The Law Won't Help Palin Get Rid of Author

He might be a creep, but that ain't illegal
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 28, 2010 3:35 PM CDT
The fence between former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's lakeside home, top left, and the home being rented by author Joe McGinniss is seen Thursday, May 27, 2010, in Wasilla, Alaska.   (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

(Newser) – Sarah Palin has called Joe McGinniss, the author who moved in next door, a “stalker,” so couldn't she just take out a restraining order on him? Nope, sorry. As Christopher Beam of Slate explains, a stalker is, according to Alaskan law, a person who “recklessly places another person in fear of death or physical injury.” Palin probably doesn't have reason to believe McGinniss will kneecap her.

An invasion of privacy lawsuit would fail, too: “Peering into your neighbor's yard from your porch might be creepy, but it's not illegal.” And while journalists don't get any special privileges under the law, courts do take intent into account when deciding harassment cases—not that McGinniss' actions qualify as harassment, either. In general, journalists have to go pretty far to get busted for invading privacy while news gathering; it's happened only a handful of times.

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