[CUA Office of Public Affairs]                                                                        

May 15, 2001

Contact: Frank Grosso



Wiretapping and Eavesdropping Expert Available to Comment on Supreme Court Case Re. Media Access


Clifford Fishman, professor of law at The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law, is available to discuss Bartnicki v. Vopper, which will soon be decided by the Supreme Court of the United States.  The ruling of this case will determine whether the news media have a right to knowingly violate a federal law designed to protect individual privacy against illegal wiretapping, bugging and computer hacking.

Fishman served as an assistant district attorney in the New York County District Attorney's Office, and as chief investigating assistant district attorney to New York City's special narcotics prosecutor, which included supervising that office’s use of electronic surveillance and litigating search and seizure issues. Fishman is the lead author of Wiretapping and Eavesdropping (2d. ed.) and six books on the law of evidence. He has also consulted for the United States Department of Justice, the Drug Enforcement Administration, local prosecutors' offices, the District of Columbia Criminal Defense Attorneys' Association and the National Technical Investigators Association.

Regarding Bartnicki v. Vopper, Fishman says,  “The media argue that they should have the 'right' to information that they know comes from an illegal wiretapper, eavesdropper or hacker because it is a form of ‘First Amendment freedom.’  But this means that whenever I speak — in person or on the phone, or communicate by e-mail  — I must do so knowing that anything I say could wind up on TV or radio or the newspapers, and I would have no practical recourse against this wholesale violation of my privacy.  That’s about as effective a way to suppress free speech as any I can think of.”

Prof. Fishman can be reached at 202-319-5026 or by e-mail: fishman@law.edu. For assistance in scheduling an interview, contact Frank Grosso at 202-319-5491.






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Revised: May 16, 2001

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