Tom Clyde represents print, television, internet and communications companies in an array of litigation in federal and state courts, with an emphasis on defending lawsuits challenging First Amendment protected speech. He has extensive experience in defending publishers and broadcasters against claims alleging defamation, invasion of privacy, copyright infringement and newsgathering misconduct. He also represents numerous internet-based publishers in connection with issues arising from blogging, anonymous speech, citizen journalism, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, user generated content, and electronic eavesdropping issues.
In addition to his in-court representation, Tom regularly vets content prior to its publication, including print and television news content, fiction and non-fiction books, and controversial internet speech. Tom is part of a team of attorneys that provides around the clock prepublication and prebroadcast counseling on content issues, including responding to threats of litigation. He has extensive expertise counseling clients on laws relating to the use of hidden cameras and other related newsgathering techniques.
Tom routinely represents clients seeking access to government records and proceedings. He has successfully litigated numerous actions under the Georgia Open Records Act, the Georgia Open Meetings Act, and the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. He also regularly represents clients seeking to unseal court records and to obtain permission to televise court proceedings.
- Defended network television studio and daytime television show host against claims that they invaded the privacy of a juvenile and her family because juvenile appeared on program examining sexual addiction.
- Represented book publisher against claims that its publication of author’s novel facilitated and promoted a fraudulent investment scheme.
- Defended television station and corporate parent against allegations of invasion of privacy premised on news report containing graphic depiction of victim of car accident.
- Represented book publisher accused of publishing novel that allegedly presented a real person in a defamatory manner.
- Defended newspaper and parent company against defamation case brought by exonerated suspect challenging more than twenty statements published in aftermath of Centennial Olympic Park bombing.
- Obtained dismissal of libel claims asserted against television and newspaper companies by veterinarian challenging reporting on sanctions issued by state agency.
- Obtained dismissal of libel claims brought against television station and corporate parent brought by education official and book author.
- Obtained dismissal of libel claims against newspaper and parent company brought by former U.S. Congressman challenging reporting on his involvement in criminal conspiracy.
Access to Court Proceedings
- Represented consortium of news organizations in seeking television access to trial proceedings in high profile murder triangle trial.
- Represented consortium of news organizations seeking access to proceedings and records in federal terrorism prosecution.
- Represented consortium of news organizations seeking access to proceedings and records in criminal prosecution of Brian Nichols for Atlanta courthouse shooting.
Open Records Act
- Prosecuted mediation action before the Georgia Attorney General’s Office to compel a county tax commissioner to disclose database revealing questionable practices in sales of millions of dollars of tax liens
- Prosecuted mediation action before Georgia Attorney General’s Office to obtain consent order against Atlanta Public Schools acknowledging past violations and requiring ongoing compliance with Georgia sunshine laws.
- Prevailed in state and appellate courts in legal action to compel disclosure of records relating to City of Atlanta’s bid for NASCAR Hall of Fame and Super Bowl.
Protection of News Sources
- Obtained reversal of order compelling jailing of journalists for failure to disclose confidential sources.
- Obtained reversal of court order restraining speech imposed on trial participants in high profile prosecution of church members.
Memberships and Activities
Board Member and Past Board President - The Georgia Innocence Project
Board Member and Co-Chair of Legal Committee - The Georgia First Amendment Foundation
Organizer - The Georgia Bar Media Judiciary Conference
Member and Past Co-Chair - Media Law Letter Committee, Media Law Resource Center
Member - American Bar Association, First Amendment and Media Litigation Committee
Editorial Board - Duke Law Journal, 1991-1992
Author – “Survey of Georgia Libel Law,” Libel Defense Resource Center, 1995 to 2012
Author – “The Open Government Guide: The Door to Open Government in Georgia,” The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, 1996 to 2012
Author – "The Reporter’s Privilege in Georgia," The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, 2002 to 2012
Co-Author – "Negative Issue Advertisements: A Practical Primer," Communications Lawyer, Summer 2004