476 U.S. 1187 (1986), 85-1593, Coughlin v. Westinghouse Broadcasting And Cable, Inc.

Docket Nº:No. 85-1593
Citation:476 U.S. 1187, 106 S.Ct. 2927, 91 L.Ed.2d 554
Party Name:James COUGHLIN et ux. v. WESTINGHOUSE BROADCASTING AND CABLE, INC.
Case Date:June 16, 1986
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 1187

476 U.S. 1187 (1986)

106 S.Ct. 2927, 91 L.Ed.2d 554

James COUGHLIN et ux.

v.

WESTINGHOUSE BROADCASTING AND CABLE, INC.

No. 85-1593

United States Supreme Court.

June 16, 1986

OPINION

On petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Chief Justice BURGER, with whom Justice REHNQUIST joins, dissenting.

In Dun & Bradstreet, Inc. v. Greenmoss Builders, Inc., 472 U.S. 749, 764, 105 S.Ct. 2939, 2948, 86 L.Ed.2d 593 (1985) (BURGER, C.J., concurring in judgment), I wrote to express my agreement with Justice WHITE that New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 84 S.Ct. 710, 11 L.Ed.2d 686 (1964) should be reexamined. Petitioners in this petition ask this Court for such a reconsideration. I dissent from the Court's refusal to grant certiorari and give plenary attention to this important issue.

Respondent conducted an investigation into the alleged failure of Philadelphia police to enforce state liquor laws against an "after hours" bar. In the course of that investigation, they hid a camera across the street from the bar and videotaped police officers entering and leaving the bar. Respondent ultimately broadcast a videotape of petitioner leaving a bar on October 11, 1981. The videotape stated that "the only paperwork we saw [petitioner] doing was carrying this envelope out of the Club less than a minute after he went in." A freeze frame with a circle around an object in petitioner's hand was used to emphasize the point. The announcer went on to say that the officer had difficulty finding the proper key to start his patrol car and that he was not wearing his uniform jacket or hat, "all standard items officers on patrol are required to have." The clear implication of the broadcast was that petitioner had accepted a bribe. Respondent made no attempt to obtain petitioner's explanation for these events other than an "ambush" interview four months after the fact. In this "interview," a reporter for respondent approached petitioner with cameras whirling as he came off of his all-night shift and [106 S.Ct. 2928] asked what he had been doing four months earlier on the night of October 11, 1981. Petitioner said "this here is harassment" and declined to answer questions at that time.

Petitioner and his wife filed a libel suit in District Court...

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