From Mike Hiestand, Staff Attorney, Student Press Law Center Re: Kincaid v. Gibson

We have received a number of requests over the past week for updates regarding the status of Kincaid v. Gibson, Civ. No. 95-98 (E.D. Ky. Nov. 14, 1997), the Kentucky federal court decision that — citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier — upheld the confiscation of student yearbooks at Kentucky State University by school officials.

The opinion, written by Judge Joseph M. Hood, is the first time a court has used the Hazelwood decision to uphold the censorship of a college student publication. If allowed to stand, the decision would pose a grave threat to the First Amendment protection now enjoyed by public college student media.

In late November 1997, the attorney for the students filed a motion with Judge Hood to alter, amend or vacate his decision. If the motion is denied, the decision will be appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. To date, however, no ruling has been issued on the motion — a development that has surprised many of us. The judge has apparently asked the parties to work out their differences prior to his decision. While we do not know when a ruling will be handed down, the students’ attorney has said his guess is that it would be “weeks rather than months.”

Obviously, the moment we have news we will pass it on, including any briefing schedules before the Sixth Circuit, if necessary.

In the meantime, here are some names/numbers for any of you wanting more information:

Judge Joseph M. Hood (to check on the status of the case) (606) 437-7338

Mary Smith, President, Kentucky State University(502) 227-6260

Bruce Orwin, attorney for students (606) 678-4386

We’ve also posted considerable information about the case to our Web site: