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Roger Townsend's  Legal Resources

Criminal Libel

Section 300 of the Canadian Criminal Code.

This page has case law in the U.S on libel.



McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm'n, 514 U.S. 334 (1995).
From the Legal Information Institute and Project Hermes [Other parts of the opinion, WordPerfect versions, and related documents] NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication...

"Anonymous pamphlets, leaflets, brochures and even books have played an important role in the progress of mankind." Talley v. California, 362 U.S. 60, 64 (1960).  

This was a CERTIORARI TO THE APPELLATE DEPARTMENT OF THE SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA  "of any handbill which did not have printed thereon the name and address of the person who prepared, distributed or sponsored it. "

The petitioner was arrested and tried in a Los Angeles Municipal Court for violating this ordinance. ..ordinances had been passed to prevent either frauds, disorder, or littering

"one who is rightfully on a street . . . carries with him there as elsewhere the constitutional right to express his views in an orderly fashion . . . by handbills and literature as well as by the spoken word." Jamison v. Texas, 318 U.S. 413, 416.

The old seditious libel cases in England show the lengths to which government had to go to find out who was responsible for books that were obnoxious [362 U.S. 60, 65] to the rulers

Footnote 6] Penry was executed and Udal died as a result of his confinement, 1 Hallam, The Constitutional History of England (1855), 205-206, 232.



From the Legal Information Institute and Project Hermes [Other parts of the opinion, WordPerfect versions, and related documents] 89645OPINION v. LORAIN JOURNAL CO. NOTICE: This opinion is subject to...
Score: 100%, Matching: libel

This case is before us for the third time in an odyssey of litigation spanning nearly 15 years.

"`It is simply this: If you get in a jam, lie your way out.

"`If you're successful enough, and powerful enough, and can sound sincere enough, you stand an excellent chance of making the lie stand up, regardless of what really happened.

The court then found that "the statements in issue are factual assertions as a matter of law, and are not constitutionally protected as the opinions of the writer. ... The plain import of the author's assertions is that Milkovich, inter alia, committed the crime of perjury in a court of law." Id., at 298299, 473 N.E. 2d, at 11961197. This Court again denied certiorari. 474 U.S. 953 (1985).

These factors are:

(1) "the specific language used";

(2) "whether the statement is verifiable";

(3) "the general context of the statement"; and

(4) "the broader context in which the statement appeared."

Shakespeare on libel

Othello, Iago says to Othello:

"Good name in man and woman, dear my lord.

Is the immediate jewel of their souls.

Who steals my purse steals trash;

`Tis something, nothing;

`Twas mine, `tis his, and has been slave to thousands;

But he that filches from me my good name

Robs me of that which not enriches him,

And makes me poor indeed." Act III, scene 3.


However, due to concerns that unduly burdensome defamation laws could stifle valuable public debate, the privilege of "fair comment" was incorporated into the common law as an affirmative defense to an action for defamation. "The principle of `fair comment' afford[ed] legal immunity for the honest expression of opinion on matters of legitimate public interest when based upon a true or privileged statement of fact." 1 F. Harper & F. James, Law of Torts 5.28, p.456 (1956) (footnote omitted).







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