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Ask Thomas Swartz Your Own Question

Thomas Swartz
Thomas Swartz, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 2811
Experience:  Twenty one years experience as a lawyer in New York and New Jersey. Former Appellate Law Clerk.
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The local newspaper in Amarillo has printed and put onto the

Customer Question

The local newspaper in Amarillo has printed and put onto the World Wide Web the police arrest of our son, which states that the police found 3 quarts of THC Jam in the car. The article states my son's name, address and car info. The evidence they found in the car is NOTHING but sugar/plums/pectin with which his aunt and he made jam. I was told by the TX labs that it will be 12 months before they test the "evidence" In the meantime that post will be online for anyone searching to find. This will possibly impact his ability to keep employment and I do not know what else. Is there anything I can do force the newspaper to take down this post? tnx
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Thomas Swartz replied 1 year ago.
Hello Customer,

I'm afraid there is little that you can do legally to have the newspaper take down the post. The paper has the right under the First Amendment to publish news stories about crimes and arrests.

If they published anything false, you might have a defamation case. However, in situations like this, newspapers usually publish their stories by merely stating that the police made an arrest and state what the police claim about the arrest. They will use such wording as "allegedly" etc., and only quote what a police officer said. That being the case, a false statement about your son probably was not directly made.

You have the right to ask the paper to publish a response to their article stating that your son will be exonerated. They may or may not publish such a letter. But in terms of taking legal action to have them remove the article their is nothing you can do.

Thomas
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

U r right in that the newspaper is attributing every comment to what the police said. However the quote from the police never states that the evidence is just suspected or that there is any question that it is THC they state that "it is THC". How can the police state this w/o any kind of field test or any results from the Sate Lab. Is that slander? Can you sue the police/law in TX?


 

Expert:  Thomas Swartz replied 1 year ago.
Unfortunately, the police would likely enjoy sovereign immunity for claims such as slander in a case like this. Sovereign immunity is the doctrine that the government and its agencies can not be sued for claims resulting from the performance of their duties. In a police investigation when the police are carrying out their duties such as announcing an arrest and commenting on the nature of the evidence they are carrying out their police functions and are given great discretion and immunity from civil claims. Otherwise, everyone would sue the police all the time, and police functions would basically stop. So, I think that any court looking at a defamation case in your situation would dismiss the case on sovereign immunity grounds.

Sorry if this is not the information you wanted to hear.

Thomas

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