Time, Inc. v. Pape

LOCATION: United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division

DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1970-1971)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: 401 US 279 (1971)
ARGUED: Dec 16, 1970
DECIDED: Feb 24, 1971
GRANTED: Apr 27, 1970

Don H. Reuben - for the petitioner
Patrick W. Dunne - for the respondent

Facts of the case

In November 1961, the Civil Rights Commission released the fifth volume of its report for the year. One section of it focused on police brutality and made reference to the Supreme Court case Monroe v. Pape. The case was based on allegations that Detective Pape and other officers broke into the Monroe apartment, assaulted the Monroes, and took Mr. Monroe to the police station where he was held for ten hours without being charged or advised of his procedural rights. A week after the report was released, Time Magazine published an article that quoted extensively from the report’s coverage of the allegations without ever explicitly stating that they were allegations rather than findings.

Pape sued Time, Inc. for libel in district court and Time moved for dismissal. The district court granted the motion, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded the case. In the intervening time, the Supreme Court decided New York Times v. Sullivan, which stated that a public official may not recover damages for a defamatory falsehood relating to his or her official conduct unless there is evidence the statements were made with actual malice. This decision became the basis for the district court granting summary judgment for Time, Inc. The Court of Appeals again reversed, and held that a jury must decide whether actual malice was present. After the third trial, the district court granted Time, Inc.’s motion for a directed verdict. The Court of Appeals reversed for a third time and held that the issue of actual malice was one for the jury to decide.


Did the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit correctly apply the precedent established by New York Times v. Sullivan?

Media for Time, Inc. v. Pape

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 16, 1970 in Time, Inc. v. Pape

Warren E. Burger:

We'll hear argument next in Number 109, Time Incorporated against Pape.

Don H. Reuben:

Mr. Chief Justice --

Warren E. Burger:

Mr. Reuben you may proceed whenever you are ready.

Don H. Reuben:

-- may it please the Court.

This suit for libel had its inception in a raid led by the respondent on the Westside Apartment of a black family in the City of Chicago in the year 1958.

The family's name was Monroe and at that time the respondent was the Deputy Chief of Detectives of the City of Chicago.

Shortly after the raid, the Monroe family brought an action in the Federal District Court of Chicago, alleging that the raiding party and specifically that the respondent, Captain Pape broke the doors down, woke the Monroe couple with flashlights, forced them at gunpoint to leave their bed and stand naked in the center of the living room, roused the six children that were in the apartment at that time, herded them into the living room.

That the respondent struck Mr. Monroe several times with his flashlight, calling him nigger and black boy.

That another officer pushed Mrs. Monroe.

That the children were hit and kicked and that the police ransacked every room, throwing clothing from closets to the floor, dumping drawers and ripping mattress covers and the like.

The cause ultimately reached this Court and this Court held in 1961 in Monroe versus Pape that a cause of action was stated on behalf of Monroe and against Captain Pape.

Then in November of 1961, the Civil Rights Commission issued it's Fifth Report which it had entitled “Justice.”

Pertinent excerpts of justice appear in Appendix 323.

Chapter 2 of “Justice” deals with police violence and is headed “Unlawful Police Violence.”

The Commission says, in Chapter 2, that the allegations of misconduct are supported in several cases by criminal convictions or findings by impartial agencies, in others by sworn testimony, affidavit from an eye witness, or by staff field investigations.

In no case, as the Commission determined conclusively, whether the complaints of the officers were correct in their statements.

This is the function of a court.

The Commission said “It was of the opinion that the allegations appeared substantial enough to justify discussion in this study.”

There was a heading “Patterns of Police Brutalities,” a sub heading “Enforcement of segregation or subordinate status,” punishment; third, the third degree in coercion of confessions and the forth section was initial contact and arrest and under the heading “Search, seizure and violence: Chicago 1958,” the Commission discussed the case or the actions of Captain Pape.

The Commission did so by using the language of the dissent of Justice Frankfurter in Monroe versus Pape and the Commission's lead was to say, the Supreme Court of the United State's decided the case of Monroe versus Pape on February 20, 1961.

Although this decision did not finally dispose of the case, it did permit the plaintiff to sue several Chicago police officers for violation of the Federal Civil Rights Act on the basis of a compliant which alleged that and then Justice Frankfurter's opinion was quoted.

Time Incorporated, upon receiving the Commission report, wrote an article and published it in the ensuing edition of Time.

That article appears in hike verb (ph) in our brief at page 8, it's called “Civil Rights.”

The respondent sued for libel.

The case was decided by the district judge on motion prior to this Court's decision in New York Times.

The district judge dismissed the cause.

The Court of Appeals, with one judge dissenting, reversed.

Thereafter when the case was remanded, the plaintiff's position -- Captain Pape's position was taken, the Court's decision in New York Times had come down.

A motion for summary judgment was made.

It was granted on the basis of New York Times.