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Con Law 2 Sal F16.docx

Iv defamation civil liability and denial of

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iv. Defamation: Civil Liability and Denial of Compensation for Speech 1. New York Times v. Sullivan , 1964 a. Facts : NYT ran an advertisement discussing civil rights movement in Alabama, the treatment of SNCC students, and MLK. Some of the claims in the advertisement were false. Some random ass sheriff in Alabama brought a suit for defamation because he said these claims were attacks on his character. Time raised a 1st Am claim. b. Issue : Is the defendant liable for defamation of a public official? c. Holding : No. 33
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i. New standard: clear and convincing. Falsity of the statements used to be presumed, and the truth of the statement was an affirmative defense. Now, the P has to prove the falsity of the statement as an element. ii. Rule : the constitutional guarantees a federal rule that prohibits a public official from recovering damages for a defamatory falsehood relating to his official conduct unless he proves that the statement was made with actual malice. iii. Recovery for defamation is limited by the 1st Am. You can only recover for defamation of a public official by proving by C&C evidence the falsity of the statements and actual malice. 1. Actual malice – D knew the statement was false or acted with reckless disregard of the truth. 2. Criticism of G and G officials was at the core of protected speech. iv. This recovery rule is limited to defamation suits about statements relating to official conduct 2. Private Figures & Matters of Public Concern a. Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc. i. Facts : P was an attorney who brought a suit against a police officer who murdered a black teenager. The D newspaper published this false article that called him a Communist, etc. ii. Issue : Does the Sullivan standard requiring the P to prove actual malice to win a defamation suit against a public officials apply to private individuals? iii. Holding : No. 1. Because the Petitioner was not a public figure, the state’s interest in compensating injury to his reputation required a different standard from that formulated in New York Times. The Supreme Court held further that the states could define for themselves the appropriate standard of liability for a publisher or broadcaster of defamatory falsehood injuries to a private individual. 2. Public figures can only recover in defamation suits by meeting the Sullivan standard. 34
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a. Like public officials, usually enjoy significantly greater access to the channels of effective communication. b. Dun & Bradstreet, Inc. v. Greenmoss Builders i. Facts: P was a credit reporting agency. There was a mistake in the credit report they made of D. All of the information distributed was confidential. He brought a defamation suit saying they had injured his character. ii. Issue: Whether the rule of Gertz applies when the false and defamatory statements do not involve matters of public concern? If so, Whether Petitioner’s credit report involved a matter of public concern?
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  • Spring '18
  • Government, Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

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