Dawn Brotherton Jul. 5, 2016, 2:52pm


ORLANDO – In June, the Florida Bar’s Media Law Conference returned after a three-year hiatus. 

The conference focused on privacy issues surrounding a multitude of topics amidst the backdrop of the recent Orlando tragedy, which created a somber mood but didn’t distract from the importance of the issues.

“The last time the Media Law Conference was held was in 2011,” Nadia Ahmad, the chair of the conference, told the Florida Record. “We (the Media & Communications Law Committee of The Florida Bar) decided to make it part of the Bar Convention for a more efficient use of time and to pick up on the momentum of the convention.”

Panel topics included new cases and developments concerning public access and privacy law in Florida; the use of drones in today’s electronic age when reporting; and the Hulk Hogan v. Gawker trial. 

“This year, we wanted to put forward First Amendment issues as part of the conference," Ahmad said, praising her team and reiterating that each member of the committee is a volunteer. "The chairs did a great job.” 

Kenneth Turkel, partner; Bajo Cuva Cohen Turkel PA, lawyer for Hulk Hogan; Rachel Fugate, partner; Thomas & LoCicero PL, lawyer for Gawker; and Shane Vogt, partner; Bajo Cuva Cohen Turkel PA, lawyer for Hulk Hogan were just some of the highly acclaimed jurists who made up the panel discussing the Hogan v. Gawker case, giving it a fair and unbiased discussion with experts from both sides of the case.

During the continuing legal education (CLE) seminar, “we gave a Supreme Court update and talked about the legacy of Justice Antonin Scalia on the First Amendment,” Ahmad said. “Tom Julin (of Hunton & Williams LLP) did an excellent job moderating the panel,” which included U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit Judge Adalberto Jordan; U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks; and 3rd District Court of Appeal Retired Chief Judge Alan R. Schwartz.

Five days before the Media Law Conference opened, a shooter wreaked havoc at an Orlando nightclub. 

“It was a devastating event," Ahmad said. "Some people couldn’t attend the conference because they were reporting on the shooting.” 

Others attended funerals before and after the conference.

Ahmad felt that the panel on using drones, body cams, and hidden cameras was especially relevant after the nightclub shooting. The panel included a reporter, a managing editor from the Orlando Sentinel Media Group, an American Civil Liberties Union staff attorney and attorneys with drone practice. According to The Florida Bar website, an important goal of the committee is to “explore topical legal issues pertaining to the full spectrum of communications methods, including print, broadcast, cable and emerging technologies.”

Ahmad was once a journalist who went on to become a lawyer. The conference helps her stay connected to the field of journalism. The hope is that the conference bridges the divide between the media and the Bar. The Media & Communications Law Committee of The Florida Bar also plans First Amendment Seminars and Reporters’ Workshops throughout the year and maintains the Florida Reporter’s Handbook

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