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The nuances vary by jurisdiction, but generally, someone has committed the tort of defamation of character when they make an intentionally false communication, either published or publicly spoken, that injures another's reputation or good name. In other words, if you spread harmful or hurtful lies about someone, you can get sued. In a defamation case, the burden of proof is on the defendant to show that the statements were true.
However, statements made in court are exempt from defamation claims; if the statemetns are being made outside of court's proceedings, a defamation suit may be filed. Therefore, if the court is in recess and the attorney turns to the bailiff to say "this woman neglected her kid", that could be considered defamatory.Let me know if I may be of further assistance. Thank you.
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