Tags: ACLU | Sued | for | Invasion | Privacy

ACLU Sued for Invasion of Privacy

Friday, 07 September 2001 12:00 AM

The number of times the ACLU has dragged others into court for every conceivable abrogation of political correctness would be hard to assess. This time it's the ACLU that's on the other end of the litigation stick.

It has to do with a suit filed in a county court in Nashville, Tenn., by a university sophomore who says the ACLU invaded his privacy by publishing his photograph depicting him as a convicted criminal in one of its issue advertisements.

The ACLU has an advertising campaign going against the evils of America's jam-packed prisons.

In this particular ad, designed to resemble a wanted poster, the headline reads: "They Finally Found an Answer to Overcrowded Prisons. Smaller Prisoners."

To illustrate the ACLU's point of view, there, displayed as if he were a juvenile prisoner, is the photo of one Jai Taylor.

Problem is Jai Taylor is no prisoner. Nor is he a wanted criminal.

What he really is are two other things:

Worse yet for the ACLU, his mom, Shirley A. Wallace, is right there with him. Together, mother and son filed suit in Davidson County Chancery Court, saying the ACLU never got Jai's permission to use his photo in the ad or told him it was going to use it.

The ad does more than display Jai's likeness. Its text recounts court cases in which juveniles have been prosecuted as adults for crimes, subjecting, the ad says, "small and vulnerable" youths to "rape and violence" when imprisoned with adult criminals.

Jai and his mother are suing not only the ACLU – which ran the ad in such prominent places as New Yorker magazine and Savoy, a monthly catering to upscale black readers – but also the photographer and ACLU's advertising agency, DeVito/Verdi.

It seems the photo was taken back in 1997, when Jai, now 18, was but a freshman in high school. Jai and his mother acknowledge they granted the right to the photographer, Tamara Reynolds, who took the shot as part of a theater class, to use it only once – but in "a religious family magazine.''

Jai told the Nashville Tennessean he first became aware of the ad when another college student told him she had recognized his face in a magazine and asked:

"Are you on a work-release program? Is that how you are going to college?"

If Jai wins his suit, he will be able to answer: "No. The American Civil Liberties Union is having to pay me enough money to put me through four years of college and then graduate, medical or law school."

Not to mention an unspecified sum for punitive damages.

A spokeswoman for the ACLU dismissed Jai's lawsuit as "without merit" – which is precisely how some people feel about suits the ACLU has filed against them.

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The number of times the ACLU has dragged others into court for every conceivable abrogation of political correctness would be hard to assess. This time it's the ACLU that's on the other end of the litigation stick. It has to do with a suit filed in a county court in...
ACLU,Sued,for,Invasion,Privacy
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2001-00-07
Friday, 07 September 2001 12:00 AM
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