First Amendment & Media Law

Kaplan Johnson Abate & Bird LLP offers its clients expertise in First Amendment and media matters that is unparalleled in this region. We bring decades of hands-on experience representing prominent media clients on a range of issues, including prepublication story review and litigation concerning defamation actions, access to courts and access to public records.

Working With The KPA To Protect The First Amendment Rights

The firm's attorneys pride themselves on working alongside journalists to help them produce — and defend — important and groundbreaking work. We operate a statewide hotline for Kentucky Press Association (KPA) members to obtain legal advice on a wide range of issues arising in modern journalistic practice.

We also serve as counsel to the KPA's legal defense fund to vigorously represent members who find themselves in litigation. Our attorneys also regularly conduct in-depth reviews for print, broadcast and multimedia stories for a wide range of clients.

More Than Representation

Our firm attorneys are recognized for their great expertise with First Amendment and media law. They are regularly called upon:

  • To draft and review legislation impacting the press.
  • To testify before legislative committees.
  • To speak at a wide range of events touching upon constitutional and First Amendment principles.

Representative Matters

  • "The Pope's Long Con": Provided legal review of Peabody award-winning podcast series;
  • WPSD TV et al v. Jameson, Nos. 18-CA-277 & 18-CA-279 (Mar. 1. 2018): Successfully obtained emergency appellate relief ordering court to unseal proceedings of juvenile defendant indicted as an adult in connection with school shooting in Marshall County, KY;
  • Cabinet for Economic Development v. Courier Journal, No. 17-CI-1137 (Franklin Cir. Ct. Mar. 29, 2018): Successfully defeated challenge to Attorney General opinion requiring Cabinet to disclose the names of shareholders in company owned in significant part by the Commonwealth of Kentucky;
  • WKU v. College Heights Herald: Represented college newspaper against its own administration in litigation concerning the public's right to access Title IX investigative records concerning faculty members accused of sexual misconduct on college campuses (pending);
  • In Re: Grand Jury Subpoena (WDRB-41): Successfully moved to quash a search warrant, and then a grand jury subpoena, seeking unbroadcast news footage;
  • Utility Management Group v. Pike County Fiscal Court, 531 S.W.3d 3 (Ky. 2017): Successfully argued against retroactive application of amendment to Open Records Law;
  • Of Commissioners of City of Danville v. Advocate Commc'ns, Inc., 527 S.W.3d 803 (Ky. 2017): Successfully argued that public agency violated Open Meetings Act by conducting business in closed session;
  • Cabinet for Health & Family Servs. v. Courier-Journal, Inc., 493 S.W.3d 375 (Ky. Ct. App. 2016): Obtained and defended unprecedented judgment awarding client over $1 million in fees and penalties under Kentucky Open Records Act.
  • Cape Publications, Inc. v. Univ. of Louisville Found., Inc., 260 S.W.3d 818, 820 (Ky. 2008): Successfully arguing that the University of Louisville Foundation is a public agency and the names of its donors must be disclosed.

Contact Us

We counsel and represent clients in Metro Louisville and throughout the nation with issues involving the First Amendment and media law. To speak with one of our lawyers, call our office at 502-416-1630.