Duane Morris LLP announced that Cynthia Counts, the founder of Counts Law Firm, a media law firm, has joined Duane Morris as a partner in its Atlanta office. Counts focuses her practice on media and First Amendment law, including issues dealing with libel, copyright and privacy.
An experienced litigator with more than 20 years of trial and appellate experience, Counts defends newspapers, websites, television stations, businesses and individuals in libel matters, as well as breach of contract, invasion of privacy, fraud and promissory estoppel cases.
She also represents media and publishing companies in pre-publication review matters and in emergency court hearings to contest unconstitutional prior restraints, motions for injunctions, to quash subpoenas on the basis of reporter’s privilege and to gain access to court proceedings or public documents.
Counts is best known for her aggressive practice achieving results through motion practice, and for her success in winning libel cases outright in the early stages of litigation, before expensive discovery becomes necessary. In that regard, Counts has been at the forefront of the quest for a broad application of Georgia’s anti-SLAPP statute which was enacted in 1996 to provide an early mechanism for the dismissal of harassing libel litigation.
“Cynthia’s litigation experience and through knowledge of media and First Amendment issues adds an important dimension to the services we offer clients,” said Matthew Taylor, Chairman of the Firm’s Trial Practice Group. “We look forward to putting her abilities to work for our clients, and those she is bringing with her.”
Counts’ recent outcomes have included:
- Dismissal of a defamation claim against CBS affiliate by physician investigated in cosmetic surgery deaths (2015)
- Summary judgment for a reality TV performer in a libel claim over comments she made on her network show (2015)
- Early summary judgment for hosts of a popular Spanish radio program sued for libel over satirical comments on their show (2015)
- Voluntary dismissal of a libel claim against a whistleblower in a Department of State matter involving alleged contract fraud (2014)
- An 11th Circuit order for sanctions of $545,000 against plaintiffs who filed a frivolous libel claim against a Rolls Royce club member (2008)
Counts has also litigated successfully for individual clients with free speech concerns, including (a man?) wanting to speak out about assisted suicide in a state that tried to prohibit such speech; individuals facing anti-gay discrimination in requests for vanity license plates, and others wrongfully arrested for verbally criticizing law enforcement, and for uttering profanities at a public meeting.
She is a sought-after commentator and writer on libel, privacy, Internet, the First Amendment and open government law. In 2014, she became a member of the governing board of the American Bar Association Forum on Communications Law. She is a director of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation and chairs the Media Law Resource Center’s Newsgathering Committee.
Counts is also is an adjunct professor at Emory University, teaching media law at Emory University Law School and, formerly, press issues in the undergraduate journalism program. She was selected a Georgia Super Lawyer in 2014 and 2015.
Counts is a 1992 graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law and a 1989 cum laude graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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