In recent years, Mr. Sanford has represented President Clinton in the negotiation and publication of a book and won libel and copyright cases brought against First Lady Barbara Bush and John Grisham, respectively. He has defended The New York Times in a seminal libel case brought by an author against the Times’ Book Review and won a five-year controversial lawsuit for Esquire magazine brought by former White House National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane.
Mr. Sanford is general counsel to the Society of Professional Journalists, the largest and oldest organization of journalists in the United States, and he has represented most of the leading national news media and book publishers including the E.W. Scripps Co., Tribune Co., The Hearst Corporation, ABC, NBC, Fox Television, AOL/Time Warner, National Geographic, Random House, Simon & Schuster and Bertelsmann, A.G.
Mr. Sanford has defended more than 1,000 libel, intellectual property and First Amendment cases throughout the United States, Canada and abroad, including libel cases brought by a Chicago politician, the chief of police of Birmingham, Alabama, a former U.S. Ambassador to Chile, a girlfriend of Elvis Presley, a boyfriend of Vanna White, the founder of Rockwell International, professional football legends and an Internet merchandiser.
An accomplished author, Mr. Sanford wrote the best-selling trade book, Don’t Shoot the Messenger: How Our Growing Hatred of the Media Threatens Free Speech for All of Us, published in hardcover in 1999 by The Free Press (a division of Simon & Schuster) and in paperback in 2001 by Rowman & Littlefield. The book received substantial critical acclaim, including the Baltimore Sun which termed it “the most intelligently disciplined book on the role of a free press”; The Boston Globe, which said “Sanford transforms media criticism into something resembling fun”; and USA Today, which called it “important and thought-provoking.” Newsweek’s Evan Thomas said the book was “lively, vivid and at the same time subtle and knowing,” and Larry King reviewed it as “brilliant, a must-read” and selected it as his Book of the Week.
Mr. Sanford is also the author of two major works on libel and privacy: the 40-page Sanford’s Synopsis of Libel and Privacy (World Almanac Books) and the 900-page treatise, Libel and Privacy (Aspen Law and Business).
While best known for his First Amendment work, Mr. Sanford practices in other areas as well. He has served as outside corporate counsel to biotechnology and agribusiness leader Pioneer Hi-Bred International, headquartered in Des Moines, and is counsel to the Edward W. Scripps Trust which owns the controlling interest in the E.W. Scripps Co.
Mr. Sanford, trained as a corporate and securities lawyer, has handled numerous public and private financings, mergers, acquisitions and other business transactions for both closely held and FORTUNE 500 public companies. Similarly, he has worked on major internal investigations mandated by corporate boards or the Securities and Exchange Commission. Within BakerHostetler, he has served 15 years on the 12-person governing body of the 800-lawyer national law firm.
Mr. Sanford is a former intern of Dow Jones’ Newspaper Fund and former staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal prior to attending law school. He is a member of the bars of New York, Ohio, Maryland, the District of Columbia and the Supreme Court of the United States, and has consulted on various transactional matters in England, Canada, Hong Kong and other countries.
Mr. Sanford is a charter Trustee and Chairman of the Board of The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression at the University of Virginia, and for 16 years served on the Board of the National Symphony Orchestra of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He has also served as a member of the governing body of the Washington National Cathedral, president of the 13,000-member National Cathedral Association (2003 to 2005) and has served as a member of the governing boards of the National Cathedral School for Girls and the National Presbyterian School in Washington. Mr. Sanford also serves on the boards of WETA, the flagship PBS station in the nation’s capital, the International Center for Journalists and The Media Institute, where he chaired the First Amendment Advisory Council.
Active in civic and philanthropic affairs, he has chaired the 10th Anniversary benefit for the National Law Center for Homelessness and Poverty and, with his wife, was chair of the Centennial Gala of the Washington National Cathedral—a first-ever, black tie dinner in the Nave of the Cathedral on November 9, 2007—to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Cathedral. He is a member of the advisory board of the Media Law Reporter, published with a grant from the Ford Foundation by the Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. In the American Bar Association, he has served as Chairman of the Defamation Committee of the Torts and Insurance Section, as a member of the Governing Board of the Forum Committee on Communications Law and as an Associate Editor and member of the Editorial Board of Litigation Magazine. In 1996, he was elected to the Freedom of Information Hall of Fame by a coalition of major press organizations, and in 2006 he received the Harold Hitz Burton Award for distinguished public service from the Cleveland Club of Washington.
In the 1970s, Mr. Sanford practiced in the Cleveland office of BakerHostetler where the judges of the Common Pleas Court bench appointed him chairman of the board of the tax-supported Cuyahoga County Public Library, one of the largest and most well-funded library systems in the nation.
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