The Privilege to Report on Judicial Proceedings Attaches
What are the Reasons for the Common Law Privilege to Report on Judicial proceedings to be Attached Not at the Point of Judicial Action but when the Complaint is Filed ?
In Newell v. Field Enterprises, Inc., 91 Ill. App. 3d 735, 415 N.E.2d 434, 47 Ill. Dec. 429 (1980), this court addressed the issue of whether the fair report privilege should attach only after some form of judicial action has taken place. Newell, 91 Ill. App. 3d at 745.
The Newell court chose to join the trend adopting "the minority view that the common law privilege to report on judicial proceedings attaches not at the point of judicial action, but rather when the complaint is filed." Newell, 91 Ill. App. 3d at 746.
The Newell court gave several reasons for its adoption of the minority view.
First, the public's interest in knowing what is transpiring in the judicial system compelled that the entire judicial system be exposed to the light of public scrutiny. Newell, 91 Ill. App. 3d at 746.
Second, the reasoning set forth by the states adopting the majority view, that such a limitation on the privilege reduces the potential for defamation, was unconvincing because, inter alia, the mere fact that "a suit had proceeded to the point where judicial action of some kind has taken place does not necessarily mean that the suit is less likely to be groundless and brought in bad faith." Newell, 91 Ill. App. 3d at 747.
Third, today's society is aware of the one-sidedness of a complaint and can evaluate the actual worth of the information contained therein. Newell, 91 Ill. App. 3d at 747-48.
Fourth, a pleading filed in a legal proceeding is a public record and should be open to the public's inspection at all times. Newell, 91 Ill. App. 3d at 748.