NY Times v. Sullivan
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New York Times Co. v. Sullivan 376 U.S. 254
Facts: Respondent, an elected official in Montgomery, Alabama, brought suit in a state court alleging that he had been libeled by an advertisement in corporate petitioner's newspaper, the text of which appeared over the names of the four individual petitioners and many others. The advertisement included statements, some of which were false, about police action allegedly directed against students who participated in a civil rights demonstration and against a leader of the civil rights movement; respondent claimed the statements referred to him because his duties included supervision of the police department. The trial judge instructed the jury that such statements were "libelous per se," legal injury being implied without proof of actual damages, and that, for the purpose of compensatory damages, malice was presumed, so that such damages could be awarded against petitioners if the statements were found to have been published by them and to have related to respondent. As to punitive damages, the judge instructed that mere negligence was not evidence of actual malice, and would not justify an award of punitive damages; he refused to instruct that actual intent to harm or recklessness had to be found before punitive damages could be awarded, or that a verdict for respondent should differentiate between compensatory and punitive damages. The jury found for respondent, and the State Supreme Court affirmed. Issue: Can a public figure receive damages in a civil libel action, if malice is not proven? Ruling: A State cannot, under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, award damages to a public official for defamatory falsehood relating to his official conduct unless he proves "actual malice" -- that the statement was made with knowledge of its falsity or with reckless disregard of whether it was true or false. a) Application by state courts of a rule of law, whether statutory or not, to award a judgment in a civil action, is "state action" under the Fourteenth Amendment.
b) Expression does not lose constitutional protection to which it would otherwise be entitled because it appears in the form of a paid advertisement. c) Factual error, content defamatory of official reputation, or both, are insufficient to warrant an award of damages for false statements unless "actual malice" -- knowledge that statements are false or in reckless disregard of the truth -- is alleged and proved d) State court judgment entered upon a general verdict which does not differentiate between punitive damages, as to which, under state law, actual malice must be proved, and general damages, as to which it is "presumed," precludes any determination as to the basis of the verdict, and requires reversal, where presumption of malice is inconsistent with federal constitutional requirements. e) The evidence was constitutionally insufficient to support the judgment for respondent, since it failed to support a finding that the statements were made with actual malice or that they related to respondent.
New York Times Co. v. Sullivan 376 U.S. 254 Philippinized Ruling
Ruling: A public figure may receive damages in a civil libel action, even if malice is not proven in accordance with Article 33 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, which requires only a preponderance of evidence. Thus: “Article 33. In cases of defamation fraud, and physical injuries, a civil action for damages, entirely separate and distinct from the criminal action, may be brought by the injured party. Such civil action shall proceed independently of the criminal prosecution, and shall require only a preponderance of evidence.” In the case under consideration New York Times has a responsibility not only to the public but also to the public officer, Mr. L.B. Sullivan of the Montgomery Publi Safety as its Commissioner, when it advertised “Heed Their Rising Voices”, It was directed to the Montgomery Public Safety Police Force for their actions againts the civil rights protestas, in which Mr. Sullivan was the head of the police force Montgomery. By its very nature, libel causes dishonor, disrepute and discredit where Mr. Sullivan’s reputation was injured as a consequence of the advertisement made by New York Times. Said article is libelous per se as the law implies damages and the complainant in libel case is not required to introduce evidence of actual damages, at least when the amount of the award is more or less nominal as in the case at bar. (Phee vs La Vanguardia 45 Phil 211)
If a plaintiff in a defamation case is a public official or a public figure (see Curtis Pub. Co. v. Butts, 388 U.S. 130 (1967)), a plaintiff must show that the defendant published the alleged defamatory statement with
actual malice, which the court defines as knowledge that the statement was false or reckless disregard as to whether it was false or not.
Defamation Any intentional false communication, either written or spoken, that harms a person's reputation; decreases the respect, regard, or confidence in which a person is held; or induces disparaging, hostile, or disagreeable opinions or feelings against a person. Defamation may be a criminal or civil charge. It encompasses both written statements, known as libel, and spoken statements, called slander. The probability that a plaintiff will recover damages in a defamation suit depends largely on whether the plaintiff is a public or private figure in the eyes of the law. The public figure law of defamation was first delineated in new york times v. sullivan 376 U.S. 254, 84 S. Ct. 710, 11 L. Ed. 2d 686 (1964). In Sullivan, the plaintiff, a police official, claimed that false allegations about him appeared in the New York Times, and sued the newspaper for libel. The Supreme Court balanced the plaintiff's interest in preserving his reputation against the public's interest in freedom of expression in the area of political debate. It held that a public official alleging libel must prove actual malice in order to recover damages. The Court declared that the First Amendment protects open and robust debate on public issues even when such debate includes "vehement, caustic, unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials." A public official or other plaintiff who has voluntarily assumed a position in the public eye must prove that defamatory statements were made with knowledge that they were false or with reckless disregard of whether they were false. Where the plaintiff in a defamation action is a private citizen who is not in the public eye, the law extends a lesser degree of constitutional protection to defamatory statements. Public figures voluntarily place themselves in a position that invites close scrutiny, whereas private citizens who have not entered public life do not relinquish their interest in protecting their reputation. In addition, public figures have greater access to the means to publicly counteract false statements about them. For these reasons, a private citizen's reputation and privacy interests tend to outweigh free speech considerations and deserve greater protection
http://lawbrain.com/wiki/Defamation One of the more difficult issues in a defamation case focuses on whether the defendant is at fault for publishing defamatory comments. Common law rules created strict liability on the part of the defendant, meaning that a defendant could be liable for defamation merely for publishing a false statement, even if the defendant was not aware that the statement was false. Cases involving an interpretation of the First Amendment later modified the common law rules, especially in cases involving public officials, public figures, or matters of public concern.
Common Law Rules At common law, once a plaintiff proved that a statement was defamatory, the court presumed that the statement was false. The rules did not require that the defendant know that the statement was false or defamatory in nature. The only requirement was that the defendant must have intentionally or negligently published the information.
Public Officials and Public Figures In New York Times v. Sullivan, the Supreme Court recognized that the strict liability rules in defamation cases would lead to undesirable results when members of the press report on the activities of public officials. Under the strict liability rules of common law, a public official would not have to prove that a reporter was aware that a particular statement about the official was false in order to recover from the reporter. This could have the effect of deterring members of the press from commenting on the activities of a public official. Under the rules set forth in Sullivan, a public official cannot recover from a person who publishes a communication about a public official's conduct or fitness unless the defendant knew that the statement was false or acted in reckless disregard of the statement's truth or falsity. This standard is referred to as "actual malice," although malice in this sense does not mean ill-will. Instead, the actual malice standard refers to the defendant's knowledge of the truth or falsity of the statement. Public officials generally include employees of the government who have responsibility over affairs of the government. In order for the First Amendment rule to apply to the public official, the communication must concern a matter related directly to the office. Later cases expanded the rule to apply to public figures. A public figure is someone who has gained a significant degree of fame or notoriety in general or in the context of a particular issue or controversy. Even though these figures have no official role in government affairs, they often hold considerable influence over decisions made by the government or by the public. Examples of public figures are numerous and could include, for instance, celebrities, prominent athletes, or advocates who involve themselves in a public debate.
Where speech is directed at a person who is neither a public official nor a public figure, the case ofGertz v. Robert Welsh, Inc. (1974) and subsequent decisions have set forth different standards. The Court in Gertz determined that the actual malice standard established in New York Times v. Sullivan should not apply where speech concerns a private person. However, the Court also determined that the common law strict liability rules impermissibly burden publishers and broadcasters. Under the Restatement (Second) of Torts, a defendant who publishes a false and defamatory communication about a private individual is liable to the individual only if the defendant acts with actual malice (applying the standard under New York Times v. Sullivan) or acts negligently in failing to ascertain whether a statement was false or defamatory.
http://injury.findlaw.com/defamation-libel-slander/requirement-of-fault.html The law of defamation protects a person's reputation and good name against communications that are false and derogatory. Defamation consists of two torts: libel and slander. Libel consists of any defamation that can be seen, most typically in writing. Slander consists of an oral defamatory communications. The elements of libel and slander are nearly identical to one another. Historically, the law governing slander focused on oral statements that were demeaning to others. By the 1500s, English courts treated slander actions as those for damages. Libel developed differently, however. English printers were required to be licensed by and give a bond to the government because the printed word was believed to be a threat to political stability. Libel included any criticism of the English government, and a person who committed libel committed a crime. This history carried over in part to the United States, where Congress under the presidency of John Adams passed the Sedition Act, which made it a crime to criticize the government. Congress and the courts eventually abandoned this approach to libel, and the law of libel is now focused on recovery of damages in civil cases. Beginning with the landmark decision in New York Times v. Sullivan (1964), the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that the law of defamation has a constitutional dimension. Under this case and subsequent cases, the Court has balanced individual interests in reputation with the interests of free speech among society. This approach has altered the rules governing libel and slander, especially where a communication is about a public official or figure, or where the communication is about a matter of public concern.
http://injury.findlaw.com/defamation-libel-slander/defamation-libel-slander-background.html http://lawbrain.com/wiki/First_Amendment - first amendment http://lawbrain.com/wiki/Fourteenth_Amendment -fourteenth amendment