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UNC Center for Media Law and Policy

Center to Hire Media Law and Policy Fellow

UNCI’m excited to announce that the Center will be hiring a Media Law and Policy Fellow!  The fellow will play a critical role in supporting a major research initiative at the Center focused on examining various legal and policy issues related to improving government transparency, including the impact government transparency can have on privacy, cybersecurity, equality, and other important interests.

This is a two-year position with a possible renewal for a third year. The salary is $47,476 annually and is accompanied by the standard UNC benefits package and health care insurance for postdoctoral research scholars.

Applicants must hold a J.D. or a Ph.D. We will give preference to applicants with demonstrated interest in the Center’s areas of focus, including journalism, First Amendment, government transparency, and privacy. Applicants should also have experience working with students, organizing events, and managing complex projects. 

The ideal candidate will have:

  • A J.D. and Ph.D.;
  • Knowledge of and interest in the Center’s work;
  • Excellent research, writing, editing, and analytical skills, including empirical legal research experience;
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills;
  • Experience with program planning, administration, and fundraising; and
  • Experience with website, blog, and social media design and content creation.

Applications will be reviewed beginning immediately and will continue until the position is filled. The successful candidate should be prepared to start no later than July 1, 2017, with a potential commencement date as early as January 1, 2017.  

For more information on the position as well as instructions on how to apply, please visit the official position posting on the University of North Carolina’s human resources site, available at: https://unc.peopleadmin.com/postings/108165. You can download a PDF version of the job posting here.

Questions about the position should be directed to medialaw[at]unc.edu.

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Media Law Center Welcomes Prof. Papandrea and a new Ph.D. Student

A senior scholar and a new Ph.D. student have joined UNC’s community of media law scholars.  The Center for Media Law and Policy is happy to welcome Professor Mary-Rose Papandrea and Ph.D. student Shao Chengyuan.

ProfPapandrea3Mary-Rose Papandrea came to the UNC School of Law this summer from Boston College Law School. Her teaching and research interests include constitutional law, media law, torts, civil procedure, and national security and civil liberties.

After graduating from Yale College and the University of Chicago Law School, Professor Papandrea clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter as well as Hon. Douglas H. Ginsburg of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and Hon. John G. Koeltl of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. She then worked as an associate at Williams & Connolly LLP in Washington, D.C., where she specialized in First Amendment and media law litigation. In addition to spending over a decade at Boston College Law School, Professor Papandrea taught as a visiting professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law, Fordham Law School, Wake Forest Law School, and the University of Paris (Nanterre).

Co-author of the casebook Media and the Law (LexisNexis, 2nd ed. 2014) (with Lee Levine, David Ardia & Dale Cohen), Professor Papandrea has written extensively about government secrecy and national security leaks, the reporter’s privilege, student speech rights, the First Amendment rights of public employees, and the U.S. Supreme Court and technology.

Professor Papandrea has also served as the chair of the American Association of Law School’s Mass Media Law and National Security Law sections and remains on the executive committee of both sections. She is currently a member of the editorial board for the Journal of National Security Law & Policy. In addition, she has served on the board of directors for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts.

ShaoShao Chengyuan came to the UNC School of Media and Journalism from Beijing, China. She earned a master’s in communication from Beijing Foreign Studies University and a bachelor’s in English from China Agricultural University in Beijing. She has been studying media law issues in China, specifically new media-related legislation and the legal boundaries of online free speech. She also has worked as a television news producer for Spanish TV Etib’s Beijing Bureau. Her research interests include Internet policy and governance, freedom of expression, online anonymity, and government information publicity. She is planning to conduct comparative media law research.

 

 

 

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Tori Ekstrand Named Director of Communications at Center for Media Law and Policy

Tori EkstrandVictoria (Tori) Ekstrand, a Carolina faculty member who teaches and researches media law and has 11 years of public relations experience, has been named director of communications for the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy. Tori is an assistant professor in the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication and has been working with the center since she came to Carolina in 2012.

In her new position with the media law center, Tori will develop strategies for using both traditional and new media to communicate the work of the center and to build our community of media professionals, lawyers, professors, students and others. This work is critical to the success and growth of the center.

You can read more about Dr. Ekstrand here.

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Privacy and Court Records: Online Access and the Loss of Practical Obscurity

CourtRecrodsI’m excited to announce that Professor Anne Klinefelter and I received an award from the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology and Microsoft Corp. to study the extent of private and other sensitive information in court records.  The $43,000 award will go to the Center for Media Law and Policy and the Kathrine R. Everett Law Library at the UNC School of Law to support a team of researchers who will sample and code several hundred briefs and other filings from the North Carolina Supreme Court.

The United States has a long history of providing public trials and open access to court records, both of which are essential if the public is to have faith in the fairness of our courts and justice system.  Over the past two decades, courts across the country have been moving quickly to digitize their records and make them available online. Some courts are doing this work themselves, while others are relying on third parties, such as libraries and other archives, to make public access possible. All, however, are dealing with one central and unavoidable issue: privacy.

Court records contain a number of types of information that could be characterized as private, ranging from social security numbers to the names of minor children involved in sexual abuse. Little work has been done, however, to study how often this information appears in judicial records and the context in which it appears. The lack of empirical data hamstrings court personnel and other archivists who are attempting to balance privacy interests with the public’s right of access, as well as scholars looking to adapt privacy law and First Amendment doctrines to deal with the flood of public records going online.

This research will provide a first-of-its-kind empirical study of the frequency of sensitive and private information in court records.  Although we are hopeful that our study will be valuable to courts and other archivists, we do not plan to recommend that any specific information in these records be redacted. Instead, our aim is to catalog the kinds of sensitive information that are in these records and to examine the context in which the various types of private information appear.  This will help policymakers and judges better evaluate the potential harm to privacy interests that might arise from the disclosure of private information in court briefs and related records. An examination of term frequency and any discoveries that certain terms are likely to appear when others also appear, may also inform some normative arguments about the “harmfulness” of online access to court records.

This study will also add much needed detail to the term “private information” as it applies in the context of judicial records. Based on a review of the laws that apply to court records as well as other privacy laws and scholarship, we have identified more than 139 types of sensitive or private information that may exist in these records. It is very unlikely that all of these information types appear with equal frequency. Frequency of appearance may be correlated with case type (e.g., civil vs. criminal), document type (e.g., brief vs. appendix) or time period. This study will allow us to assess, for example, whether criminal cases tend to raise different privacy concerns from civil cases.

Our project was one of six proposals to receive awards from Berkeley and Microsoft. You can read the UNC School of Law’s announcement of the award here.

We will present the results of this research at the 2015 Berkeley Technology Law Journal Spring Symposium, “The Privacy, Security, Human Rights and Civil Rights Implications of Releasing Government Datasets,” on April 17.  Look for more posts about our study over the next few months.

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True Threats and Free Speech

The extent to which the First Amendment protects threatening messages on Facebook and elsewhere will be the subject of a panel discussion at the UNC School of Law at noon on Monday, Jan. 26.

Co-sponsored by the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy, the discussion will focus on Elonis v. United States, a case recently argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. You can read more about the event here.

One of the panelists will be UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication Ph.D. student Brooks Fuller, who recently had an article about threatening Internet messages and the First Amendment published in the Hastings Communication & Entertainment Law Journal. The citation is: P. Brooks Fuller, Evaluating Intent in True Threats Cases: The Importance of Context in Analyzing Threatening Internet Messages, 37 Hastings Comm. & Ent. L. J. 37 (2015).

From the abstract:

Following the Supreme Court’s most recent ruling on the true threats doctrine, Virginia v. Black (2003), significant conflict emerged among the federal circuit courts. The primary issue became whether the First Amendment, as interpreted by the Court in Virginia v. Black, requires a subjective intent standard to be read into all statutes that criminalize true threats, or whether the First Amendment only requires such a statute to require the prosecution to demonstrate that a reasonable person would consider the message to be a true threat. Speakers’ use of social networking websites and Internet forums for the purposes of posting violent and intimidating communications raises significant questions regarding the posture of the true threats doctrine and its application to modern modes of communication. In June 2014, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Elonis v. United States, a true threats case involving posts on Facebook. The defendant, who posted violent messages in the form of rap lyrics and other pop culture references, argued that the trial courts misread Virginia v. Black and violated his First Amendment rights when it failed to instruct the jury to consider his subjective intent in addition to the objective standard. This paper utilizes legal research methods to examine federal courts’ treatment of Internet threats and highlights aspects of Internet speech that are particularly problematic for the true threats doctrine.

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