By definition defamation is the act of injuring someone's character or reputation by false statements. Cases of defamation are only considered attacks on if they are made in a vindictive or malicious manner. The person's name is considered not only personal but proprietary right of reputation. Defamation is synonymous with the words libel and slander in terms of law. Defamation is a term that encompasses both libel and slander. Libel is a term used to describe visual defamation; as in newspaper articles or misleading pictures. Slander describes defamation that you can hear, not see. It is mostly oral statements that tarnish someone's reputation.
Defamation is used mainly in politically based arenas; corporate workplace, entertainment, and definitely in politics. It can be traced back to as far as governments have been established. Different countries have various roots of laws dealing with defamation and its consequences. In pre- Roman time's crimes dealing with slanderous and libel offences were punishable by death by law of the Twelve Tables. In Roman jurisprudence the offences were dealt with in a ways similar to modern law. Statements made in public were considered an offence, yet those made in private were not. The truth was a sufficient defense. Many libel and slander laws descend from the English law of defamation. The first documented case of libel was tried by the Star Chamber in the reign of James I. American laws regulating slander and libel began previous to the American Revolution. In one of the more significant cases New York publisher John Peter Zenger was accused and brought to trial on charges of libel. In 1734 the German immigrant published an article "attacking" Governor Cosby of the New York Colony. His case was won and the trial aquitted. This case showed the oppsite side of the spectrum, on how to fight against
defamatory charges. Another important case occurred in 1964 in New York Times v. Sullivan. This case set a preesident for libel cases. It stated that officials could only win a suit if they demonstrated actual malice, knowledge that the information was false, and reckless disregard of whether it was false or not. In 1974 Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc. the supremecourt ruled that plaintiff could not win if the statements were oppionion rather than fact. These cases helped protect the first amendment
of the constitutuion; freedom of speech.
Defamation is a term that is necessary to know especially in the workplace. A legal claim based on defamation entitles the victim to recover against
the person making the defamatory remarks or their emotional damages. On top of that the victim could be able to sue for punishment dammages. Defamation can be proved on a person's word alone. It is much more successful to have some sort of evidence like a paper, article, an e-mail, etc. In a defamation case damages do not have to be proven during the testomony. The plaintiff dose not have to testify that they were emotionaly destroyed or had to seek profesional help. The defamatory statement dose not have to be published out side of a company or group of people. Internal attacks can also be considered
defamatory. Each repition of the remark can be considered
a new attack. One of the biggest problems in proving defamation is that in some cases a person may have privlage to make the remarks. During a judicial proceeding
absolute privlage is given. Even if the remark is false the it can not be considered
slanderous in that setting. The defamer can make intentionaly untrue statements free of legal reprehension. A person with even a limited privlage such as an employer may still lose their privlage if the statement is made with malicious intent and reckless disregard.
Due to the impact defamation has on certain groups of people the Anti-Defamation Leauge (ADL) has been established. It is an American organization set up to fight anti-semitism, anti-Zionism, racism, and political extremism. It was founded by Sigmund Livingston to put a stop to anti-seminist defamation. It was set up in response to the lynching of Leo Frank who was falsly accused of the rape and murder of a factory worker. The ADL has worked closeley with civil rights movements. They have condemend anti- arab comments and slurs that have recently occurred. The ADL works to combat defamation and racism towards all groups.
Defamation has always been a controversial
law. Mainly newspapers and magiznes are brought up on charges of defamation. In 2001 the Boston Herold was charged with defamation of the Judge Ernist Murphy. The Boston Herold article quoted Bristol didtrict attorney Paul Walsh Jr. as saying "Murphy should not be allowed to handel criminal cases." He was supposedly quotes saying callous remarks about a 14- year old rape victum; that "She needs to get over it shes only 14." Due to the uncomplentary publicity he became known as "Evil Ernie" to the public. Because Murphy is a public official
it is said that the paper automatically committed
"actual malice" by knowingly printing false statements; if that is the case. Nonpublic figures who file libel and defamation suits need only ro prove statements were false and damaging to their reputation. The outcome of this case has not been published, but proving that the statements were malicious and false would not have been an easy job for a prosecuter.
Jonathan Orlick, the former general counsel of Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc., is suing the Pasadena company for defamation when he was on fired June 5, 2003. Orlick's company claimed to have fired him for "cause" which means he had been convicted or entered a no-contest plea to a felony or had been found guilty of fraud or embezzlement. The suit seeks damages and a retraction of company statements that said Orlick was fired for "cause." This cases outcome has not yet been published.
Another controversial
case of defamation includes now Governer of California Arnold Schwarzenegger. A Hollywood stuntwoman alleged that she was sexually harassed by Schwarzenegger. She claimed that she was touched during two of the films. When she spoke out against
Mr. Schwarzenegger his campaign staff told reporters she was a felon with a long criminal record. After this she filed a defamation suit against him for ruining her good name in the public eye.
Defamation laws along with those of privacy matters are among the most controversial
. In many cases it is hard to meet the criteria of what is actually considered
a libel and slander offence. As far back as governments can reach defamation has always been a problem and always will be. Defamation is very common and is easily found in things like propaganda, politics, magiznes, newspapers, and the television.

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