315 F.3d 256 (4th Cir. 2002), 01-2340, Young v. New Haven Advocate

Docket Nº:01-2340.
Citation:315 F.3d 256
Party Name:Stanley K. YOUNG, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. NEW HAVEN ADVOCATE; Gail Thompson; Camille Jackson; Hartford Courant; Brian Toolan; Amy Pagnozzi, Defendants-Appellants, and Michael Lawlor; Carolyn Nah; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Connecticut Post; Rick Sawyers; Ken Dixon, Defendants. Advance Publications, Incorporated; Amer
Case Date:December 13, 2002
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
 
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315 F.3d 256 (4th Cir. 2002)

Stanley K. YOUNG, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

NEW HAVEN ADVOCATE; Gail Thompson; Camille Jackson; Hartford Courant; Brian Toolan; Amy Pagnozzi, Defendants-Appellants,

and

Michael Lawlor; Carolyn Nah; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Connecticut Post; Rick Sawyers; Ken Dixon, Defendants.

Advance Publications, Incorporated; American Society of Newspaper Editors; Associated Press; Association of Alternative Newsweeklies; Belo Corporation; Bloomberg, L.P.; Center for Democracy & Technology; Daily News, L.P.; Dow Jones and Company, Incorporated; El Dia, Incorporated; the E.W. Scripps Company; the Hearst Corporation; Investigative Reporters and Editors, Incorporated;

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Magazine Publishers of America; the McClatchy Company; National Association of Broadcasters; Newsletter & Electronic Publishers Association; Newspaper Association of America; the New York Times; Online News Association; the Radio-Television News Directors Association; the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press; Society of Professional Journalists; Village Voice Media, Incorporated; the Washington Post Company; Ziff Davis Media, Incorporated, Amici Supporting Appellants.

No. 01-2340.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

December 13, 2002

Argued June 3, 2002.

Page 258

ARGUED:

Robert Douglass Lystad, Baker & Hostetler, L.L.P., Washington, D.C., for Appellants.

Robert Stuart Collins, Fleming & Collins, P.C., Norton, Virginia, for Appellee.

ON BRIEF:

Bruce W. Sanford, Bruce D. Brown, Baker & Hostetler, L.L.P., Washington, D.C.; Wade W. Massie, Penn, Stuart & Eskridge, Abington, Virginia; Stephanie S. Abrutyn, Tribune Company, New York, New York, for Appellants.

Robert M. O'Neil, Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, Charlottesville, Virginia; George Rutherglen, University of Virginia Law School, Charlottesville, Virginia, for Amici Curiae.

Before MICHAEL and GREGORY, Circuit Judges, and Bobby R. BALDOCK, Senior Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, sitting by designation.

Reversed by published opinion. Judge MICHAEL wrote the opinion, in which Judge GREGORY and Senior Judge BALDOCK joined.

OPINION

MICHAEL, Circuit Judge.

The question in this appeal is whether two Connecticut newspapers and certain of their staff (sometimes, the "newspaper defendants") subjected themselves to personal jurisdiction in Virginia by posting on the Internet news articles that, in the context of discussing the State of Connecticut's policy of housing its prisoners in Virginia institutions, allegedly defamed the warden of a Virginia prison. Our recent decision in ALS Scan, Inc. v. Digital Service Consultants, Inc., 293 F.3d 707 (4th Cir. 2002), supplies the standard for determining a court's authority to exercise personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state person who places information on the Internet. Applying that standard, we hold that a court in Virginia cannot constitutionally exercise jurisdiction over the Connecticut-based newspaper defendants because they did

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not manifest an intent to aim their websites or the posted articles at a Virginia audience. Accordingly, we reverse the district court's order denying the defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.

I.

Sometime in the late 1990s the State of Connecticut was faced with substantial overcrowding in its maximum security prisons. To alleviate the problem, Connecticut contracted with the Commonwealth of Virginia to house Connecticut prisoners in Virginia's correctional facilities. Beginning in late 1999 Connecticut transferred about 500 prisoners, mostly African-American and Hispanic, to the Wallens Ridge State Prison, a "supermax" facility in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. The plaintiff, Stanley Young, is the warden at Wallens Ridge. Connecticut's arrangement to incarcerate a sizeable number of its offenders in Virginia prisons provoked considerable public debate in Connecticut. Several Connecticut legislators openly criticized the policy, and there were demonstrations against it at the state capitol in Hartford.

Connecticut newspapers, including defendants the New Haven Advocate (the Advocate) and the Hartford Courant (the Courant), began reporting on the controversy. On March 30, 2000, the Advocate published a news article, written by one of its reporters, defendant Camille Jackson, about the transfer of Connecticut inmates to Wallens Ridge. The article discussed the allegedly harsh conditions at the Virginia prison and pointed out that the long trip to southwestern Virginia made visits by prisoners' families difficult or impossible. In the middle of her lengthy article, Jackson mentioned a class action that inmates transferred from Connecticut had filed against Warden Young and the Connecticut Commissioner of Corrections. The inmates alleged a lack of proper hygiene and medical care and the denial of religious privileges at Wallens Ridge. Finally, a paragraph at the end of the article reported that a Connecticut state senator had expressed concern about the presence of Confederate Civil War memorabilia in Warden Young's office. At about the same time the Courant published three columns, written by defendant-reporter Amy Pagnozzi, questioning the practice of relocating Connecticut inmates to Virginia prisons. The columns reported on letters written home by inmates who alleged cruelty by prison guards. In one column Pagnozzi called Wallens Ridge a "cut-rate gulag." Warden Young was not mentioned in...

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