On January 24, 2017, the Cyberlaw Clinic filed an amicus brief (pdf) on behalf of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in the case, Steinmetz v. Coyle & Caron Inc., First Circuit No. 16-1996. The brief supports defendant-appellee in the case, and the Court granted leave to file the brief this week (over the objections of plaintiff-appellant). RCFP was joined on the brief by The Associated Press, Gannett Co., Inc., the New England First Amendment Coalition, and the New England Newspaper & Press Association, Inc. RCFP has summarized the brief on its website.
The Steinmetz case arises out of a public debate over the plaintiffs’ plan to build a house in Cohasset, MA. After a local agency rejected the plan, the plaintiffs sued the defendant architectural firm for allegedly furnishing inaccurate renderings of the proposed structure. The defendant successfully moved to dismiss under the Massachusetts anti-SLAPP statute, Mass. Gen. Laws c. 231, § 59H. On appeal, the plaintiffs challenge, inter alia, the constitutionality of this provision, arguing that it represents a violation of their Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial.