SPLC pays tribute to Dick Goehler, longtime friend of the student media and SPLC board chairman


Contact: Beverly Keneagy, 904.626.0017 / bkeneagy@splc.org

Richard M. Goehler, a Cincinnati media-law attorney andChairman of the Student Press Law Center’s Board of Directors, died early todayat age 54 following a 10-month battle with leukemia.

Goehlerhas been an ally to the SPLC and student media for nearly two decades,providing countless hours of free representation to high school and collegejournalists on behalf of the organization. He was a partner with Frost BrownTodd LLC and practiced in media law, including digital, interactive and socialmedia, advertising law, copyright and trademark. He was nationally known as apremier media and First Amendment litigator, and was chairman of the AmericanBar Association’s Section on Communications Law in 2009-10.

“Forthe student media, the loss of Dick Goehler truly is a death in the family.This is someone who was at the very top of his profession, an absolute giant inhis field, who gave unselfishly of his time and talent to make the world abetter place to be a student journalist. He did it out of a pure love for theFirst Amendment, and a belief in the power of student journalism as a force forgood,” said Frank D. LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press LawCenter.

“Ivery well remember the conversation over lunch when Dick first asked me – likehe was asking to marry my daughter – whether it would be ‘okay with me’ if heput his name up for chairman of our board. And I was just overjoyed and Ithought, ‘no matter what happens to me, I can know that the SPLC is in the bestpossible hands,’” LoMonte said. “One of the great comforts I’ve always had isknowing we had Dick Goehler‘s rock-solid leadership to help get us through thetoughest times. I am beyond words to describe how hard this loss is hitting allof us on the board and staff who have benefited from Dick’s kindness, hiswisdom and his good humor.”

TheStudent Press Law Center (SPLC) is a Washington, D.C.-area nonprofit founded in1974 to advocate for free-press rights for high school and college journalists.It provides legal information and referral assistance at no charge to studentjournalists and the educators who work with them.

Goehlerwas the first lawyer to whom the SPLC referred a case after its AttorneyReferral Network was formed in the 1990s. He represented the SPLC in two of themost noteworthy college censorship cases the SPLC has taken on to date: filingan amicus brief in the Kincaid v. Gibsoncollege censorship case before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals inTennessee; and arguing the Hosty v.Carter case on the SPLC’s behalf before the 7th U.S. Circuit Court ofAppeals in Illinois.

SPLCConsulting Attorney Mike Hiestand, who has known Goehler for nearly 20 years,said: “His work and dedication is being mourned by many in the media community.For nearly two decades he was just about as good a friend to the SPLC andstudent media as we’ve ever had. We have lost a true champion.”

MarkGoodman, who served as SPLC executive director for 22 years and now serves as aprofessor and Knight Chair in Scholastic Journalism at Kent State University,said Goehler “was a great friend to the SPLC. He was an outstanding andgenerous lawyer and just a great human being. The student press has lost a great friend and advocate.”

Goodmansaid Goehler’s stature was evidenced by a Seventh Circuit panel’s opinion inthe Hosty case affording specialrespect to his friend-of-the-court brief: “They described it as ‘a superbamicus brief filed by attorney Richard M. Goehler on behalf of a bevy ofstudent press associations.’ Appeals court judges almost never comment on alawyer in a court opinion. The fact that these three judges did was anindication of how remarkable Dick was.”

SusanGrogan Faller, who leads Frost Brown Todd’s Media and First Amendment Group,described Goehler as a “media lawyer extraordinaire. Dick truly gave it his alland brought an enthusiasm that was infectious and second to none. He will begreatly missed and warmly remembered in so many ways.”

Goehler,who has served on the SPLC Board of Directors for six years, was unanimouslyselected as chair effective January 2011. He was a regular presenter and authoron topics related to First Amendment and prior restraint, defamation andinvasion of privacy matters, newsgathering litigation and advertising issues.In addition to chairing the ABA Forum on Communications Law, he is pastco-chair of the ABA’s First Amendment & Media Litigation Committee. Goehlerreceived his law degree from The University of Notre Dame where he graduated magna cum laude.

Since 1974, theStudent Press Law Center has been devoted to educating high school and collegejournalists about the rights and responsibilities embodied in the FirstAmendment, and supporting the student news media in covering important issuesfree from censorship. The Centerprovides free information and educational materials for student journalists andtheir teachers on a wide variety of legal topics on its website at www.splc.org.