DePaul University College of Communication > Faculty & Staff > Faculty Focus > Faculty Focus: Jason Martin Cited in Legal Ruling on Free Speech

Faculty Focus: Jason Martin Cited in Legal Ruling on Free Speech

An article co-authored by Assistant Professor Jason Martin was cited in a recent Indiana Court of Appeals decision. Released on Feb. 21, In re: Indiana Newspapers Inc. reversed a Marion Circuit Court order requiring the Indianapolis Star to surrender identifying information about a person who commented anonymously on a story published on the Star’s website.

The article by Martin, Mark Caramanica, a PhD candidate at the University of Florida, and Indiana University Associate Professor Anthony Fargo, “Anonymous Speakers and Confidential Sources: Using Shield Laws When They Overlap Online,” [log in to DePaul library website first to access at preceding link] was published in the Winter 2011 edition of Communication Law and Policy. The article analyzed how state and federal courts had balanced the First Amendment right to speak anonymously with the needs of libel plaintiffs, prosecutors, and others to learn the identities of commenters who posted on media and non-media websites. The article is currently one of the most-read articles in the Communication Law and Policy journal, the official media law and policy journal of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

The Indiana appellate court ruled that the trial judge should have considered whether the Star’s anonymous commenter was protected by a test various courts around the country have used to weigh the right to anonymity versus the right to protect reputation. However, the court rejected the Star’s argument that the information was protected by the Indiana shield law, which protects news organizations in the state from being forced to identify confidential news sources.

Document: Indiana Court of Appeals ruling.pdf