Attorneys for WTVF-5 and investigative reporter Phil Williams filed a petition for a re-hearing in front of the state Court of Appeals regarding General Sessions judge Dan Eisenstein's case against them.
The de facto appeal of the appeal comes after the COA ruled that Williams may have been guilty of presenting Eisenstein in a false light in two stories — and remanded the case back to Davidson County Circuit Court.
Not so fast, said NewsChannel 5's attorneys.
The petition for re-hearing points out what they believe to be several misinterpretations of law in the appeals court decision.
Neal & Harwell attorney Ronald Harris argued that Williams can't be guilty of false light claims because the facts reported in the news stories were true — which the COA acknowledged in their opinion.
The filing claims that case law and U.S. Court of Appeals rulings have determined that a false statement is an “essential element” of false light.
The petition also accuses the Court of Appeals decision of “conflicting with constitutional rights,” including freedom of speech.
“The Supreme Court has determined that the constitutional guarantees of speech and press limit a court's power to award damages in a defamation suit brought by a public official against critics
of his official conduct,” the filing read.
The petition will be reviewed by Court of Appeals judges — at which point they may grant reversal of the previous opinion, request further information or deny the petition.