AAN Joins Amicus in Putnam Pit Case

Journalist wants Pit link on City Web site

AAN has joined an Amicus brief supporting Geoff Davidian’s appeal of a U.S. District Court decision in the case of The Putnam Pit v. City of Cookeville.

Davidian is the editor/publisher of The Putnam Pit, a publication that has been extremely critical of local officials in Cookeville, Tenn., located in Putnam County. He has written for a number of publications, including the Houston Chronicle and AAN member Shepherd Express.

Both Davidian and the City agree that The Putnam Pit was denied a hyperlink under the City’s policy that permitted links to other Web sites that “promote the economic welfare, commerce, tourism and industry of the local area.”

Davidian presented evidence at trial that he maintains shows the City developed this policy as a means to deny a link on its Web site to The Putnam Pit.

Davidian argues that the policy is vague and overbroad and violates his First Amendment rights by giving local officials unfettered discretion to deny a link to his publication based on its content.

Project Censored and the Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law at the University of Minnesota have agreed to join the Amicus.

The brief does not address other elements of Davidian’s appeal, which include denial of his request for city employees’ computer records.