So, the case of an Illinois judge who won a libel suit last year has been settled out of court. A shame because we need one of these cases to go to the Supreme Court to combat this worrisome trend:
Since 1986, judges have won eight of 11 cases in which they have sued news media, according to the Media Law Resource Center in New York. Dozens of other cases brought by judges were dismissed before trial, said center staff attorney David Heller.
In New York Times v. Sullivan, the Supreme Court set the bar for libel of a public official incredibly high — “actual malice.” Since then, the news media have enjoyed wide latitude in the coverage of public officials, except for one group. Apparently, free speech is good for everyone, unless you’re criticizing sitting judges.
The Boston Herald had to pay a judge $3 million in June after losing it’s libel battle in state courts. The paper hasn’t said whether it will appeal to the federal courts. Hopefully, it will.