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Bill Cooper and Libel - Comments by a Reporter

From: campbell@ufomind.com (Glenn Campbell, Las Vegas)
Date: Sat, 1 Feb 1997 19:03:11 -0800
Subject: Bill Cooper and Libel - Comments by a Reporter

From: [withheld by request]
Subject: Re: AREA 51: The Law According to Bill Cooper (Made my day)
Date: Thu, 30 Jan 1997 07:58:45 -0800

Having been a reporter for more than 20 years and worked for newspapers
from a 2,000 circulation small town daily to a 500,000 circulation
daily, I believe this guy is all wet.  I'm not a lawyer and I don't know
what state he's in, because the laws of libel and slander do vary from
state to state.  However, having been sued several times--the newspaper
prevailed in all of them--for as much as $3,000,000--I know that truth
is always a defense for libel.  Sometimes the plaintiff's attorneys try
to get inside your head and try to prove malice, but all you have to say
is you had no malice towards the plaintiff and were just reporting the
truth.  If you don't shoot yourself in the foot, you can usually win
such cases.  A reporter I supervised once in Fort Worth was sued, along
with the newspaper of course, by a psychiatrist who testified at a
capital murder trial where the defendant received the death penalty.
The psychiatrist sues because Les, one of the reporters on the West
Texas desk, where I was West Texas editor, wrote that "Dr. Death" as he
was known statewide seemed "unsure" of his testimony.  Dr. Death didn't
like that so he sued and his attorneys tried to get me and several other
reporters from different newspapers to say Les had malice towards his
client.  Les had no more malice towards Dr. Death than he did any other
witness whose testimony seemed a little flaky.  Les didn't have anything
against Dr. Death, he just personally thought he was nuttier than the
defendant he supposedly examined. It was simply based on what he heard
in the courtroom, nothing personal, strictly Les' professional opinion.

Secondly, if this guy gave public lectures or addresses to groups or
made any kind of public pronouncements, you can't copyright that, its
public domain stuff.  You can't claim ex post facto copyright damages.

Also if this guy is any kind of "public figure" then the case of New
York Times vs Sullivan, decided in the early 1960s, would protect you
also.  Times vs. Sullivan basically made it open season on any "public
figure" and if this guy makes lectures, appears in newspapers or on TV,
writes books, etc. then the "public figure" moniker could be applied
fairly easilly.

I'm not an attorney, but most journalism students have more training in
press law, libel, and slander as an undergraduate, than lawyers do in 3
years of law school.  In J-school libel and slander are constantly
drilled into you no matter what journalism course you are taking.

Just from reading this guy's rantings and ravings he seems like some
kind of nut case and those are the kind that file lawsuits just for the
harassment value, whether or not they have any true legal merit.

Keep up the good work, your web site and the UFO mailing list are numero
uno on my bookmarks list.



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