Rachel Fugate is an experienced litigator and appellate lawyer. She has represented national media companies, local and regional newspapers and television stations, book publishers, film producers, reality television programs, artists, universities, and non-profit corporations. Rachel litigates with an emphasis on media, internet and First Amendment disputes. She defends publishers and broadcasters in complex defamation, invasion of privacy, and other content-related claims and prosecutes actions for access to government information. As a commercial litigator, Rachel handles a variety of cases, including business torts, contract disputes, and tortious interference. As an appellate lawyer, Rachel has appeared before all Florida District Courts of Appeal and has argued matters before the Florida Supreme Court and Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. With a content-related focus, she has prepared amicus briefs on issues ranging from satire as fair use to the abolishment of false light in Florida and has filed numerous emergency certiorari petitions for access to government records.
Rachel’s practice also concentrates on preventive litigation measures. She provides publishers and broadcasters daily advice on a variety of content related issues, including newsgathering advice, responses to retraction demands and subpoenas, pre-broadcast and pre-publication review, and advice concerning protection and use of intellectual property, internet content and publication practices.
Rachel serves on the Governing Committee of the American Bar Association’s Forum on Communications Law. She is a past Vice Chair of the American Bar Association’s Section of Individual Rights & Responsibilities First Amendment Committee and former chair of the Media Law Committee of The Florida Bar. Prior to entering private practice, Rachel was a staff attorney at Capital Collateral Counsel – Northern Region.
- JD, magna cum laude, Florida State University, 1998
- BS, University of Florida, 1995
- U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit
- Rated AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell
- Florida Super Lawyers (2014-2017)
- Florida Super Lawyers Rising Stars (2009-2013)
Speaking & Media
- Panel speaker, Women Charting Their Own Paths in Communications Law: ABA Forum on Communications Law 37th Annual Representing Your Local Broadcaster (2018)
- Panel speaker, Hot Issues in Reporter’s Privilege: ABA Forum on Communications Law 23rd Annual Conference (2018)
- Panel speaker, Defamation and Related Claims: Practicing Law Institute’s Communications Law in the Digital Age (2017)
- Panel speaker, Fake News: Florida Bar Reporter’s Workshop (2017)
- Speaker, Defamation and Invasion of Privacy: Public Radio and News Directors’ Annual Conference (2017)
- Quoted by The New York Times regarding the court's order releasing 911 recordings of the Pulse nightclub shooting. "911 Recordings of Gunman During Orlando Nightclub Siege Are Released" (October 31, 2016).
- Interviewed by WKMG regarding access to University of Central Florida’s coaching contracts. "UCF keeps O'Leary investigation records secret — UCF: Discrimination investigative report is ‘not UCF business'" (October 21, 2015).
- Quoted by CBS News concerning access issues in the George Zimmerman criminal case. "George Zimmerman Trial: Witnesses must testify publicly, judge rules" (June 6, 2013).
- Quoted by CNN concerning access to names of jurors from Casey Anthony criminal case. "Should Casey Anthony jurors' names be released?" (July 7, 2011).
- Interviewed by The New York Times regarding the newspaper’s review of ballots after the 2000 Presidential election. "EXAMINING THE VOTE: THE METHOD; How the Consortium of News Organizations Conducted the Ballot Review" (November 12, 2001).
- Co-Author, Access to Juvenile Records & Proceedings, Reporter’s Handbook, The Florida Bar.
- Co-Author, Cloud Over 2004 Hurricane Relief Aid Finally Lifts as Appellate Court Tells FEMA to Hand Over Addresses, MLRC MediaLawLetter (June 2007).
- Co-Author, Anatomy of a First Amendment Retaliation Claim, MLRC MediaLawLetter (December 2005).
- Co-Author, CNN Sues Florida for Copy of Suspected Felon List, MLRC MediaLawLetter (June 2004).
- Author, Choppy Waters are Forecast for Academic Free Speech, 26 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 187 (1998).
- Author, The Florida Constitution: Still Protector of Citizens’ Rights?, 25 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 87 (1997).