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Real-Life Scenarios to Launch Talk at CGR Symposium on Privacy Law

Published: January 16th, 2007

Category: Feature, News

Real-life scenarios will serve as launching points for discussion at the First Annual Center for Governmental Responsibility Symposium, “Privacy Law: Perspectives of National Security, the First Amendment, the Media, and the Individual,” on Tuesday, Jan. 23, noon-1:30 p.m., in the Chesterfield Smith Ceremonial Classroom (Holland Hall Room 180).

Speakers include Mike Foley, master lecturer, Hugh Cunningham Professor in Journalism Excellence, College of Journalism & Communications, University of Florida; Gregg D. Thomas, Thomas & LoCicero, Tampa; Judge Jacqueline Griffin, Fifth District Court of Appeals of Florida; Judge Anne C. Conway, U.S. District Judge for the Middle District of Florida; and Fletcher N. Baldwin, Jr., Chesterfield Smith Professor of Law, director, Centre for International Financial Crime Studies. Jon Mills, dean emeritus, professor of law, Levin College of Law, and founding director, Center for Governmental Responsibility, will serve as moderator for the discussion.

“This is a contemporary point of conflict in the United States,” said Mills, who has studied privacy issues and been involved in legal cases in this area during his career.

Some of the proposed scenarios to be discussed at the event include:

• A 1999 Mississippi case, Plaxico v. Michael, in which an expectation of privacy in the seclusion of one’s own bedroom was not considered reasonable when the individual was involved in a lesbian relationship and in a child custody fight with her husband.

• A female president of a college’s student association sued a newspaper for invasion of privacy by public discourse of private facts when a columnist disclosed that she was actually a man. The newspaper argued that the publication was newsworthy and protected by the First Amendment. The jury found for the plaintiff.

• The case of a medical examiner who allowed a cable network film crew to follow him to a hotel room where a woman had been thrown to her death from the balcony by her husband, who then died when he fell or jumped. The film crew recorded the crime scene, including the woman’s dead body, and the next morning shot photos of the nude bodies. The parents and sister of the dead woman sued the network, the parties associated with the program, and the medical examiner’s office.

• In December, President George W. Bush issued a “presidential signing statement” related to a Postal Service bill, which said a subsection of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act “provides for opening an item of a class of mail otherwise sealed against inspection.” The statement said the administration had the right to “conduct searches in exigent circumstances” such as to protect human life and safety against hazardous materials, and the need for physical searches specifically authorized by law for foreign intelligence collection.”

A reception will follow the symposium at 1:30 p.m. in the Faculty Dining Room, Bruton-Geer Hall. UF Law

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