Apparently, some holds are barred.
Terry Gene Bollea, the former wrestling superstar known as Hulk Hogan, is seeking to block the public and press from viewing a sex tape at the center of a $100 million invasion of privacy lawsuit against Gawker Media. Earlier this month, attorneys for Bollea filed a motion arguing that the playing of the tape for the press and public in attendance during the trial would further erode his privacy.
"Having the public present during presentation of the Sex Video likely will prejudice Mr. Bollea with the jury," the motion read. "Giving an audience to the playing of the Sex Video may legitimize its publication by Gawker with the jury, and audible and visually recognizable reactions from the public likely will taint the jurors' own perception."
Unsurprisingly, Gawker Media filed a response on Friday arguing against this partial closure of the courtroom.
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"The central issue in this case is whether it was legally permissible to publish the Video Excerpts because they relate to matters of public concern," one section read. "For this Court to conclude that the Excerpts are so private that it is necessary to clear the courtroom before they are played would be to pre-judge the very issue it is the jury's job to decide, and to do so in a way that makes clear to the jury how this Court thinks that issue should be decided," one response read.
The trial, set to begin on July 6, is centered around Gawker.com's 2012 publication of a sex tape showing Bollea and a friend's ex-wife getting it on. The video has since been taken down, but Bollea wants $100 million in exchange for what he is calling an invasion of privacy. Gawker, which also publishes sites such as Jezebel, Deadspin and Gizmodo, has contended that Bollea is a public figure who has chosen in the past to talk about his sex life publicly. As a result, Gawker believes the video's publication is protected under the First Amendment.
Gawker tried to settle the case before it went to trial but could not reach an agreement with Bollea. A loss could potentially cripple the 260-person privately-held company, founded by the journalist Nick Denton.
Bollea's attorney told the journalism news site Poynter that he doesn't want to clear out the courtroom during the video's viewing; instead, he wants the video screens showing the tape to be set it up in a way so that only the jury, judge and lawyers can view them.