Washington Law Review


Cathy Parker


This Note examines Bose to determine whether the Court intended to totally reject Rule 52(a) as completely inapplicable in determinations of actual malice. It concludes that independent review should not replace Rule 52(a) in actual malice cases but rather should serve a separate function to ensure that the reasoning of district courts complies with constitutional legal principles. The Note further suggests that Bose created a new rule of law protecting the media from suit where defendants have simply used "imprecise language" in reporting. In addition, because of the ambiguitites in the Court's opinion, the case can support not only the interpretation favored here but also an interpretation that rejects the application of Rule 52(a) to actual malice findings. This Note argues that the latter interpretation should be rejected on policy grounds. Among the possible results of this interpretation are greater numbers of libel cases in an already overcrowded court system, and a weakened respect for district court judges. Further, the latter interpretation should be discarded clearly and quickly because the co-existence of two plausible interpretations of the case will result in confusion among members of the media and private citizens with libel claims.

First Page