Wednesday, January 28, 2004
Libel Lawyer Gary L. Bostwick Leaves Davis Wright for Sheppard Mullin
By R. STANTON HALL, Staff Writer
Gary L. Bostwick, a libel law specialist who has argued high-profile cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, has joined Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton as a partner in the firm’s business trial and entertainment and media practice groups.
Bostwick, formerly of Davis Wright Tremaine, said yesterday he was excited to make the move, which he said will give him more opportunities to do what he enjoys best about his profession: going to trial. While praising Davis Wright, Bostwick said that he had argued just one case in court during the last four years.
“I was restless, sort of like a dog who’s been left home alone and is about to tear up the furniture,” he explained.
Bostwick said the sort of cases taken by Sheppard Mullin were more likely to lead to litigation.
“It’s a unique activity, being in a court of law in front of a jury. I’m looking forward to the chance to go to trial and draw upon my experiences as a trial lawyer.”
In a statement, Robert Beall, chair of Sheppard Mullin’s business trial practice group, commented, “Gary is an experienced trial lawyer who brings highly specialized expertise in First Amendment, libel and slander matters. His expertise...will enhance our ability to serve the growing needs of our clients.”
Bostwick is perhaps best known for two cases he argued and lost in front of the Supreme Court. In the first, 1991’s Masson v. New Yorker Magazine, Inc., he defended the magazine, including writer Janet Malcolm, in a libel and defamation suit brought by psychoanalyst Jeffrey Masson.
The lawsuit had been filed in response to an extremely unflattering article Malcolm had written, including allegedly fabricated quotes attributed to Masson, after the latter had been fired by the Sigmund Freud Archives. A district judge dismissed the suit on free speech grounds, saying Masson was a public figure and could not prove malice.
The Supreme Court disagreed. In a landmark ruling, the court unanimously agreed that the First Amendment’s free expression clause did not protect fabrications, with Justice Anthony Kennedy writing for the court that a public figure’s direct quotation may be considered a distortion if the quoted words are factually different from anything the figure actually said.
In 1995’s Sandin v. Conner, Bostwick represented a Hawaii prisoner who alleged prison officials deprived him of procedural due process during a disciplinary hearing and then sentenced him to segregation for misconduct. A district judge ruled in favor of the officials, but the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed.
The Supreme Court, however, ruled 5-4 that the officials did not deprive the prisoner of constitutional due process and that his segregated confinement did not violate his liberty as defined by the Fourth Amendment.
Bostwick also represented political commentator Arianna Huffington in a libel suit, was convicted killer Jeffrey MacDonald’s counsel in his suit against author Joe McGinniss, and was principal defense counsel in a suit arising from a hotel fire in Puerto Rico.
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company