Marc Randazza on Steubenville Rape, Defamation, and the Limits to Free Speech

"The law needs to look at journalism as a thing you do, not journalists as a thing you are," says First Amendment attorney Marc Randazza.

Randazza, who runs the law blog The Legal Satyricon, was a consulting attorney on the headline-grabbing Steubenville, Ohio rape case, in which a local blogger posted and commented upon photographs that seemingly implicated several of the town's high school football players in a gang rape. When the blogger subsequently was sued for defamation by one of the players, Randazza helped with her defense. 

Reason TV's Zach Weissmueller sat down with Randazza to discuss the case, as well as broader questions of defamation, the limits of free speech, and the changing legal definitions of "press" and "journalism."

Approximately 9 minutes.

Camera by Sharif Matar and Paul Detrick. Edited by Zach Weissmueller. Music by M-PeX (

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  • Eduard van Haalen||

    The guy suggests Florida doesn't have an anti-SLAPP law. What, then, do you call this:

  • Way Of The Crane||

    Florida has two narrow anti-SLAPP statutes, but neither is likely to protect bloggers and non-traditional journalists engaging in online publishing activities. Fla. Stat. § 768.295 protects against SLAPPs brought by government entities in retaliation for exercising one's right to petition the government. Fla. Stat. § 720.304 protects a homeowner's right to petition the government when acting to "address matters concerning [his or her] homeowners' association."

    If you had actually read the first paragraph of the page you linked to, you'd realize that FL's anti-SLAPP statutes do not apply to situation such as the rape case. They only pertain to SLAPPs brought on by the Government and matters dealing with Home Owners Associations.

  • Marc J. Randazza||

    Correct. And, as far as I know, 768.295 is so narrow that it has never been successfully used. 720.304(4) has only been used once, successfully, in its history - in Veranda Partners v. Giles.

    And, even that, (as much as I like the kind words that CMLP had to say about me) was not all that impressive, since the plaintiff defaulted in the case.

    So, not only is Florida's anti-slapp regime too narrow to protect bloggers or journalists, but it really is too narrow to protect anyone.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    OK, so it's not "no anti-Slapp statute" but "an inadequate anti-SLAPP statute."

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    On the video, Randazza says:

    "In states like Florida, where there is no anti-SLAPP statute..."

    So you're moving the goalposts.

  • Cyto||

    There's a fair chance that the FL anti-SLAPP statutes are really designed as cover bills for legislators to prevent the implementation of an actual anti-SLAPP statute.

    So instead of an anti-SLAPP statute, FL has an anti-anti-SLAPP statute. Does that put the goalposts back in place?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    It's still not what the guy said, but technically it's not a big deal. I didn't want to denigrate his good work, simply to fulfill the Reason tradition of nitpicking.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    I was promised full text and didn't get it.

    I really don't get the point of these interviews being videoed rather than just doing the text like the old days. Seeing two alternating talking heads interspersed with footage I've already seen isn't helpful.

  • Way Of The Crane||

    I really don't get the point of these interviews being videoed rather than just doing the text like the old days. Seeing two alternating talking heads interspersed with footage I've already seen isn't helpful.

    The "New Media" sux. I can read a lot faster than these people can speak,and in order to understand the piece, I have to rely on their ability to speak clearly as opposed to my ability to read. This frustration is compounded by the fact that I can't skim through the video the same way you can skim text and back tracking to review what has been said can be a pain in the ass.

  • entropy||

    Not only that but I have no speakers on this computer.

    Isn't that a violation of ADA requirements? I'll sue!

  • Sudden||

    Hmmm... Warty is from Ohio. Steubenville is in Ohio. Warty has questionable sexual proclivities and is less concerned with consent than STEVE SMITH. The Steubenville case involves a lack of consent being given in the course of a alcohol-induced pass out sexual violation.

    I would accuse Warty of being one of the assailants, however the legs of the perps clearly lacked both the trademark cutting of Warty as well as the copious amounts of Epi's pubes that he super glues onto them in a sort of sick ritual. I also would've expected to see his tophat and monocle on the ground by the victim, but he may very well have left it on waiting for a headshot to be posted on the front page of jezebel.

  • ||

    Those rapists are Negro chaps, and I'm too scared of Negroes to do any raping when they're around.

  • Renfred43||

    like Frank responded I am taken by surprise that a person can make $9582 in 1 month on the internet. did you look at this website http://www.FLY38.COM

  • Sumflow||

    Dean Martin, I thought Steubenville was known as the home of Tracy Lords?

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  • دردشة بغدادية||

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