Daily Briefs

First Amendment and media law expert joins Jaffe as of counsel

Prominent First Amendment and media law expert Herschel Fink is now of counsel to Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss, P.C., where he will continue his practice representing news organizations, media and entertainment companies.

Fink is currently legal counsel to USA Today Network’s six Michigan newsrooms, including the Detroit Free Press that he has represented for almost 35 years, and will continue to represent separately. Previously, he was a senior partner at a leading Detroit law firm, where he headed its media law practice for 35 years. Prior, Fink spent a decade before and during law school as a reporter and editor on major daily newspapers.

“We are delighted to welcome Herschel to the Jaffe team,” said Jaffe CEO?William Sider. “His unique expertise and prestigious track record of success will be invaluable to our Michigan business clients.”

In his legal career, Fink has represented national television networks, local TV stations, national wire services, and numerous newspapers and national magazines in libel, privacy and related matters. He has successfully defended motion picture studios, authors and entertainment industry figures in numerous copyright, privacy and defamation cases.

He successfully defended rap music icon Dr. Dre in a 10-year long First Amendment fight, ultimately winning in the Michigan Supreme Court. In another high-profile case, he successfully defended documentary film maker Michael Moore in a libel suit over his Academy Award winning film, “Bowling for Columbine,” against the brother of one of the Oklahoma City federal building bombers, who was featured in the film. In another case, lasting 12 years, he led the successful federal court defense of a Detroit Free Press reporter against efforts to force him to disclose a confidential source.

One of Fink’s career highlights was successfully taking on the U.S. Justice Department on behalf of the Detroit Free Press over its post 9-11 secret deportation proceedings of persons deemed security threats, prompting Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Damon Keith to agree in a celebrated decision that “Democracies die behind closed doors.”

Fink earned a Juris Doctor degree from Michigan State University College of Law and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Wayne State University in Detroit. He earned the Society of Professional Journalists National First Amendment Award “for extraordinarily strong efforts to preserve and strengthen the First Amendment.” The Society’s Michigan Chapter also awarded him a “Lifetime Achievement Award,” the first time a non-journalist was honored. He has also been listed in every edition of America’s Best Lawyers in First Amendment law during his private practice, was named a Crain’s Detroit Business “Power Lawyers” and was honored by Michigan Lawyer’s Weekly as one of its “Leaders in the Law.”

Notably, the prestigious Chambers and Partners in its “Band One” ranking said, “Herschel Fink makes his way into the table on the strength of his ‘nationally recognized, groundbreaking’ First Amendment practice, representing high-profile newspapers, broadcasting and celebrity clients.

His expertise in this area is such that ‘everybody listens to him,’ a fact evinced by his regular participation in addressing the state judiciary on such matters as the presence of the press in the courtroom.”

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