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Harte-Hanks Communications, Inc. v. Connaughton

United States Supreme Court
842 F.2d 825 (6th Cir. 1988), 491 U.S. 657 (1989)



Daniel Connaughton (plaintiff) ran for Municipal Judge and lost out to incumbent James Dolan. Two months before the election, Connaughton recorded an interview with Patsy Stephens, who claimed that Dolan's Director of Court Services was taking bribes. Stephens and her sister, Alice Thompson, testified during the ensuing grand jury investigation. During that investigation, the Journal News, published by Harte-Hanks Communications (defendant), ran a story quoting Thompson as alleging that Connaughton offered to bribe her and Stephens to cooperate with the grand jury. The story reported that Connaughton denied any wrongdoing. Before running the story, the Journal News recorded interviews with both Thompson and Connaughton. Thompson was sometimes inaudible, hesitant, or unresponsive in her interview. Connaughton gave the Journal News the recording of his interview with Stephens, but the Journal News never listened to it. The Journal News never tried to interview Stephens. Connaughton sued the Jourrnal News for defamation. The district court ruled in favor of Connaughton. The appeals court affirmed. The Journal News petition the United States Supreme Court for certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Stevens, J.)

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