New Hampshire Supreme Court Rules Website Covered By State Reporter's Privilege
Posted May 6th, 2010
This morning, the Supreme Court of New Hampshire handed down an important decision holding that a mortgage industry website, The Mortgage Lender Implode-O-Meter, is entitled to protection under the state's reporter's privilege.
The case is Mortgage Specialists, Inc. v. Implode-Explode Heavy Industries, Inc., which was argued before the New Hampshire Supreme Court last fall. The dispute centers on an article that Impode-O-Meter published in August 2008, which detailed administrative actions taken by the New Hampshire Banking Department against The Mortgage Specialists, a mortgage lender. The article included a link to a financial document that The Mortgage Specialists allegedly submitted to the state banking authorities, which Implode-O-Meter had obtained from an anonymous source. After the mortgage company discovered the disclosure, it sued the website, demanding that the document be removed from the Internet and that the anonymous source be identified. A Rockingham County Superior Court judge granted these requests.
In the part of the decision dealing with the reporter's privilege, the state high court ruled that New Hampshire's qualified reporter's privilege applied to Implode-O-Meter and could protect the identity of the source who provided the loan document. The court flatly rejected The Mortgage Specialists' argument that "the newsgathering privilege is inapplicable here because Implode is neither an established media entity nor engaged in investigative reporting." ...