December 11, 2002
A federal appeals court ruled on December 13, 2002 that a Virginia prison warden could not sue two Connecticut newspapers in Virginia court over articles about the conditions in which Connecticut inmates were being held under a contract with a Virginia prison. The articles were posted on the papers' web sites. The appeals court held that the fact that the newspapers' websites could be accessed anywhere, including Virginia, was not by itself sufficient to subject them to Virginia law. In order to be hauled into court in Virginia, the Connecticut newspapers must have had the "manifest intent of targeting Virginia readers." The US decision contrasted with the recent decision by the High Court of Australia in Gutnick v. Dow Jones, finding that the Australian courts have jurisdiction over an American publisher in large part because the publisher's website was accessible in Australia.