Court: Accuracy no defense for malice

By: Editorial Staff

A defamation lawsuit brought by a police detective against a Crookston, Minn., daily newspaper and a local resident has been reinstated by the state’s Court of Appeals, according to The Associated Press.
The suit, filed by Crookston police detective Gerardo Moreno, alleges that a 1998 article in the Crookston Daily Times defamed him by repeating a citizen’s accusation that Moreno sold illegal drugs from his squad car.
A lower court had dismissed the newspaper portion of the case because the story accurately reported the comments, but the appeals court reinstated it June 15, ruling that the newspaper could be held liable for malice. The Daily Times has 30 days to ask the state Supreme Court to review the case.
“The qualified privilege associated with the fair and accurate reporting of public proceedings can be defeated by a showing of common-law malice,” Judge Robert Schumacher wrote for the appellate court.
The case started in March 1998 when resident Dennis McDaniel made the drug-selling accusation during a City Council meeting. The Daily Times reported the allegation about two weeks later in a front-page story.
Moreno is seeking a retraction and damages of more than $50,000 from McDaniel and the newspaper. The case now goes back to district court in Crookston for trial.
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?(copyright: Editor & Publisher June 19, 1999) [Caption]

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