Friday, June 25, 2010

Appeals Court Tunes Out Judge's Claims Against Radio Station

County courthouse in Newark.Image via Wikipedia
The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Appellate District in Ohio this week in Vicky M. Christiansen v, Douglas C. Pricer and WCLT Radio, Inc. (Case No. 09-CA-126) upheld the trial court's summary judgment dismissal of defamation and false light invasion of privacy claims by a judicial candidate arising from an editorial broadcast on a radio station and posted on its Website.

Newark, Ohio-based WCLT aired an editorial in November 2008, in which its station manager said two of three candidates for a domestic relations judgeship, including the plaintiff, were unqualified for the position. Regarding the plaintiff, the editorial cited several complaints about her conduct  filed with the Ohio Supreme Court's disciplinary counsel and mentioned an assault complaint filed with the Newark Police Dept. in July 2007, alleging the plaintiff had struck an individual in a courthouse elevator.

Plaintiff sued, contending that although the editorial's statements were "literally true," they created an improper inference that she had been sanctioned by the disciplinary counsel and charged with assault, neither of  which was accurate. The trial court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment, finding that the editorial was not made with actual malice, contained constitutionally protected statements of opinion, and could be construed as non-defamatory. By a 2-1 margin, the appellate court agreed.

"Judge not, that ye be not judged." Matthew 7:1.  "This is why judges shouldn't be elected." TUOL 6/25.

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