RE: Celebrity Gifs

From: Steven D. Jamar <sjamar[_at_]law.howard.edu>
Date: Mon, 23 Sep 1996 10:40:18 -0400

> >> One way to think about this might be: all the tabloids stories on
> >> how OJ Simpson is guilty, or faking pictures of him in some guilty
> >> pose or other. Since he's been found not guilty, it must be
> >> defamatory I would think.
> >
> > Why? To be defamatory in most states (all but Rhode Island, I think)
> > the statement must be false. OJ would need to bring the defamation
> > case to court and prove that the statement is false - and do so with a
> > preponderance standard with the burden on him, not a reasonable doubt
> > standard of proof on the other side.
> >
> > Being found not guilty is not the same as being found innocent. If it
> > were, then the current actual civil trial could not go forward.
>
> Interesting question from a defamation standpoint. OJ is not _guilty_
> of murder--the jury said so and this cannot be re=examined in any other
> proceeding. He may have killed her, which is what the civil suit is
> about. So, if a tabloid accuses him of the murder, then it is, by
> definition almost, false!

I don't think defamation law is concerned with double jeopardy niceties or with semantic cuteness about legally liable for the crime of murder. If this were so, then OJ could publish a book on how he did it and if I then wrote an article stating that he committed murder, under Mr. Federow's theory I would still be guilty of making a false statement about OJ.

The false statement is not that he got away with murder. The false statement would be that the jury found him guilty of murder. That is false.

As to re-examination of being guilty of murder - again we are in a semantic arena here. A civil case could re-examine the issue of whether OJ killed the victims - whether he is guilty of murder. But he cannot be put in criminal jeopardy again.

Guilt is not merely a legal term. Nor is murder. And defamation does not look just to our narrow legalistic definitions of common terms to find out if a statement was defamatory.

Cheers,
Steve Jamar

Prof. Steven D. Jamar
Dir. LRW Program
Howard University School of Law
2900 Van Ness Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20008
sjamar[_at_]law.howard.edu voice: 202-806-8017 fax 202-806-8428 Received on Mon Sep 23 1996 - 14:52:03 GMT

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