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Defamation and Blogging – The 9th Circuit has Spoken / By California Lawyer / January 22, 2014 at 4:23 pm

What First Amendment protections are afforded a blogger sued for defamation?  This was the question presented recently in a case just decided in the most liberal appellate court jurisdiction in the USA, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The issue was one of first impression, and is a critically important legal decision in light of the emergence of bloggers and the alternative media.  It is of obvious concern to anyone that blogs, like Mr. TF, all the guest posters and contributors here, too, so an in depth discussion is warranted.

The set up is here, courtesy of

“GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — A federal appeals court ruled Friday that bloggers and the public have the same First Amendment protections as journalists when sued for defamation: If the issue is of public concern, plaintiffs have to prove negligence to win damages.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new trial in a defamation lawsuit brought by an Oregon bankruptcy trustee against a Montana blogger who wrote online that the court-appointed trustee criminally mishandled a bankruptcy case.

The appeals court ruled that the trustee was not a public figure, which could have invoked an even higher standard of showing the writer acted with malice, but the issue was of public concern, so the negligence standard applied.

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