Week 4 – Discussion 1
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Your initial discussion thread is due on Day 3 (Thursday) and you have until Day 7 (Monday) to respond to your classmates. Your grade will reflect both the quality of your initial post and the depth of your responses. Refer to the Discussion Forum Grading Rubric under the Settings icon above for guidance on how your discussion will be evaluated.
|Howard Cunningham Is Being Appointed for Office!|
In 1968 Howard Cunningham was charged in Daytona Beach, Florida, with having sex with a minor. Howard was a senior at the University of Tennessee enjoying a spring break when he had a brief fling with a young woman who, he said, told him she was a junior at the University of Michigan, also on spring break. Actually, she was a 15-year-old sophomore at Daytona Beach High School. Because the girl was a minor, the court hearing was held behind closed doors (This was possible in 1968). The judge ruled that Howard had technically violated the law and found him guilty. But because the evidence regarding what Howard actually knew or thought he knew about the girl’s age was ambiguous at best, the judge sentenced Howard to one-year probation, which he could serve back in Tennessee. The court record was never sealed, but stored in a file in a back room at the courthouse.
Today Howard is a prominent Houston businessman who owns a giant software company. He is active in community affairs and the Republican Party. The White House announced in April that Howard was being considered for appointment to the President’s Task Force on Interactive Media Services.
The Houston Sun received a package from Florida containing the court file from the 1968 case. With the file was a letter from the woman with whom Howard had sex in 1968. In the letter she said she believed Howard had taken advantage of her, that she had told him she was only 15 at the time, but that he forced himself on her. Her family feared the publicity and refused to let her fully prosecute the matter. She said she had followed Howard’s career and was appalled that he might be named to an important government committee. She said it was time the truth was told. She got the file, she said, from the courthouse. While theoretically it had been open since it was filed, no one ever looked at it because few people even knew it existed.
The Sun tried to contact Cunningham, but he refused to have anything to do with the newspaper, which he said, was a “liberal rag.” The paper sent a photographer to his house for a photo, but he could not even reach the door of the gated property. He instead waited on a public street outside the gate and took a picture of Howard while he practiced putting a golf ball on the front lawn. They used this photo with a story about the 1968 incident.
Howard sued the newspaper for invasion of privacy. He said the Florida incident was ancient history, unknown to any of his family members, business associates, and friends. He argued that the publication of the story was clearly a publication of private facts. When the photographer took his picture while he was on his private property relaxing on his front lawn, this was an intrusion upon his seclusion.
- What will Howard have to prove to win his private facts case? Will he win the case? Explain your answer.
- What will Howard have to prove to win his intrusion case? Will he win the case? Explain your answer.
- Would this case be decided differently if Howard was not a public figure? Why or why not?
Your initial post should be at least 250 words in length. Support your claims with examples from the assigned and/or recommended resources, and properly cite any references. Respond to at least two of your classmates’ posts by Day 7.