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Fall 2008 closed memo assignment obama v. new yorker magazine right of publicity (n z)
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Fall 2008 closed memo assignment obama v. new yorker magazine right of publicity (n z)

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  • 1. Professor GoeringLARW I and II, Section A3 MEMORANDUMTO: Junior Associates (N-Z)FROM: Senior Partner Goering and Senior Associate MuirRE: Obama v. New Yorker MagazineDATE: September 9, 2008 New Yorker Magazine’s general counsel has consulted our firm about a possiblelawsuit. As you may recall from the news a couple of months ago, the New Yorkerpublished a controversial magazine cover depicting Mr. and Mrs. Barack Obama. Foryour information, I have attached a color copy of the magazine cover. For a CBS newsstory that aired on television shortly after our client published the issue, seehttp://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/07/14/politics/politico/main4257077.shtml. The New Yorker Magazine is published on Manhattan Island, New York.However, the publisher, Conde Nast, has headquarters in both New York City andChicago. Because the Obamas reside in Illinois and the New Yorker is distributed onnews stands there, they plan to file the lawsuit in Illinois. You may assume for ourpurposes that the Obamas will file in Chicago, although we do not yet know whether theywill file in state district court or file a diversity action in federal district court. Eitherway, please assume that the court will apply Illinois law. As you know, by July 2008, Barack Obama was the National Democratic Party’spresumptive nominee for President of the United States. Michelle is his wife. Bothgraduated from Harvard Law School, and both are experienced lawyers. Most recently,Michelle has been a hospital executive in Chicago. Barack has practiced civil rights lawand has taught part-time at the University of Chicago. Michelle and Barack Obama areboth fine, upstanding, loyal American citizens, and neither has ever been charged withcriminal conduct of any kind. They are both Christians, and neither has ever beenaffiliated with any terrorist organization. The Obamas’ counsel claims they haveevidence to prove these facts at trial, including the fact that Mr. Obama has never been aMuslim. The Obamas have threatened to sue the New Yorker magazine for defamation,and they will seek money damages. Our client wants to know if either Michelle orBarack Obama has a viable claim for defamation. Please research the issue. You willwant to consider not only the elements of defamation, but also whether our client can relyon the First Amendment or any other privilege to shield it from liability from either orboth plaintiffs. Please summarize the results of your research in a 5-7 page, double-spaced office memorandum in 12-point Times New Roman font. Please consult yourlegal writing textbook for the specific format and organization of your memo.
  • 2. Professor GoeringLARW I and II, Section A3 All of the relevant cases and other research materials you may use are attached.PLEASE DO NOT RESEARCH ANY OTHER MATERIALS THAN THOSE I HAVEPROVIDED TO YOU. However, you may consult a legal dictionary for definitions oflegal terms that are unfamiliar to you. You may rely on your general knowledge of theevents surrounding the ongoing political campaign for President. You may discuss the assignment with any of your first-year law school classmatesin this section. However, it is a violation of the Honor Code to show your written workto anyone except me or Jared Muir, my senior associate. Please review the attachedguidelines regarding the Honor Code. If you have any questions about whether certainconduct violates the Honor Code, you are expected to consult Jared or me for guidance. Please consult the course syllabus for instructions on submitting your officememo on or before September 25, 2008, at 5:00 p.m. My next interview with the NewYorker’s general counsel is on September 30, so I would like to review the results of yourresearch well in advance of that date.Attachments: • New Yorker Magazine Cover, July 21, 2008 • Honor Code Guidelines for Graded Memos and BriefsResearch Materials: • Bell v. Natl. Republican Cong. Comm., 187 F. Supp. 2d 605 (S.D. W. Va. 2002). • Celebrezze v. Dayton Newsps., Inc., 535 N.E.2d 755 (Ohio App. 8th Dist. 1988). • Homerin v. Mid-Ill. Newsps., 614 N.E.2d 496 (Ill. App. 3d Dist. 1993). • Hustler Mag. v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46 (1988). • Leidholdt v. L.F.P. Inc., 860 F.2d 890 (9th Cir. 1988). • Seith v. Chi. Sun-Times, Inc., 861 N.E.2d 1117 (Ill. App. 1st Dist. 2007). • Victoria Square, LLC v. Glastonbury Citizen, 891 A.2d 142 (Conn. Super. 2006). • Restatement (Second) of Torts § 558 (1977).
  • 3. Professor GoeringLARW I and II, Section A3
  • 4. Professor GoeringLARW I and II, Section A3 Honor Code Guidelines for Graded Memos and Briefs Legal Analysis, Research, and Writing I and IIQ: Who is allowed to see my memo or brief?A: You may not show your memo or brief to anyone except me and Jared Muir, my teaching assistant. Please understand that this requirement is indeed as limited as it sounds. You may not show your paper to your spouse, sweetheart, best friend, mother, significant other, or anyone else, even "just to proofread" or "just to see what she thinks." This applies even if youve "always had so-and-so proofread all my papers."Q: With whom may I research and discuss my memo or brief problem?A: You may research and discuss your memo and brief problems only with fellow members of the A3 Section, Washburn Law School librarians, Jared Muir, or me. Reading your memo or brief to another individual is not discussion and is not allowed. Please understand that this requirement is, again, as limited as it sounds. This means you may not discuss your problem or your paper with students from other classes or other LARW sections, with mentors, with tutors, with attorneys, with other professors, with parents, with siblings, or with any of your friends who are not Section A3 students.Q: What should I do if I have a question on what is permissible and what is not?A: Ask me in class, come see me, e-mail me, phone me, or drop a note in my mailbox in Room 203. You must check with me before doing anything else.Q: How long do these restrictions last for any particular assignment?A: Until I announce in class that they are lifted.
  • 5. Professor GoeringLARW I and II, Section A3Q: What should I do if I know that somebody is violating these rules?A: Under the Honor Code, you have a responsibility to come to me with names and details, so that I can begin an investigation. I will vigorously pursue an investigation of any violation for which I have evidence. However, please understand that I can do nothing with rumor or innuendo.Q: So, is cheating a common problem?A: No, it is not. It is rare, in my experience both as a student and a professor. Most students who are intelligent and disciplined enough to get into law school don’t need any rules at all, because they abide by the simple rule that it is unfair to do anything on a graded assignment that would give them an unfair advantage over fellow law students. But cheating has happened before, and therefore I am spelling out the rules to assure you that anyone who breaks these rules is either too ignorant or too unethical to belong in the legal profession.Q: Dont these restrictions defeat some educational benefits?A: Yes, indeed, they do. In legal practice, it is beneficial to talk about a memo or brief problem with anyone you think may be able to help, subject to your ethical duty to keep your client communications confidential. But law school is not "real life." Requiring you to write a memo and a brief entirely on your own is intended to be of great benefit to you, but that is not the only purpose. The other purpose of graded assignments is to test your ability to apply legal research, analysis, and writing skills you learn through reading, exercises, and class discussion. So, in the weeks to come, please remember: THIS IS A TEST.

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