States consider bills to guard students who report threats from libel lawsuits

Two Western states are moving to encourage students to report\nthreats of school violence by shielding them from defamation laws.

Nevada lawmakers adopted a plan in June to give immunity from\nlibel laws to those who report a threat to a school official or\npotential victim in "good faith." Legislators in California\nare considering a similar plan.

The legislation, signed by Nevada Gov.

Court to decide on criminal defamation

UTAH -- The state supreme court agreed to hear arguments on the\nconstitutionality of the state's criminal libel law in the case\nof a student arrested for calling his high school principal a\n"town drunk" on an off-campus Web site.

Lawyers for Ian Lake, formerly a student at Milford High School,\nare asking the court to throw out the law, saying it is unconstitutionally\noverbroad.

Editor secures return of confiscated film

OHIO -- The student newspaper editor at Wright State University\nreaped the rewards of standing up for the rights of her staff\nin May when she successfully retrieved film that had been confiscated\nby a law enforcement agent.

Stephanie Irwin, editor of The Guardian, Wright State's student\nnewspaper, sent a letter demanding the return of the film after\nit was taken from a photographer on assignment.

On May 4, Diane Corey, an undercover law enforcement officer\nworking on behalf of the Wright State Department of Public Safety,\nconfiscated a roll of film from Justin Garman, a photographer\nfor The Guardian.

Garman was photographing an off-campus party that followed\nMay Daze, a university-sponsored, all-day celebration.

Turning the Tables

When Joseph Hughes, a Marshall University senior, started a Web site dedicated to giving students alternative ways to purchase textbooks, he wanted to find a way to get people to visit the site regularly.


\n He thought that posting professor evaluations might be a good way to draw students to the site.


\n ''People simply didn't know about [the site] so I needed something to get people's attention,'' Hughes said.


\n What Hughes did not bargain for was the battle he would face in accessing those evaluations.

U. Arizona student media dodge riot subpoenas

ARIZONA -- The student newspaper and student-run television station\nat the University of Arizona avoided subpoenas aimed at forcing\nthem to hand over photographs and taped footage of a disturbance\nin Tucson that followed Arizona's loss in the final round of the\nNCAA men's basketball tournament.

Pima County prosecutors withdrew the two grand jury subpoenas,\nwhich were issued in April and early May, after they were met\nwith challenges from the student media.

Prosecutors sought to compel The Daily Wildcat and TV3 to forfeit\nto Tucson police photographs and taped footage of riots in the\nFourth Avenue area.

After Arizona's April 2 loss to Duke University, nearly 500\npolice officers donning bulletproof shields and nightsticks showered\nrevelers with rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the crowd\nof more than 2,000, a portion of which had begun to cause substantial\ndamage to the area.

Agencies get poor marks on access test

CALIFORNIA -- Student journalists conducting an access project at Chico State University found that accessing public records can be tricky, especially when government agencies are not familiar with what is considered a public record under the law.

Seven students put together an audit of local and campus agencies as part of an advanced reporting class to determine the level of compliance the agencies have with the California Public Records Act.

Newspaper does not have to comply with open-records law, official rules

TEXAS -- The student newspaper at the University of Texas at Tyler\nwas handed a victory by the state attorney general's office, which\nruled June 19 that the state's open-records law did not require\nthe newspaper to release reporters' notes and recordings from\nan investigation into alleged misconduct by student government\nofficials.

Shortly after The Patriot ran a story March 19 detailing alleged\ncampus election law violations, student government president Aimee\nGriffy filed a state Public Information Act request asking newspaper\neditor Melissa Tresner to turn over materials she compiled during\nher investigation.

Griffy argued that the paper's staff members were state actors\ncovered by the state's open-records law because the paper is funded\nin part through student activity fees.

But Tresner contested the request, claiming that compelling\nher to hand over the material violated her First Amendment newsgathering\nprivilege.