In Sallomi v. Phoenix Newspapers, Inc., 160 Ariz. 144, 147 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1989), the Court of Appeals of Arizona held that the “public records privilege” applied to articles which were “a fair and accurate abridgment of the public records used.” In that case, the Arizona Republic published articles about the apprehension of a hitman at a local restaurant, which it described as a “hangout for narcotics dealers and users” owned by a man being investigated for fraud and attempted extortion. Id. at 145. The owners of the restaurant filed suit for defamation. The information in the articles was obtained from interviews with police officers, affidavits submitted to support searches of various locations, a grand jury indictment, and a booking slip on file at the Phoenix Police Department. Id. at 145‑46. The Court reviewed the articles, the search warrant affidavits, grand jury indictment, and booking slip and concluded that although the newspaper may have relied on interviews with police officers, which are not a public record, because the information obtained was available in the affidavits, indictment, and booking slip, the privilege applied. Id. at 146‑47.
Neutral Reportage Privilege
The CMLP has not identified any cases in Arizona concerning the neutral reportage privilege. If you are aware of any, please contact us. The 9th Circuit has mentioned the adoption of the neutral reportage privilege in other jurisdictions but does not appear to have specifically adopted it itself. See Flowers v. Carville, 310 F.3d 1118, 1128 (9th Cir. 2002).
Wire Service Defense