Candidate for School Board Pam Hill is allegedly threatening a lawsuit?
Slander? Defamation? Excessive awesomeness?
A public figure (such as a politician, celebrity, or business leader) cannot base a lawsuit on incorrect harmful statements unless there is proof that the writer or publisher acted with actual malice (knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard for the truth).
In a legal sense, “actual malice” has nothing to do with ill will or disliking someone and wishing him harm. Rather, courts have defined “actual malice” in the defamation context as publishing a statement while either
- knowing that it is false; or
- acting with reckless disregard for the statement’s truth or falsity.
It should be noted that the actual malice standard focuses on the defendant’s actual state of mind at the time of publication. Unlike the negligence standard discussed later in this section, the actual malice standard is not measured by what a reasonable person would have published or investigated prior to publication. Instead, the plaintiff must produce clear and convincing evidence that the defendant actually knew the information was false or entertained serious doubts as to the truth of his publication.
The truth is a defense. Sit down.
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