Two interesting new opinions

McCafferty v. Newsweek Media Gp—civil / First Amendment speech—Bibas—affirmance

After a 12 year-old boy voiced his support for President Trump in an online video, print media interviews, and TV appearances, Newsweek magazine published an article sharply critical of the boy and others like him, describing them as “Trump’s Mini-Mes” and “defending raw racism and sexual abuse.” The boy’s parents sued Newsweek, alleging it defamed the boy and cast him in a false light. The district court granted the magazine’s motion to dismiss, and today the Third Circuit affirmed:

the article contained derogatory opinions based only on disclosed facts, which are not enough to show defamation or false light. Even if they could, C.M. does not plead facts showing actual malice, which the First Amendment requires of those who step into the political spotlight.

Joining Bibas were Ambro and Krause. The case was decided without oral argument.


US v. Tyler—criminal—reversal—Shwartz

The Third Circuit today reversed a district court’s ruling setting aside a criminal conviction on sufficiency-of-the-evidence grounds:

Because (1) the District Court erred in ruling that Fowler v. United States, 563 U.S. 668 (2011), applies only to situations where a defendant does not know the identity of a specific law enforcement officer to whom the witness would have communicated; and (2) there was sufficient evidence upon which a rational juror could conclude that (a) Tyler acted with intent to prevent Proctor from communicating with law enforcement, and (b) there was a “reasonable likelihood” that she would have communicated with a qualifying law enforcement officer had she not been murdered, we will reverse and direct the District Court to reinstate the verdict and proceed to sentencing.

Judge Rendell dissented, beginning, strikingly,:

I disagree with the Majority on one essential issue— Willie Tyler’s intent. Judge Jones, an experienced trial judge, vacated the jury’s verdict based on this issue, concluding that it was mere speculation that Willie acted with the intent to prevent Proctor from communicating with law enforcement. I was initially skeptical that this rejection of the jury’s verdict was warranted, but upon further reflection have come to believe that it was entirely correct.

Joining Shwartz was Scirica, with Rendell dissenting in part. Arguing counsel were Carlo Marchioli for the government and Quin Sorenson for the defendant.