LANDMARK COMMUNICATIONS, INC. v. VIRGINIA

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
76-1450
Appellant 
Landmark Communications Inc.
Appellee 
Virginia
Advocates
(argued the cause for the appellant)
(argued the cause for the appellee)
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Facts of the Case 

A Landmark Communications newspaper, The Virginian Pilot, published an article regarding the Virginia Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission's investigation into a state judge. The article, which was accurate, violated a Virginia law that prohibited the release of information from Commission hearings. Landmark was indicted by a grand jury, had its motion to dismiss denied by the trial court, convicted without a jury trial and fined. The Supreme Court of Virginia affirmed Landmark's conviction.

Question 

Did the criminal punishment of Landmark for disclosing information from the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission's hearing violate the First Amendment?

Conclusion 
Decision: 7 votes for Landmark Communications, Inc., 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 1: Speech, Press, and Assembly

Yes. The Court ruled 7-0 reversing the Supreme Court of Virginia. Chief Justice Warren E. Burger authored the majority opinion. Speaking for six members of the Court, Burger recognized the need for confidentiality in the Commission's proceedings. However, the disclosure of information from the Commission hearing by the Pilot served a public interest consistent with New York Times v. Sullivan. Therefore, the state interest did not "justify encroaching on First Amendment guarantees" in the form of the criminal punishment. Justice Potter Stewart wrote an opinion concurring in the judgment.

Cite this Page
LANDMARK COMMUNICATIONS, INC. v. VIRGINIA. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 10 September 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1977/1977_76_1450>.
LANDMARK COMMUNICATIONS, INC. v. VIRGINIA, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1977/1977_76_1450 (last visited September 10, 2014).
"LANDMARK COMMUNICATIONS, INC. v. VIRGINIA," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed September 10, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1977/1977_76_1450.