|Duffy Carolan represents news, online and entertainment content providers in a variety of matters, including defamation, invasion of privacy, right of publicity, prior restraint, copyright, trademark, and Internet law issues at both the trial and appellate levels. She is newsroom counsel to over 40 California newspapers, providing 24/7 advice to reporters and editors on deadline. She often defends reporters and companies against subpoenas seeking unpublished source information, and regularly represents newspapers under the state’s adjudication statutes. Duffy has extensive experience representing news organizations and private citizens seeking to obtain access to public records and public meetings under the California Public Records Act, Freedom of Information Act, and Ralph M. Brown Act. As a former journalist, she regularly conducts newsroom training sessions on a variety of timely topics. She is past-president of the First Amendment Coalition and has been listed both in The Best Lawyers in America® and the Northern California edition of Super Lawyers for over a decade. In 2011 she was honored by the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists as “Counsel of the Year,” she was awarded special citations in 2020 and 2006 for her access work by this same organization, and in 2013 she was selected by her peers through The Best Lawyers in America® as San Francisco’s “Lawyer of the Year” in Litigation-First Amendment.
California Newspaper Partnership v. County of Alameda (Alameda County Superior Court, 2021). Obtained order under the Public Records Act requiring County to disclose names of long-term care facilities with COVID-19 infections and the number of infections and deaths at each facility over County’s objection that disclosure was prohibited under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
Christopher Boyd v. Embarcadero Media, Inc. (Santa Clara Superior Court, 2020). Obtained order in libel action striking complaint and awarding attorneys’ fees in favor of paper under the anti-SLAPP statute in matter involving newspaper’s reporting on qualifications of candidate for local school board.
West Valley Water District v. The Sun (San Bernardino County Superior Court, 2020). Defeated as an unconstitutional prior restraint on the press water district’s attempt to obtain an order prohibiting The Sun and its reporter from publishing any article gleaned from an internal investigation report lawfully obtained by the reporter and requiring the paper to destroy all copies of the report.
In Re Search Warrants of Bryan Carmody (First Amendment Coalition, RCFP, Nor Cal. SPJ)(San Francisco County Superior Court, 2019). Obtained five orders from separate superior court judges unsealing search warrants issued on freelance journalist Bryan Carmody to search his home, office and cell phones in connection with newsgathering materials Carmody lawfully obtained concerning the death of former San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi.
C.M. v. Superior Court of Riverside County (The Press-Enterprise) (Fourth District Court of Appeal, 2019). Obtained appellate court order denying County’s writ petition attempting to overturn juvenile court’s ruling granting The Press-Enterprise access to deceased juvenile’s case file related to high profile abuse and murder case.
State v. Joseph DeAngelo (Media Coalition)(Sacramento County Superior Court, 2018). Obtained order unsealing over 170 pages of warrant materials in Golden State Killer case upon joint motion brought on behalf of The Associated Press, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, California Newspaper Partnership, Sacramento Bee, San Francisco Chronicle and ABC News to unseal the investigatory materials.
State v. William Robicheaux (Orange County Register, AP, ABC News)(Orange County Superior Court, 2018). Obtained order reversing as an unconstitutional prior restraint on the media an order that prohibited press from reporting on search warrant materials and that authorized seizure of those materials from reporters who were present in court to cover the arraignment of a Newport Beach surgeon and his girlfriend accused of drugging and sexually assaulting multiple women.
Bay Area News Group v. Mt. Diablo Unified School Dist, (Contra Costa County Superior Court, 2016). Obtained order requiring disclosure of attorney-prepared investigation report pertaining to allegations of improper conduct of elementary school teacher later convicted of child molestation. Fee recovery of $225,000.00.
Applied Underwriters, Inc. v. Providence Publications, LLC, 913 F.3d 884 (9th Cir. 2019). Obtained decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirming a district court’s dismissal order under FRCP Rule 12(b)(6) in favor of news organization in a published decision holding that publication’s use of an insurance company’s trademarks in connection with an educational seminar was protected under the nominative fair use doctrine.
State Dep’t of Public Health v. Superior Ct. (The Center for Investigative Reporting), 60 Cal.4th 940 (2015). Obtained unanimous California Supreme Court opinion in action under the California Public Records Act by investigative news agency requiring Dep’t of Public Health to disclose citations chronicling abuse and neglect of residents at State-run long-term care facilities. Fee recovery of $499,000.00.
California Newspaper Partnership, San Jose Mercury News et al. v. California State Senate, (Sacramento County Superior Court, 2015). Obtained order under the Legislative Opens Records Act compelling Senate to release calendars of three indicted senators – Sen. Leland Yee, Sen. Ron Calderon and Sen. Roderick Wright. Fee recovery of $150,000.00.
Soc. of Professional Journalists/Nor Cal.
Counsel of the Year --2011
Special Citation-2020 & 2006
The Best Lawyers in America®
First Amendment Law and Media Law
San Francisco First Amendment
Lawyer of the Year, 2013
Media Law, 2004-present
First Amendment Coalition
Board of Directors & Exec. Cmte.
Center for Investigative Reporting
TIPS Media, Privacy and Defamation
UC Berkeley, School of Journalism
Adjunct Professor of Media Law
The Chauncey Bailey Project 2007-2011
Extern and Interim Law Clerk, Hon. D. Lowell Jensen, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (1990/ 1993)
University of San Francisco (JD, 1991)
Moot Court – Best oral argument.
Cal. Polytechnic University
(BS, Journalism, 1985)