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Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 33416
Experience:  Employment Law Expert
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I work City of Norwich as the Fire Chief. One of the council

Customer Question

I work for the City of Norwich as the Fire Chief. One of the council members has continually remarked false and misleading comments in a public forum about my character.
What rights do I have to stop this obsessed attack. I can prove that the statements this man is saying that are being repeated publicly are completely false. When does this type of public character assassination become slanderous, and/or hostile to the point that I can prosecute?
Ken Scandariato (###) ###-####
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.

Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to assisting you today. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Also, I can only answer the questions you specifically ask and based on the facts that you give so please be sure that you ask the questions you want to ask and provide all necessary facts. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

Questions like "what rights do I have..." are really too general to answer. If you can be more specific I'd be glad to try and answer that one.

As to your second question, "When does this type of public character assassination become slanderous, and/or hostile to the point that I can prosecute?"

There is no specific point at which it crosses the line and lets you prosecute. First off, "prosecute" indicates a criminal offense and slander isn't a criminal offense. However, I am assuming by "prosecute" that you really meant "bring a lawsuit" (if that's not correct then let me know).

You can sue him when the first untrue comment is made to a third party (in whatever format) in a manner that is meant to imply it is true. Of course, the more lies the person tells the the stronger the case becomes. I'm not going to go into the difference between slander, libel, and defamation, since there is not a lot of difference and for our purposes it makes no difference.

The toughest thing about a slander case is proving damages. This is the aspect that makes many people choose not to pursue it because lawyers rarely take a slander case on a % basis and, in addition, attorney's fees are not a recoverable item of damages in a slander lawsuit.

However, if you do decide to sue for slander you can ask for both monetary damages and an injunction to stop him from talking about you. An injunction is extremely complicated but is also extremely powerful.

The steps to an injunction are:

1) An Application for TRO (Temporary Restraining Order) is filed along with supporting evidence such as affidavits. Usually the Application for Injunction is made at the same time. The TRO is a temporary measure and is not absolutely required before you get an injunction.
2) An Ex Parte (without the other side present) Hearing is conducted and the judge either issues the TRO or denies it. If the TRO is issued the judge orders a bond set in a sufficient amount to compensate the other side for any damages accumulated while the TRO is in place if the applicant fails to prove their right to an injunction.
3) A hearing on the TRO is set.
4) The TRO and notice of Hearing is served on the defendant.
5) The defendant should immediately begin following the judge's orders.
6) The TRO hearing is held and each side has an opportunity to present evidence and question witnesses.
7) The judge makes the decision on whether to convert the TRO to a Temporary Injunction or not.
8) If the TRO is converted to a Temporary Injunction then the judge sets a new bond to be in place.
9) Discovery is conducted by both sides.
10) A request for hearing date is made on the matter of converting the Temporary Injunction into a Permanent Injunction.
11) The hearing/trial is held on the Permanent Injunction and the judge issues a ruling.

These are what are known as extraordinary remedies and the procedural rules for these as well as the case law are EXTREMELY specific and difficult. If ANY mistakes are made the judge has no choice but to deny the relief and will not likely reconsider it in the future.

Just as an example, getting injunctive relief, both temporary and permanent, requires that evidence be offered of:
1) An immediate need,
2) Which, if not granted, will result in irreparable harm,
3) With no adequate remedy at law, and
4) (on temporary order) The person requesting the injunction is likely to succeed at a full trial on the merits.

If evidence is not offered to meet these four requirements, in a manner that the judge knows this is what the evidence shows, then the petition will be denied.

There are more requirements than this depending on the exact facts of the case but it is very, very easy to mess up one of these and end up having to pay damages to the other side just because your paperwork wasn't done properly.

Please ask any follow up questions in this thread.