The Supreme Court has recognized that “discovery … may seriously implicate privacy interests.” However, the precise contours of a party’s privacy interest may expand or contract depending on the public’s interest in either the party or the information at issue….The Third Circuit [i.e., the federal court of appeals that has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, where the case is being litigated -EV] has recognized a curtailment of this interest for persons holding public office. Although it has not expressly extended this principle to “public figures” outside the category of office holders, [the Third Circuit precedents] suggest that the privacy interest may be diminished when a party seeking to use it as a shield “is a public person subject to legitimate public scrutiny.”Although Defendant is a public person in the sense that his name, fame, and brand are worldwide in scope, he does not surrender his privacy rights at the doorstep of the courthouse. Were this so, well-known nongovernmental public figures, visible in the public eye but pursuing strictly private activities, would be subject to spurious litigation brought perchance to gain access to the intimate details of their personal lives. Under these circumstances, the potential for abuse is high.This case, however, is not about Defendant’s status as a public person by virtue of the exercise of his trade as a televised or comedic personality. Rather, Defendant has donned the mantle of public moralist and mounted the proverbial electronic or print soap box to volunteer his views on, among other things, childrearing, family life, education, and crime [citing the Pound Cake speech and others]. To the extent that Defendant has freely entered the public square and “thrust himself into the vortex of th[ese] public issue[s],” Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., 418 U.S. 323, 352 (1974), he has voluntarily narrowed the zone of privacy that he is entitled to claim.
July 7, 2015 at 3:55 PM EDT