A technicality has delayed the trial, which will test First Amendment and revenge porn issues.
Today in the wild world of Bollea vs. Clem et al., otherwise known as the Hulk Hogan/Gawker sex tape case, the trial date of July 6th was postponed after an appellate court determined that the trial date had not been properly set according to Florida law.
A Gawker spokesman confirmed that last month, an appellate court had ruled that Hogan did not have grounds to sue Gawker's Hungarian component, Blogwire Hungary Szellemi Alkotást Hasznosító Korlátolt Felelősségű Társaság, a ruling that came down too close to the trial date, as Florida law dictates that the plaintiffs and defendants in a jury trial have to be finalized at least 20 days before the trial begins.
Judge Pamela Campbell, however, failed to reschedule the trial, leaving open the possibility of a messy outcome after trial, with either party free to appeal on that technicality.
Gawker's lawyers sought, and today won, a new trial date, which is yet to be determined.
The trial, which will determine whether Gawker infringed on the privacy rights of Hulk Hogan (real name Terry Bollea) in publishing a 101-second video excerpt of Hogan having intimate relations with Heather Clem, is expected to take ten days.
This gives Gawker more time to obtain and review evidence in the case gathered by the FBI in a related investigation. The move represents a setback for the Hogan camp, which had fought hard for the July 6th date, and strengthens the impression from the other side that Judge Campbell has been more receptive to Hogan's objectives. "The circuit court case is ongoing, and it has darkened our door more than once," the Second District Court of Appeals judges observed gloomily, in today's opinion.
The trial provides a stark illustration of the difficulties inherent in balancing privacy rights with the values of a free press in the internet era. Clem herself had been a defendant in the case, and it was also confirmed in court today that Hogan has now settled with her. This leaves only the Gawker defendants in the final lawsuit, which is shaping up to be a First Amendment cage match for the ages.