State of Florida v. Globe Communications Corp.

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Date: 1994

Region: North America

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium:Print Journalism


Artist: A Boca Raton tabloid

Confronting Bodies: Florida State Government

Dates of Action: 1991

Location: Boca Raton, Florida

Description of Artwork: The Boca Raton tabloid published the name of Patricia Bowman shortly after she accused William Kennedy Smith of rape in 1991.

The Incident: A Florida State Appeals court ruled the tabloid could not be persecuted for publishing the rape victim's name. The court ruled that a 1911 law making it a crime to publish or broadcast the names of rape victims violates the First Amendment. The Fourth District Court of Appeals in West Palm Beach conceded that the concerns about victims safety from retaliation and the need to encourage the reporting of sex offenses were legitimate, but did not justify censorship.

Results of Incident: The ruling was based largely on a 1989 U.S. Supreme Court decision involving the Florida Star, a Jacksonville newspaper that was sued for libel after it inadvertently published a rape victim's name Florida Star v. B.J.F.. The Supreme Court threw out a $100,000 judgment again.

Source: Office for Intellectual Freedom, American Library Association