The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

18 February 2005

Boston Herald Loses Important Libel Case

It's hard to believe this judge could prevail, as the US Supreme Court has ruled and upheld in so many cases since New York Times v. Sullivan in the 1960's, that you must prove malicious intent, not merely make an error or even a false statement, against a public figure in order to win a libel case.

The standard is set very high to protect critics of public persons.

I would only assume the Boston Herald will be appealing this case. In the meantime, it certainly is damaging to media critics (or even reporters in this case) commenting on public figures in the administration of their duties.

The bad guys win a battle here in a war that seemed to end decades ago.


BOSTON (AP) - The Boston Herald was ordered Friday to pay $2.1 million for libeling a Superior Court judge in articles that portrayed him as lenient toward defendants and quoted him making insensitive comments about a 14-year-old rape victim.

In a case closely watched by the media and legal communities, a jury deliberated for more than 20 hours over five days before finding that the newspaper and reporter David Wedge were guilty of libeling Superior Court Judge Ernest B. Murphy.

Murphy claimed Wedge misquoted him as telling lawyers involved in the case about the teenage rape victim: "Tell her to get over it."


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