TEST – Prior Restraint and Libel (Two weeks from today)
Sample libel hypothetical
Answer questions 24 to 29 based on these facts:
On August 25, 2006,
a daily newspaper that circulates throughout
eastern North Carolina, published a front-page story that reported the shooting of a Smithfield,
The headline was:
"Abortion Doc Shot in Home."
The story said:
Dr. Ann Smith, an obstetrician with a practice in Smithfield, returned
home from synagogue Friday night with her husband, Ben, and greeted her four
Then she stepped into her kitchen, where a sniper's bullet crashed through
a back window and struck her in the chest, a police report said.
She fell to the floor, calling for help, and then was taken to Smithfield
Memorial Hospital where she is in guarded condition, the report said.
Smith is one of only two doctors who provide abortions in the Smithfield
area, said a police office directing traffic in front of Smith's home after the
He said her attack was an
an annual pattern of anti-
abortion violence in Canada and the United States.
Smith's medical practice had
endured years of "well-deserved" picketing and harassment, and earlier on Friday
Smith reported to police that she had received a warning about possible attacks
against her, the police officer said.
Three doctors have been killed in the United Sates in abortion-related
attacks since 1993.
Dr. Betty Jones, another abortion provider from Smithfield, said of
"She is a terrific, caring person.
I don't know why these Smithfield right-
to-lifers didn't understand that."
Two weeks after the story appeared in print, Smith sued for libel per se, seeking actual
and special damages totaling $15 million.
Smith said the story was false and defamatory.
said that although she had been shot, she had never performed an abortion.
She said another
physician in her group practice performed abortions, but she did not.