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Admitted to Practice

  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 1st Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 2nd Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 3rd Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 4th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 6th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 11th Circuit
  • U.S. District Court District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court District of Massachusetts
  • U.S. District Court District of Rhode Island
  • U.S. District Court District of Maryland
  • U.S. District Court Southern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of New York
  • Massachusetts
  • New York
  • District of Columbia

Laura R. Handman

HandmanLaura
Partner
Co-chair, Appellate Practice
T202.973.4224
F202.973.4499
T212.489.8230
F212.489.8340

Laura Handman is the co-chair of the firm’s appellate practice and divides her time between the New York and D.C. offices. For thirty years, Laura has been providing pre-publication counseling and litigation services from complaint through trial and appeal to U.S. and foreign broadcasters, film studios, and book, magazine, newspaper and Internet publishers and non-profits. Laura has extensive experience in libel, newsgathering, privacy, right of publicity, reporter’s privilege and First Amendment matters. She obtained the first decision in U.S. courts refusing to enforce foreign libel judgments as inconsistent with the First Amendment and was involved in the passage of the SPEECH Act codifying those decisions as federal law. Laura has served as an expert on American libel law in actions in England, Northern Ireland and Australia. She has obtained the first decisions applying the D.C. Anti-SLAPP Act in federal court and has written four amicus briefs on Anti-SLAPP issues. She represents news organizations, reporters, and Internet firms in national security investigations. She brings recognized expertise to clients in copyright litigation and was appointed a special master in S.D.N.Y. to review advertising and promotion in a civil fraud action.

Laura’s clients include: Amazon.com, Associated Newspapers, Atlantic Media Company, Bloomberg, Center for American Progress, China Central Television (CCTV), Discovery Communications, Dow Jones, The Economist, HarperCollins, Hearst Corporation, MainJustice.com, Microsoft, New York Daily News, New York Post, National Public Radio (NPR), Pew Charitable Trust, Random House, Straus Newspapers, Times Newspapers Ltd., TripAdvisor, U.S. News & World Report, Yale Alumni Magazine, and Yelp.

Representative Experience

Libel

Maxim A. Stepanov and Midland Consult (Cyprus) Ltd. v. Dow Jones & Company

Obtained dismissal, affirmed, of libel action against Barron's magazine arising out of an article entitled, "Crime and Punishment in Putin's Russia." First New York appellate decision requiring that “the language of the communication as a whole can be reasonably read both to impart a defamatory inference and to affirmatively suggest that the author intended or endorsed that inference.” 987 N.Y.S. 2d 37 (App Div. 1st Dept. 2014); Andrew Keshner, Panel Sets Standards For Defamation By Implication Claims, N.Y.L.J., May 30, 2014

Martin v. New York Daily News, L.P.

Obtained unanimous affirmance of summary judgment for daily newspaper and columnist Errol Louis in libel action brought by a sitting judge on grounds of no actual malice. Obtained unanimous affirmance of dismissal of second suit on grounds that restoration of columns to the website did not constitute republication retriggering statute of limitations. 2014 WL 3510973 (N.Y. App. Div. 1st Dept. July 17, 2014) Brendan Pierson, Ruling Upholds Dismissal of Judge’s Defamation Suit, NYLJ (July 18, 2014); Kelly Knaub, Court Won’t Revive Justice’s $10M Daily News Defamation Suit, Law 360 (July 17, 2014)

Farah v. Esquire Magazine

Involved in defense of libel claim for a satirical blog post about the book "Where’s the Birth Certificate?"; obtained first federal dismissal under new D.C. Anti-SLAPP Act and Rule 12(b)(6) for "satirical commentary." 863 F. Supp. 2d 29 (D.D.C. 2012). The D.C. Circuit affirmed dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6), holding that the blog post was satire protected by the First Amendment, that an update to the blog and the author’s comments were protected opinion, and that the Lanham Act did not apply to the blog post, establishing in the D.C. Circuit that the Lanham Act applies only to commercial speech. 736 F.3d 528 (D.C. Cir. 2013)

Seaton v. TripAdvisor

Obtained affirmance of dismissal of libel suit against TripAdvisor arising out of online ranking of the "Dirtiest Hotels" in America holding that ranking, based on data compiled from user reviews, is subjective opinion. 728 F.3d 592 (6th Cir. 2013)

Amicus Briefs on Behalf of Media Organizations Supporting Application of Anti-SLAPP Laws in Federal Court

Abbas v. Foreign Policy Group, LLC et al. (urging affirmance of dismissal under D.C.’s Anti-SLAPP Act) (D.C. Cir. 2014) (Pending); Adelson v. Harris (urging affirmance of decision granting dismissal under Nevada’s Anti-SLAPP Act applying the fair report privilege where reference to underlying judicial proceeding is via hyperlinking) (2d Cir. 2014) (Pending); Intercon Solutions, Inc. v. Basel Action Network et al. (urging that Washington's anti-SLAPP law applies in federal court and that the collateral order doctrine permits immediate appeal from denial of an anti-SLAPP motion) (7th Cir. 2014) (Pending); Sherrod v. Breitbart (urging reversal of decision declining to apply D.C. Anti-SLAPP Act in federal diversity actions as conflicting with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. 720 F.3d 932 (D.C. Cir. 2013) (decided on other grounds).

Westlake Legal Group v. Yelp, Inc.

Defending Yelp in libel action arising out of a critical review by client of legal services provided by plaintiff. Motion to vacate $200,000 default judgment and to dismiss pending (E.D. Va. 2014) (Ongoing)

O’Keefe v. WDC Media

Representing website Main Justice in a libel suit brought by conservative videographer and Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe over a reference to prior incidents that resulted in misdemeanor convictions against O’Keefe and his associates for entering a senator’s offices under false pretenses. Motion to dismiss pending. (D.N.J. Ongoing)

Boley v. Atlantic Monthly Group and Jeffrey Goldberg

Obtained dismissal under D.C. Anti-SLAPP Act dismissing defamation claim against the Atlantic and its award-winning journalist arising from online articles reporting that plaintiff was a Liberian "warlord," whose organization "recruited and armed child soldiers, fed them drugs, and ordered them to rape and kill." No. 13-cv-89 (D.D.C. 2013)

Brennerman v. Times Newspapers Limited

Defended publisher of The Sunday Times (UK) in a libel suit brought by a British-American real estate entrepreneur mentioned in an article about the use of offshore shell companies and charity-fronted trust structures, drawing on the trove of documents about offshore accounts that were leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in 2013. (D. Del. 2014) (Voluntarily Dismissed after Motion to Dismiss filed)

Mar-Jac Poultry v. Katz, et al., Unus v. Katz, et al.

Defended author of book “Terrorist Hunter” against two libel suits and one constitutional tort action arising out her investigation of Muslim charities' alleged funding of terrorism. One libel suit dropped, summary judgment granted in the other. 773 F. Supp. 2d 103 (D.D.C. 2011). Constitutional tort action dismissed and affirmed by the Fourth Circuit. 565 F.3d 103 (4th Cir. 2009)

CACI International v. Randi Rhodes and Piquant, LLC (Air America Radio)

Secured summary judgment, affirmed in 4th Circuit, dismissing libel suit which alleged that, on her radio program, Rhodes falsely stated that CACI interrogators were responsible for rape, murder and torture at Abu Ghraib prison. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals held that statements were either not made with actual malice, based on findings of military investigations and news accounts, or were non-actionable hyperbole. 536 F.3d 280 (E.D. Va. 2008). Affirmed, 536 F.3d 280 (4th Cir. 2008) Read more

Interphase Garment v. Fox Television Stations

Obtained dismissal of claims for defamation, interference with contract, emotional distress, and invasion of privacy arising from local Fox affiliate's coverage of plaintiff's failure to deliver school uniforms on time. Established Maryland precedent regarding statute of limitations as applied to mass media. 566 F. Supp. 2d 460 (D. Md. 2008)

Massey Coal v. United Mine Workers of America, et al.

Obtained dismissal of libel action brought by a coal mining company and its president against union; appeal denied. (Fairfax Cnty. (Va.) Cir. Ct. 2007)

Flowers v. Carville, et al.

Represented George Stephanopoulos in combating defamation claim brought by Gennifer Flowers. Successfully convinced 9th Circuit that Stephanopoulos' comments in his book and during interviews were opinion or made without malice, based on accurate accounts of the 1992 presidential campaign. 161 F. App’x 697 (9th Cir. 2006)

Rubin v. U.S. News & World Report

Obtained dismissal, affirmed in 11th Circuit, of libel by implication case for national news weekly. 271 F.3d 1305 (11th Cir. 2001)

Foreign Libel Cases

Matusevitch v. Telnikoff

Established first precedents in federal and state courts refusing to enforce British libel judgments as repugnant to U.S. public policy. 159 F.3d 636 (D.C. Cir. 1998); 702 A.2d 230 (Md. 1997)

Bachchan v. India Abroad

Established first precedents in federal and state courts refusing to enforce British libel judgments as repugnant to U.S. public policy. 154 Misc.2d 228, 585 N.Y.S.2d 661 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1992)

In re Application of Associated Newspapers Ltd. to Issue Subpoena for the Taking of a Deposition and the Production of Documents for Use in a Foreign Proceeding

Secured court order granting foreign newspaper’s application pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1782 to obtain evidence for use in a foreign libel proceeding. (S.D.N.Y. 2011)

Gutnick v. Dow Jones & Co.

Served as expert witness on U.S. libel law for defendant. (Melbourne, Australia Common Law Division)

Alexander Vassiliev v. Amazon.com, Inc.

Expert on U.S. libel law for Amazon. (High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, England)

Clarke v. Amazon.com, Inc., Amazon.co.uk.Limited, and Amcho Computer Services Limited

Expert on U.S. libel law for Amazon. (High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, Northern Ireland)

Right of Publicity and Misappropriation

Peppe v. Random House

Defended commercial misappropriation claims brought by former CIA agent. No. CL 10003938 (Alexandria (Va.) Cir. Ct. 2010)

O'Grady v. Discovery Communications and 20th Century Fox

Represented Discovery in claims of false advertising and commercial misappropriation arising out of a promotional tie-in. 2003 WL 24174616 (E.D. Tex. 2003) (granting partial summary judgment for defendants)

Hampton v. Guare

Successfully defended author, movie studio and publisher in commercial misappropriation claim arising from dramatization of plaintiff's exploits in the satiric play "Six Degrees of Separation." Established that satire and fiction do not constitute advertising or trade. 600 N.Y.S.2d 57, 195 A.D.2d 366 (N.Y. App. Div. 1st Dept. 1993)

Finger v. Omni Publications International Ltd.

Successfully defended magazine for stock use of photo of family to illustrate story on in vitro fertilization. New York's highest court affirmed dismissal of commercial misappropriation claim, establishing editorial deference to choice of how to illustrate newsworthy material. 77 N.Y.2d 138, 564 N.Y.S.2d 1014 (1990)

Reporters’ Privilege

Adelson v. Jacobs, Adelson v. O’Keeffe

Represented Wall Street Journal and its reporter against third-party discovery sought by Sheldon Adelson, the multi-billionaire casino magnate, in a Florida defamation lawsuit against a former employee. Quashed third-party subpoena in New York on the grounds that the information is protected by the reporter’s privilege granted, libel suit against Wall Street Journal reporter pending in Hong Kong (N.Y. Sup. Ct.) (2013); (High Ct. of Hong Kong Special Admin. Region) (Ongoing)

Amazon.com v. Kenneth Lay, Secretary, North Carolina's Department of Revenue

Obtained declaratory judgment that North Carolina's request for information about customers' choices of expressive material violates the First Amendment and the Video Privacy Protection Act. 758 F. Supp. 2d 1154 (W. D. Wash. 2010) 

In re Grand Jury

Quashed grand jury subpoena to newspaper for IP addresses of anonymous bloggers. (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2010)

In re Grand Jury Subpoena To Amazon.com dated August 7, 2006

Successfully represented online bookseller in asserting First Amendment rights and opposing grand jury subpoena seeking records of customer purchases of expressive material. 246 F.R.D. 570 (W.D. Wis. 2007)

Hatfill v. Mukasey, et al.

Represented coalition of media organizations as amici in support of a reporter facing contempt sanctions in a Privacy Act suit for refusing to reveal confidential sources related to the investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks. Filed two amicus briefs in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Appeal dismissed as moot. No. 03-cv-1793 (D.C. Cir. 2008)

Gonzales v. NBC

Submitted Amicus in support of reconsideration; decision on rehearing recognized federal qualified reporter’s privilege in civil cases. 194 F.3d 29 (2d Cir. 1999)

Constitutional Torts

Young v. Suffolk County, et al.

Defended print, online, and broadcast media against federal civil rights claims and state law claims for defamation and emotional distress arising out of media coverage of uninhabitable living conditions of plaintiff and her children. (E.D.N.Y. 2010)

Prior Restraints

Bank Julius Baer v. Wikileaks.org

Successfully represented national media coalition to successfully oppose and vacate a prior restraint order issued by a federal court in San Francisco against Wikileaks.org after confidential Swiss banking records were posted to this whistleblower website. 535 F. Supp. 2d  980 (N.D. Cal. 2008)

ConnectU, Inc. v. Facebook, Inc.

Successfully represented magazine 02138 when Facebook sought to compel removal of sealed documents about its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, from the magazine’s website; court rejected as unconstitutional prior restraint. Successful defense by attorneys from Davis Wright Tremaine led a federal judge to reject the company’s request for a court order to take down the material. 2008 WL 2330992 (D. Mass. 2008) Read more

Procter & Gamble v. McGraw-Hill

Sixth Circuit reversed prior restraint against publication of sealed court record. 78 F.3d 219 (6th Cir. 1996)

Freedom of Information Act and Access to Public Records & Proceedings

Florida Medical Association, Inc. v. Department of Health, Education and Welfare

On behalf of Dow Jones, the publisher of The Wall Street Journal, obtained order vacating 34 year-old injunction obtained by the American Medical Association in 1979, that blocked public access to records of payments doctors receive under Medicare. 947 F. Supp. 2d 1325 (M.D. Fla. 2013) In 2014, after comments submitted on behalf of Dow Jones, HHS released the database of Medicare provider reimbursements, leading to ground-breaking articles across the country. (2014)

The Chronicle v. The Orange County, New York Board of Ethics

Won New York Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”) appeal on behalf of local newspaper declaring that the Orange County Ethics Law prohibiting photographing and photocopying of public officials’ financial disclosure forms was unenforceable under FOIL. (2014)

National Business Aviation Ass’n v. FAA

Defeated on behalf of Pro Publica a reverse FOIA claim seeking to prevent the FAA from releasing information about private plane owners who have blocked public release of flight plans. 686 F. Supp. 2d 80 (D.D.C. 2010)

United States v. U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California

Represented amici on appeal in support of access to sensitive government information presented at sentencing hearing; affirmed by 9th Circuit. (2008)

Center for National Securities Studies v. Department of Justice

Represented coalition of media entities in federal FOIA and First Amendment appeal to the Department of Justice's refusal to divulge the identities of persons detained in immediate aftermath of September 11. 331 F.3d 918 (D.C. Cir. 2003)

Copyright and Theft of Ideas

Sunset Concepts v. Discovery Communications

Defended Discovery in theft of ideas suit relating to creation of OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, and its programming. Case dismissed. (S.D. Fla. 2014)

DMBJ v. TMZ

Obtained dismissal of copyright infringement claim by paparazzo for use of celebrity clip. No. 08 Civ. 6160 (S.D.N.Y. 2009)

Col. Adams v. Discovery Communications, LLC, et al.

2nd Circuit affirmed dismissal of copyright infringement claim arising out of the movie "Polar Express" and cable program "Extreme Engineering." 289 F. App’x 456 (2d Cir. 2008)

Moore v. Discovery Communications, LLC

Defended Discovery Communications in suit seeking to prevent showing of award-winning documentary "Man on Wire" at Tribeca Film Festival, on the grounds of use of unlicensed photographs. TRO denied; case settled. (S.D.N.Y. 2008)

Wong v. Simon & Schuster

Defeated injunction against book publisher Simon & Schuster in copyright infringement action. (E.D. Va. 2007)

Gross v. BBC

Represented BBC in theft-of-ideas action. 386 F.3d 224 (2d Cir. 2004)

Commercial Speech

The Humane Society of the United States v. Amazon.com, et al.

Defended Amazon.com in a lawsuit brought by the Humane Society of the United States regarding sale of subscriptions to cockfighting magazines. 2007 WL 1297170 (D.D.C. 2007)

Additional Qualifications

  • Former Assistant U.S. Attorney, E.D.N.Y. 
  • Law Clerk to Chief Judge Raymond J. Pettine, D.R.I.
  • Associate & Partner, Coudert Brothers
  • Appointed special federal master by S.D.N.Y. judge responsible for reviewing all advertising and promotion of company subject to civil mail fraud action

Professional & Community Activities

  • Testimony, House Judiciary Committee, Maryland General Assembly – Testified on behalf of MD/DE/DC Press Association and the Washington Post against bill to establish statutory and descendible right of publicity in Maryland, February 2013
  • Testimony, Hearing on Libel Tourism (libel suits brought against U.S.-based defendants in foreign countries) and HR 6146 (related amendment to federal judicial code), Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law of the House Judiciary Committee, February 2009
  • Advisory Board, Digital Media Law Project, Online Media Legal Network, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard Law School
  • Co-Taught "Journalism, Law & Society," Columbia Journalism School, Summer 2011
  • Co-chair, Dialogue Project: Conversations with Bench, Bar and Press, Council for Court Excellence, 2010–present
  • Co-chair, Project Committee, "Journalists' Handbook to the Courts in the District of Columbia," published by the Council for Court Excellence, 2009
  • Executive Committee, Council for Court Excellence, 2010-present
  • Founder and past Chair, Media Law Committee, Arts, Entertainment and Sports Law Section, District of Columbia Bar
  • Past Chair, Communications and Media Law Committee, Association of the Bar of the City of New York
  • Past President, Defense Counsel Section, Libel Defense Resource Center

Professional Recognition

  • Named one of "America’s Leading Lawyers for Business" by Chambers USA in National First Amendment Litigation, 2007-2009, 2011-2014; Media & Entertainment in D.C., 2005-2014; Received "Band 1" ranking, 2012-2014
  • Selected by Best Lawyers as Washington D.C.’s "Lawyer of the Year" First Amendment Litigation in 2014
  • Named one of, "Washington, D.C. & Baltimore's Top Rated Lawyers," by The National Law Journal, 2013
  • Selected to "Washington, D.C., Super Lawyers" by Thomson Reuters, 2008-2014; in Top 50 Female Super Lawyers, 2008, 2010; in Top First Amendment/Media/Advertising, 2008-2012; in Intellectual Property, 2011-2014; "New York Super Lawyers" in First Amendment/Media/Advertising, Thomson Reuters, 2007-2013
  • Named one of the "Best Lawyers in America" in First Amendment Law by Best Lawyers, 1995-2008; named in First Amendment Law and Media Law, 2009-present
  • Named one of "Washington's Top Lawyers" in First Amendment law, 2009-2013; by Washingtonian Magazine
  • Received the 2007 International PEN First Amendment Award from PEN USA, the West Coast center for the worldwide writers' organization
  • Recognized in the area of First Amendment Litigation in "The New York Area’s Best Lawyers" list published by American Lawyer Media, 2005
  • Received the John M. Davis Award for Legal Expertise, Davis Wright Tremaine, 2013
Laura Handman named washington, D.C. first amendment lawyer of the year, read release
Media, technology and first amendment legal devolepments newsletter
A consummate professional, and clients have nothing but the highest regard for her, client quote