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Fla. appeals court sides with TV station in document dispute

By The Associated Press
10.09.07

ORLANDO, Fla. — A state appeals court has overturned a decision that restricted what an Orlando television station could broadcast about documents belonging to a political consultant.

The Florida 5th District Court of Appeal ruled on Oct. 4 that Doug Guetzloe failed to prove that his privacy concerns about the contents of the documents should trump WKMG-TV's First Amendment rights.

Guetzloe, who was at the center of an election-law scandal, said he'll request a rehearing and appeal the decision in Post-Newsweek v. Guetzloe.

"This is one battle in a long, drawn-out war," he said.

Earlier this year, a lower court barred the station from airing any reports from the documents, then later scaled back that restriction to Guetzloe's medical records and communications with attorneys. The appeals court reversed that order.

Guetzloe was found to have violated campaign-disclosure laws relating to an attack ad on a suburban candidate for mayor in 2003. Several other election-violation charges against him were dropped after he appealed.

The television station said it received the documents from a man who bought them for $10 at auction after Guetzloe failed to pay his rent at a self-storage unit where they had been kept.

“We are very happy with the ruling,” Jack Kirschenbaum, an attorney for WKMG, told the First Amendent Center Online. “It clarifies and enhances the law in Florida with regards to prior restraint. I don’t think it changed the law, but made it much clearer and helpful from a First Amendment standpoint.”


Previous
Prior restraint lifted from Orlando's WKMG-TV
By Melanie Bengtson Repealing his previous order, judge gives go-ahead to station, which begins airing its series on election-law scandal based on auctioned documents. 02.15.07

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