Monday, June 19, 2006

False ID as sex offender not libelous

A Texas man wrongly identified as a sex offender by a newspaper and TV station has had his libel suit thrown out by a Texas state appeals court, Associated Press reports. The news organizations based their reports on a police department press release listing two men arrested in connection with a sex offender registration compliance sweep. The appeals court said the "fair report privilege" protected the news organizations in relying on the press release.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This same stand has been taken before. The “fair report” privilege allows journalists to report on allegations made during official proceedings, whether the allegations are true or not. I found a similar case in Springfield, Ill. In this case, Specialty Publishing Co., of Carol Stream was sued by Solaia Technology LLC, for defamation. The Illinois Supreme Court voted 5-1 that the “fair report” privilege offered protection in this case. "We cannot expect reporters to possess the same skills as lawyers and to venture further into the filigree of federal antitrust law, searching for a distinction between criminal and civil enforcement actions," Justice Thomas Fitzgerald wrote in the court's opinion. ( The media sometimes makes mistakes, but as long as they are honest mistakes, they should not be held liable for reporting information given to them by government entities.