Cops & Editors

In a defamation case, the court of appeals has affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendants.  The case was brought by a group of Dallas police officers who claimed they had been defamed by a former cop, D Magazine, and the magazine’s writer following the publication of a story alleging the issuance of fraudulent misdemeanor citations.  In the process of overruling the plaintiffs’ complaint that the trial court had abused its discretion by failing to grant a further continuance of the summary judgment hearing, the court of appeals endorsed the San Antonio court’s formulation of “a qualified First Amendment privilege against compelled disclosure of confidential information possessed by a journalist.” The court also rejected the plaintiff’s objections to the writer’s affidavit, holding that his testimony of relying on anonymous sources was sufficient to establish a good faith basis for publishing the allegedly defamatory claims, which the plaintiffs had failed to rebut.  Finally, the court of appeals held that the defendants had submitted adequate evidence to prove their lack of actual malice against the plaintiffs, and that the plaintiff had failed to raise a fact issue to contradict that evidence.

Nelson v. Pagan, No. 05-09-01380-CV