Austin TV station raises First Amendment argument in Houston woman's defamation suit

By John Suayan | Jan 10, 2019

HOUSTON – An Austin television station has challenged a local woman’s defamation lawsuit against it, recent Harris County District Court records indicate.

CBS affiliate KEYE-TV asserts in an original answer entered into the December 2018 suit brought by Jessica deValentino that it accurately reported the plaintiff as one of the seven individuals pardoned by Gov. Greg Abbott in late 2017 in an online article.

As previously reported in The Southeast Texas Record, deValentino’s complaint says she “has been negatively affected by the publication of the information when co-workers, businesses, clients, and employers view the information on” KEYE’s Web site.

Evoking its First Amendment rights, the station argues “the report does not fall within one of the unprotected categories of speech (i.e., obscenity, fighting words, defamation, invasion of privacy, incitement).”

“The defendant had no legal duty to the plaintiff,” KEYE’s response says. “There is no recognized legal duty for a non-governmental actor to remove already published information from its Web site (and certainly not when the information is on a matter of public concern).”

The plaintiff offered a rebuttal to the answer accusing the respondent of exploiting the Constitution.

The law firm Haynes and Boone in Austin is representing KEYE.

Harris County 157th District Court Case No. 2018-85762

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