Sunday, April 20, 2014 12:17:07 PM

First Amendment and Communications Law - Stevens Martin Vaughn and Tadych, PLLC

We provide a wide array of legal services to our media clients. Hugh Stevens, Amanda Martin and Mike Tadych regularly handle cases involving access to open meetings, public records and courtrooms in North Carolina; defend against libel claims and prior restraints; and oppose reporter’s subpoenas.

Through the North Carolina Press Association’s Legal Hotline, the firm’s media lawyers provide advice daily to North Carolina reporters, editors and advertising managers.

Hugh Stevens served as general counsel to the North Carolina Press Association from 1979 until 2003, when he assumed the title “counsel emeritus” and began focusing his efforts on behalf of the North Carolina Press Foundation. He was defense counsel in Renwick v. News and Observer Publishing Company and Hall v. Post, in which the North Carolina Supreme Court respectively declined to recognize the invasion of privacy torts known as “false light” and “publication of private facts,” and in McKinney v. Avery Journal, in which the state’s appellate courts recognized the “wire service” defense to libel claims.

Hugh also represented The News & Observer in gaining access to records of the Poole Commission, which investigated academic irregularities in North Carolina State University’s basketball program, and served as local counsel to ABC News in Food Lion Inc. v. Capital Cities/ABC, et al., a “tortious newsgathering” case that arose out of a PrimeTime Live hidden camera investigation of a supermarket chain.

With Ms. Martin and Professor Cathy Packer of the University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Mr. Stevens is co-editor of the North Carolina Media Law Handbook, for which he wrote its chapter on “Invasion of Privacy and Infliction of Emotional Distress”. In 2006 he became the second attorney inducted into the North Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame.

Amanda Martin, who succeeded Mr. Stevens as general counsel to the North Carolina Press Association in 2003, is co-author of “Libel in Cyberspace: A Framework for Addressing Liability and Jurisdictional Issues in This New Frontier,” in the Albany Law Review and of “Tapping Officials’ Secrets: The Door to Open Government in North Carolina, “published by the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press. As the principal coordinator of the NCPA Legal Hotline, Ms. Martin responds to dozens of inquiries each week on topics ranging from public records to lottery advertisements.  She regularly conducts workshops on defamation, privacy and access issues for the NCPA and its member newspapers and has lectured widely on access, First Amendment and advertising issues. She also has taught media law at both the University of North Carolina School of Law and the University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Mike Tadych a former television news photographer (including aerial coverage), graphic artist, animator and public relations specialist is an integral part of the First Amendment and Communication Law team.  Along with Ms. Martin, Mike fields calls to the NCPA Legal Hotline.  He often teams with Hugh Stevens and Amanda Martin in representing the firm’s media clients in government and courtroom access, libel defense, prepublication and broadcast review and reporter subpoena matters.  Mike regularly leads newsroom and open government workshops across the state and participates in panel discussions on open government, libel and privacy and other legal areas pertinent to newsgathering and reporting.

Our media clients include the North Carolina Press Association and its subsidiary, North Carolina Press Services; the North Carolina Press Foundation; ABC News; WRAL and other television stations owned by Capitol Broadcasting Co.; The News and Observer and other North Carolina newspapers owned by The McClatchy Company; Media General’s North Carolina newspapers and television stations, including the Winston-Salem Journal and WNCT-TV; The Salisbury Post; The Alamance News; and The Daily Tar Heel.