A GAME PLAN FOR LEGAL RESEARCH AND
ANALYSIS ( 2nd ed.) ( Madison, Wisc.: Adam & Ambrose Publishing, 1986). This very comprehensive
text covers in clear detail how to gather and analyze facts, identify and organize legal issues, find the
law, update the law, and even conduct computerized legal research. For information on how to use
electronic databases such as
WESTLAW, see USING COMPUTERS IN LEGAL RESEARCH: A
WESTLAW ( 1994) by the same authors and publisher.
BLACK'S LAW DICTIONARY, 484-485.
In Ross v. Bernhard, 396 U.S. 531, 90 S.Ct. 733, 24 L.Ed.2d 729 ( 1970), the U.S. Supreme Court held
that a jury trial is required under the Seventh Amendment when the underlying nature of the issue
at hand is one of law. Earlier ( 1959) the court ruled, in Beacon Theatres, Inc. v. Westover, 359 U.S. 500,
79 S.Ct. 948, 3 L.Ed.2d 988, that when there is a legal issue that involves both relief at law and in
equity, the legal issue must be tried first with a jury before the judge can decide the equitable issue.
Foundation Press ( 2nd ed. 1974).
Foundation Press ( 1989).