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Am I subject to libel for a letter to the editor, in which I…

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Am I subject to...

Am I subject to libel for a letter to the editor, in which I accuse someone of sexual harassment 30 years ago?

Lawyer's Assistant: Have harassment charges been filed? If so, when is the next court date?

No. In fact, I have not sent the letter yet.

Lawyer's Assistant: In what state did this occur?

North Dakota

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

No. Thank you

Submitted: 8 months ago.Category: Legal
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Answered in 5 minutes by:
11/10/2017
Lawyer: Legal Eagle, Lawyer replied 8 months ago
Legal Eagle
Legal Eagle, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 13,249
Experience: Licensed to practice before state and federal court
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Hello! I am a licensed attorney, admitted to practice in state and federal court. I have a nearly 100% satisfaction rating (click here for more info) so all that means is that you can count on me to help today. Because I want to provide you with the most accurate answer possible, do you mind if I take a moment to review your question?

Please keep in mind that our conversation does not include an attorney-client relationship and this is for general information purposes only.

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Lawyer: Legal Eagle, Lawyer replied 8 months ago

Hello! I am a licensed attorney, admitted to practice in state and federal court. I have a nearly 100% satisfaction rating (click here for more info) so all that means is that you can count on me to help today. I'm sorry to hear about your situation. Let's first analyze the law on your situation. Libel is basically ​written defamation. Defamation is basically a false and defamatory statement, published to a third party, that causes harm (usually a lessened reputation in the community, lost business opportunity, or other harms as the facts dictate.) If it does, then you as the defending party may have some defenses. Here are the typical defenses in a defamation case:

(1) Legislative Privilege - Meaning the statement was made in a legislative proceeding

(2) Judicial Privilege - any participant in a judicial proceeding the absolute privilege to utter defamatory statements

(3) Executive Privilege - privilege affords an absolute privilege to high ranking executive officers of state and federal governments when acting within the scope of their discretionary duties

(4) Domestic Privilege - affords a spouse the absolute privilege to make defamatory statements about a third person to their spouse.

(5) Truth - if the statements you made were true, then this is a defense as well

(6) Opinion - courts have ruled that the opinion defense is one where if you provide your opinion, then a defamation charge will not stand.

In your case, it is probably either truth or opinion that would make a difference. Plus, if the person that you are saying harassed you thirty years ago is a public figure, they would have to further prove that you were doing this intentionally. Thus, you could be subject to it, but you'd likely have some good defenses.

Also, although I provided an initial answer, it’s important that you are 100% satisfied. If you feel I have done so, please rate me 5 stars and let me know if you have any follow up questions. As a side note, you can also click here in the future to request me individually.

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DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.

The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).

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