Professors drop libel suit against creator of TeacherReview.com

CALIFORNIA -- Free speech on the Internet got a boost in October when two City College of San Francisco professors dropped their libel complaint against a student whose Web site featured less-than-flattering descriptions of the professors' teaching ability and personal characteristics.

American Civil Liberties Union cooperating attorney Bernard Burk, representing defendant Ryan Lathouwers, called it a "major victory for free speech on the Internet -- and for student media everywhere."

Daniel Curzon-Brown, an English professor, filed the suit in October 1999 claiming that comments posted on Lathouwers' Web site defamed him. Physics instructor Jesse David Wall joined the suit in May.

Curzon-Brown said he decided to settle the suit after it became apparent to him that he did not have a winning case.

"The law protects the stuff on the Internet that it doesn't in all other places," he told The San Francisco Chronicle. "It allows libel and homophobic hate speech; it is open season on teachers."

The site, TeacherReview.com, allows CCSF students to post evaluations of their teachers for other students to use when registering for classes.

Settlement improves access to meetings

NEW YORK -- A New York Supreme Court judge approved a settlement in August reached between the City University of New York and two men who accused the board of regents of violating the state open-meetings law.

William Crain, a CUNY professor, and David Suker, a graduate student from the university, withdrew their lawsuit against CUNY after reaching a settlement Aug.

Judge thwarts prosecutor’s efforts to subpoena student paper’s notes

MICHIGAN -- Eleven media outlets, among them the Michigan State University student newspaper, scored a victory in September when the state supreme court unanimously ruled against an East Lansing prosecutor who subpoenaed the media's footage of a March 1999 campus riot.

Ingham County prosecutor Stuart Dunnings wanted the video and still photography of nine TV stations and two newspapers to help build his cases against participants in the riots, which broke out on the East Lansing campus following Michigan State

Paper cries foul, wants records related to firing of Indiana U. basketball coach

INDIANA -- An Indianapolis newspaper filed a lawsuit in October against Indiana University, claiming that the school violated the state's open-records law by refusing to release detailed information related to the firing of longtime basketball coach Bob Knight.

In Marion Superior Court, The Indianapolis Star argued that because Indiana University is a public institution it should be required to disclose all information leading to Knight's dismissal, which was provoked by what the university called "a pattern of unacceptable behavior."

Knight, who won three NCAA men's basketball championships during his tenure at Indiana University, has been the subject of criticism for his legendary temper both on and off the court.

University officials said they withheld information relating to his dismissal on the advice of the state's public access counselor.

"We've complied with the law in all respects," said Susan Dillman, a university spokeswoman.

Election fraud survey leads to D.A. visit

WISCONSIN -- Reporters at the Marquette Tribune wanted to offer a look inside Milwaukee County's election, and they ended up with the district attorney knocking on their door.

Staffers of Marquette University's student newspaper responded to widespread rumors of voter fraud in the state with investigative reporting that included a survey of 1,000 Marquette students.

Internet cases reveal inconsistencies in interpretation among federal courts

The explosion of the Internet continues to send shock waves through the American justice system, as courts mediate disputes between advocates of unregulated cyber-speech and government arms seeking to control such speech.

In recent months, cyber-liberties have prevailed in one federal court case, been limited in another and await final judgment in two others.

In New Mexico, state government officials accepted a November 1999 federal court ruling and laid to rest any possibility of continuing their fight to criminalize the electronic distribution of material deemed harmful to minors.