Ashley I. Kissinger

Of Counsel

kissingera@ballardspahr.com
Tel 303.376.2407
Fax 303.296.3956
Boulder
Tel 303.376.2407
Fax 303.296.3956
Denver

Ashley Kissinger is an experienced litigator representing media and entertainment companies in First Amendment and related matters nationwide. Ashley defends complex defamation, invasion of privacy, and copyright cases, and she works closely with clients to help them publish and broadcast their work with minimal risk. She fights for access to government, and she fights against government censorship. Ashley leverages her media law expertise to defend non-media companies facing copyright and defamation lawsuits, and advise them concerning their social media and other communications.

Ashley is recognized as a national leader on anonymous internet speech law. She is also an advocate for the development of a free and independent press in the Arabian Peninsula. Ashley has drafted proposed amendments to press laws, helped reporters develop a code of ethics, and taught free expression law to lawyers, editors, and journalists in Yemen, Kuwait, Jordan, and elsewhere in the region.

Ashley was a partner for 13 years at the highly regarded First Amendment boutique law firm Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, LLP, which merged with Ballard Spahr in 2017.

Judicial Clerkship

Hon. Sam Sparks of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas

Representative Experience

  • Landman v. Scott, No. 1:19-cv-01367-REB-STV (D. Colo. 2019). With the ACLU, successfully represented constituent in First Amendment civil rights action against state senator who had blocked her from commenting on his social media pages. The senator agreed to unblock the constituent and pay $25,000 in attorney’s fees, and agreed to entry of a court order reciting the outcome of social media blocking cases nationwide.
  • Nichols v. Mincks, No. 18 OT 61 (Ohio Ct. Comm. Pleas, Washington Cty. 2019). Obtained summary judgment in defamation action arising from television station’s broadcast of news report identifying plaintiff as a rape suspect.
  • Cooper v. WOWT-TV Channel 6 Gray Television Group Inc., No. CI-18-2674 (Neb. Dist. Ct., Douglas Cty. 2018). Obtained dismissal of defamation action arising from televised news reports concerning misdemeanor charge arising from a dispute over a parking ticket.
  • Elec. Frontier Found. v. Global Entity Mgmt. (SA), Pty Ltd, 290 F. Supp. 3d 923 (N.D. Cal. 2017). Obtained a declaratory judgment for digital rights leader EFF under the SPEECH Act, a federal statute enacted in 2010 to combat "libel tourism." The court held that an Australian defamation injunction attempting to censor EFF’s "Stupid Patent of the Month" column was repugnant to U.S. law and public policy.
  • People v. Collins, No. 16CR1882 (Colo. Dist. Ct., Boulder Cty. 2016). Successfully challenged, on behalf of the Boulder Daily Camera, a motion to seal the case file of a juvenile defendant charged as an adult with attempted murder. The court’s ruling recognized, as a matter of first impression in Colorado, a First Amendment right to access court records filed in criminal proceedings, even in cases involving juvenile defendants. Ashley also persuaded the court to vacate an unconstitutional prior restraint order it had entered earlier in the case that would have forbidden the newspaper from publishing information contained in an arrest warrant affidavit.
  • Dan Larscheid, D.D.S. v. Scripps Media, Inc. d/b/a/ KMGH-TV, No. 13-CV-33746 (Colo. Dist. Ct., Denver Cty. 2014). Successfully defended television station in a defamation action arising from an investigative news report. The court granted the station's motion to dismiss and awarded its attorneys' fees.
  • Hupp v. Freedom Communications, 221 Cal. App. 4th 398 (4th Dist. 2013). Successfully defended the Orange County Register against breach of contract and invasion of privacy claims based on the newspaper's refusal to remove reader comments posted on its website. The trial court's dismissal of the suit under California’s anti-SLAPP statute was upheld on appeal and the court awarded the paper its attorneys' fees.
  • Webb v. CBS Broadcasting Inc., 2011 WL 4062488 (N.D. Ill. 2011). Successfully defended Chicago television station WBBM-TV against claims that it invaded plaintiffs' privacy and caused emotional distress by filming them in the backyard of a home in connection with a CBS news report. The case stands as a significant precedent vindicating the news media's right to photograph persons and activities in "plain view" from a public street.
  • Rossignol v. Voorhaar, 316 F.3d 516 (4th Cir. 2003). Successfully represented Maryland newspaper publisher in civil rights action against government officials, securing a landmark ruling  that the defendants' off-duty mass purchase of newspapers on the eve of an election, to suppress the newspaper’s contents and retaliate against the publisher, violated the publisher’s First Amendment rights. The officials paid the publisher close to a half million dollars in settlement of the action.

Professional Activities

Co-Chair, Digital Law Conference 2021, Media Law Resource Center

Member, McClatchy Journalism Institute Board of Directors

Past Co-Chair, ABA First Amendment and Media Litigation Committee

Past Co-Chair, ABA Women in Communications Law Committee

ABA Forum on Communications Law

International Senior Lawyers Project

Colorado Bar Association

Colorado Women's Bar Association

Boulder County Bar Association

Former Adjunct Instructor in Law of Mass Communications, Trinity Washington University

Recognition & Accomplishments

The Best Lawyers in America, Litigation-First Amendment, 2020

Super Lawyers, Colorado Media & Advertising, 2019-20

5280 Top Lawyer in Media/First Amendment law, 2015-2020 

Recognized individually by The Legal 500 US as part of the nation's top-ranked First Amendment law practice, with clients describing her as "intellectually keen" and "a pleasure to work with."

Law Week Colorado, People's Choice for Best Communications/Media Law Attorney, 2015

Publications

"Anonymous Online Speech," Communications Law in the Digital Age, Practising Law Institute, 2019

"Government Attorneys—Tell Your Clients They Can't Censor People on Social Media," Bloomberg Law Insight, September 3, 2019

"Second Circuit Affirms That President Trump's Blocking of Opponents on His Twitter Account Violates First Amendment," Ballard Spahr alert, July 10, 2019

"Recent Developments in Media, Privacy, Defamation, and Advertising Law," ABA Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal, Spring 2019

"Federal Court Applies SPEECH Act to Declare Foreign Libel Injunction Unenforceable in the United States," Ballard Spahr alert, November 2017 

"The Truth About Fake News," The Financial Manager, May/June 2017

"The Internet: Anonymous Speakers to the Single-Publication Rule," Newsletter of the ABA Litigation Section’s First Amendment and Media Litigation Committee, Winter 2011

"Untangling the Legal Labyrinth: Protections for Anonymous Online Speech," Journal of Internet Law (Aspen Publishers), Vol. 13 No. 9, March 2010

"Shielding Jane and John: Can the Media Protect Anonymous Online Speech?" Communications Lawyer, ABA Forum on Communications Law, July 2009

"Policing Privacy: How U.S. Law Navigates the Boundary Between Free Speech and Private Facts," Media Law Resource Center, September 2007

"Civil Rights and Professional Wrongs: A Female Lawyer’s Dilemma," 73 Texas Law Review 1419, May 1995

Speaking Engagements

"Protecting Anonymous Online Speech," Media Law Resource Center, Digital Law Conference, San Francisco, May 21, 2019

"Litigating Online Speech Cases: Perspectives from Both Sides of the Bar," Colorado Women's Bar Association Annual Convention, May 18, 2019

"Help Your Business Clients Reduce Risk from Social Media Posts and Other Communications," Colorado Bar Association – Business Law Institute, Denver, September 12, 2018

"How to Keep Your Clients (and Yourself!) From Getting Sued for Defamation," Colorado Bar Association, Englewood, Colorado, April 5, 2018

"Hold the Presses? But I Thought the Student Press was 'Independent'!" National Association of College and University Attorneys, Washington, D.C., February 1, 2018

"Corporate Communications: The Legal Minefields and How to Avoid Them," Boulder County Bar Association, Boulder, Colorado, June 14, 2017

"Privacy and the Media," University of Colorado Law School (Guest Lecturer), Boulder, Colorado, September 8, 2016

"The Hottest Ethical Issues: Native Advertising, Virtual Reality, and 360 Video," Media Financial Management Association 56th Annual Conference, Denver, Colorado, May 25, 2016

"Investigative Journalism: What are the Legal and Ethical Boundaries?" Media Financial Management Association 53rd Annual Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana, May 21, 2013

"Ethics in Media: What Risks Arise When Journalists Use Social Media?" Media Financial Management Association 52nd Annual Conference, Las Vegas, Nevada, May 22, 2012

"Legal Risks Online," Colorado Broadcasters Association, Denver, Colorado, March 2, 2012

"Unmasking John Doe: The Law Governing Subpoenas for Anonymous Online Speakers," Denver Internet Lawyers Working Group, Denver, Colorado, March 3, 2011

"The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same? Protection for Defamatory, Offensive and Anonymous Speech in the Analog and Digital Eras," ABA Forum on Communications Law 16th Annual Conference, Rancho Mirage, California, February 4, 2011

"Yemeni Journalist Syndicate Working Sessions," International Research and Exchanges Board Inc. (IREX), Amman, Jordan, May 24-27, 2009

"Navigating Your Way Through Legal Issues on the Web," Radio-Television News Directors Association, Las Vegas, Nevada, April 2009

"Rights of Protestors, Demonstrators and the Press," presentation for Denver-area law enforcement agencies in connection with the Democratic National Convention, Denver, Colorado, June 13, 2008

"Media Law in the Gulf: Judiciary and Freedom of Press Workshop," International Research and Exchanges Board Inc. (IREX), Kuwait City, Kuwait, June 9-10, 2007

"International Freedom of Expression Law," training for Kuwaiti journalists, editors, lawyers, and government officials hosted by Kuwait Journalists Association (on a grant from Middle East Partnership Initiative, U.S. Department of State), June 4-6, 2007, Kuwait City, Kuwait

"Media Laws in the Arabian Gulf and Yemen: Opportunities and Challenges," International Research and Exchanges Board Inc. (IREX), Amman, Jordan, December 7-8, 2006

University of Texas School of Law (J.D. 1995, with honors)

Associate Editor, Texas Law Review

Stanford University (A.B. 1990)

Stanford-in-Florence, Florence, Italy, Spring 1989

California

Colorado

Texas

District of Columbia

U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, Tenth, and District of Columbia Circuits

U.S. District Courts for the District of Colorado

U.S. District Courts for the Central and Northern Districts of California

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland

U.S. District Courts for the Northern and Western Districts of Texas