Ch. 5, Phil Williams appeal false light ruling back to appeals court

Friday, August 10, 2012 at 3:15pm

Attorneys for WTVF-5 and investigative reporter Phil Williams filed a petition for a re-hearing in front of the state Court of Appeals regarding General Sessions judge Dan Eisenstein's case against them.

The de facto appeal of the appeal comes after the COA ruled that Williams may have been guilty of presenting Eisenstein in a false light in two stories — and remanded the case back to Davidson County Circuit Court.

Not so fast, said NewsChannel 5's attorneys.

The petition for re-hearing points out what they believe to be several misinterpretations of law in the appeals court decision.

Neal & Harwell attorney Ronald Harris argued that Williams can't be guilty of false light claims because the facts reported in the news stories were true — which the COA acknowledged in their opinion.

The filing claims that case law and U.S. Court of Appeals rulings have determined that a false statement is an “essential element” of false light.

The petition also accuses the Court of Appeals decision of “conflicting with constitutional rights,” including freedom of speech.

“The Supreme Court has determined that the constitutional guarantees of speech and press limit a court's power to award damages in a defamation suit brought by a public official against critics
of his official conduct,” the filing read.

The petition will be reviewed by Court of Appeals judges — at which point they may grant reversal of the previous opinion, request further information or deny the petition.

3 Comments on this post:

By: Shadow63 on 8/10/12 at 3:07

A lawsuit by a judge, against a critic of a judge, judged by a judge .
Gee, I wonder how this will go.

By: govskeptic on 8/10/12 at 6:03

If the opinion rendered by the Court of Appeals was a bone thrown to
General Sessions Judge Eisenstein, then it was a mistake. The
Appeals Court is surely aware of more than just he makes conflict
of interest and too many friendship decisions often in this state.

Phil William's reports rarely have judgmental remarks in them, which
is sometimes frustrating to this viewer since I would trust his
conclusions more than 100's of other reporters! Keep it up Mr. Williams!

By: sonny1024 on 8/11/12 at 10:24

I am confused about something that sounds very important to MR. WILLIAMS his attorneys and the courts. ITS seems that this right of free speech that some people have and some don't is at the heart of this matter and I don't understand why all the fuss over something that is only granted to a certain group of people when I no from experiences that my free speech and some other citizens is what we are given not what is guaranteed to my question is IF MR. Williams wins in court does that mean that free speech is still just for a certain group of people or does it mean that what little we are given now will be completely taken away ? IF someone has the answer please post it on here it could mean going to jail or not because what free speech we have is very little and we don't want to violate police rules and say something that we are not allowed to say.