Judge Saitta upholds First Amendment
Las Vegas Tribune
Front Page
November 14, 2001
By Steve Miller

For the third time in recent months, District Court Judge Nancy M. Saitta has denied a motion filed by topless club owner Frederick "Rick" Rizzolo.

A Wrongful Death lawsuit was reinstated on August 14 by Judge Saitta against Rizzolo's Motion for Dismissal. On September 14, Judge Saitta denied Rizzolo's Motion to Dismiss a Racketeering lawsuit. Then, on Tuesday morning, Rizzolo's attorneys, Dean Patti and Tony Sgro, failed again when their forty-page Motion to Gag the Las Vegas Tribune and writer Steve Miller was summarily dismissed.

The unprecedented motion to stop ongoing news coverage was brought by the politically influential topless club owner last month following a series of Tribune front page articles factually reporting beatings, robberies, and the death of a patron at his bar, the Crazy Horse Too.

Rizzolo contended that the Tribune coverage of these events was "prejudicing the juries" in upcoming trials. Judge Saitta disagreed.

The Tribune first reported that the family of Scott David Fau brought a wrongful death action after Fau was found beaten to death next to railroad tracks behind the Crazy Horse on Aug. 4, 1995. Witnesses reported seeing Fau being severely beaten by Rizzolo's employees in the parking lot after he was ejected from the club.

The Tribune also was the first to report that on Thursday, September 20, fire and rescue units responded to reports that a man was lying unconscious in front of the topless bar. Officials on the scene said the man had been "beat up." It was later reported in the Tribune that the beating victim, Kansas tourist Kirk Henry, had suffered a broken neck and quadriplegia after being ejected by bar employees over an $88 bar tab.

These and other stories first reported in the Tribune were repeated by other local news outlets.

In response to Rizzolo's pleadings to try to stop the Tribune's coverage of violent events at his business, Judge Saitta agreed with Tribune attorney Chris Rasmussen that to place a Gag Order on a newspaper would violate the First Amendment.

It is not yet known whether Rizzolo's attorneys will appeal the decision, but in case they do, the Nevada Press Association, and the Arlington, Va. based Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press are expected to join in defending the Tribune's right to continue reports of events that threaten the public's safety.

The Fau Wrongful Death case is scheduled for trial by jury on March 3, 2002.

Frederick Rizzolo is well known as a generous political campaign contributor and fundraiser.

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