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Times V. Hill

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Autor:  anton  02 December 2010
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Times, Inc. v Hill

The appellee alleged that Life Magazine, which is owned by Time, reported that a play falsely portrait a sequence of events involving his family*. The article was featured in Life in February of 1955 and made reference to an ordeal of the James Hill family, who were held in their own home by three escaped convicts. There was a book published by Joseph Hayes based on these events and later a play based on the book. The appellee did his best to keep the family from the scope of the media after the incident, and he stressed that the convicts did nothing to harm them. The book and the play represent a heroic family overcoming brutish, violent convicts.

At the trial court, the defense motioned for the complaints to be dismissed, because it was of public interest and did not contain "actual malice." The request was denied, however, and the plaintiff was awarded $50,000 for compensation and $25,000 in punitive damages. The New York Court of Appeals then heard the case to explore the questions of this case and their relation to freedom of speech and the press.

The New York Court found that he was a public figure, though not voluntarily, and did not have the same right to privacy as a non-public figure. They also noted that the events were fictionalized for commercial value in the book and in the play. Accordingly they reversed the decision of the trial court. Hill appealed again, and was successful in getting a Supreme Court trial.

The Supreme Court withheld the judgment of the trial court. Citing that the press must not be immunized from having to pay damages if they print reckless, falsity. They had evidence that the information reported in the Life article was poorly researched and printed with disregard for the truth. Because of this they ruled that Time, Inc. was not under the protection of the First Amendment. They cited New York Times v. Sullivan, but because they had reason to believe that Life knew it was publishing falsity, they ruled that the same protection should not apply.

*"Time, Inc. v. Hill." http://www.law.umkc.edu. 30 Apr. 2007 .



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