October 4, 2005

Globe's Petition Denied

One of the media cases that the Court will not substantively address this term is the Boston Globe's appeal of the $2.1 million libel judgment against it in the case of Lois Ayash v. Dana-Farber Cancer Inst. et al. The denial of the Globe's petition for a writ of certiorari was among the summary dispositions issued on the first day of the term. (Chief Justice Roberts did not take part in the decision.)

In Ayash, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts upheld the trial court's sanction imposed upon the Globe for refusing to reveal a confidential source. The trial court entered a liability judgment in favor of Ayash and against the Globe, thus turning the trial as to the Globe into what was in effect an assessment of damages.

While most of the confidential source cases receiving publicity of late have involved refusals of reporters to reveal confidential sources in the context of criminal investigations, Ayash demonstrates that claims of confidentiality can receive just as frosty a reception in civil cases.

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