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The Hulk Hogan Versus Gawker Showdown Has Been Indefinitely Postponed

The trial may not take place until next year.
July 6, 2015, 9:59pm

Hulk Hogan's sex tape lawsuit against Gawker has taken a few more wild turns in recent days. Last Thursday, an eleventh-hour appellate court decision required the state court judge to reschedule the trial, which had been scheduled to begin today.

Instead, the hearing for setting a new trial date will take place October 20th. That means the trial itself may not occur until 2016.

To recap, the case concerns the October 2012 publication of a 101-second edited video of Hogan having sex with his then-best friend's wife. Hogan says the story constituted an invasion of privacy, while Gawker says the video was newsworthy, and its publication protected by the First Amendment. After a federal judge made an intermediate ruling in favor of Gawker, Hogan dropped the case in federal court and headed to a state court in Florida.

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A ruling in favor of Hogan in Florida could have serious implications for the free press. As we've written before, the First Amendment is often shored up in obscenity cases. Meanwhile, a judgement for Hogan would reflect the growing awareness that technology in the modern age has warped expectations and defense of privacy.

Gawker's lawyers still have work to do in order to gain access to additional evidence they see as crucial. After a protracted court battle, on June 24th a federal court judge ordered the FBI to comply with Gawker's Freedom of Information Act request for evidence gathered by the agency in a related investigation.

According to transcripts from a July 2nd hearing in the matter, more Hogan-and-Clem sex tapes were obtained by the FBI in a related investigation, in addition to audio tapes and over one thousand documents.

As philly.com's Dan Gross reported in October 2012, those who have viewed additional sex tapes of Hogan and Clem have said that they feature Hogan "using the N-word and making other derogatory remarks about black people."

Gawker's lawyers claim that the evidence they've received so far from the FBI has been improperly redacted. For one example, the FBI's own head of records had described the DVD recordings in an early affidavit, stating that each one contained a sexual encounter between Hogan and Heather Clem. Gawker's lawyers said in court that one of the three recordings they eventually received is just over a minute long, and is of a bed, all by itself, with no people in it at all.

Gawker's lawyers will seek the missing material in the additional months they've been granted before the hearing in October. Either way, as one person involved in the matter said, "there's a lot of baseball left to play."