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Newspaper's Liability For Printing False Information

Greenfield, IN |

I was charged with "Check Fraud" as a Class "C" Felony by writing 3 dishonored check which totalled $68,000. There were many circumstances behind what happened, and thinking I was innocent of this higher charge which differed from "Check Deception" Misdemeanor, Felony includes preplanned intent to defraud. Having no previous record, and being an owner of a business that annually writes over 2 million dollars in good checks. I decided to fight the charge in a Jury Trial. Due to a freak event of having one of the jurors being the wife of the person whose product the complaining company delievered the goods to, and not disclosing this information during jury questioning (I had never met the lady). I ended up with a guilty verdict, I am sure this was a result of her. The verdict with a victim's wife serving on the jury is a separate issue, which I am appealing the unfair descision is a whole other freak issue of this case, but my question involves this: After the guilty verdict, the local county newspaper published two articles along with my picture, and in those articles were a series of 7 completely false statements, that were very much damaging to me and my business, which I continue to operate in this county. The writer of the article says that she is just quoting what the arresting Police Officer, the Prosecutor and the Public Record gave to her. But the statements made by mainly the arresting officer were false, damaging to me and my business, and can easily be proven that they were wrong by the records of the case. Examples of what was published in the paper which were false are as follows: " Defendant was arrested on Check Fraud charges that July because he admitted to Police that he knew he didn't have the cash." The truth was that the police came to my house and arrested me without any conversation, and there is no way I stated upon arrest that I knew I didn't have the cash. Another example of what was published in the paper was "Defendant planned on marking up the price of the chemicals and sell it to local farmers, but he didn't get the chance." - This again is not true. I was trying to return product that I had already paid for with other cleared checks to the State complaining witness. The products that I wrote these checks that bounced, were already paid for by the customer, it was other products which I had paid for through this supplier with good checks, that I was trying to return which would cover the amount of the returned checks. The company had taken products back previously, and I even had many E-Mail documentation where the company asked me if I had any product to return for credit, which leads to these next two false statements published by the paper which stated - "The company enforced its strict no return policy" Paper also published: "When Defendant’s deal with a farmer fell through, he tried to return the herbicide, but States Complaining Co. enforced its strict no-return policy." In discover, this Company admitted that they did not have any no return policies, they had previously taken product back before within the same month and issued credit. The company had E-Mailed asking if I had any product that I could return for credit. A far cry from enforcing its strict no return policies. Another statement pulished by the paper said "Defendant planned to mark up the price of the chemical before selling it to farmers and admitted to police he knowingly wrote the checks without money in his bank account." Again the police asked me nothing and I told them nothing. Another Statement Published by the paper "Defendant later admitted to police he knowingly wrote the checks without money in his bank account to cover them." Again, there was nothing ever stated to the police, and they had absolutely no conversation with me either before or after the arrest. Damage being done to my business by these false statement, is there any civil liability against this paper or the Police? How to Proceed?

Attorney Answers 1


  1. The MOST important case on the issue of newspaper's first amendment rights resulted from the police chief in Birmingham Alabama suing the New York Times over an ad they ran regarding the police conduct at a civil rights march.

    Google "Sullivan v. New York Times" and you will find some law on the issue.

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