Nashua newspaper did not defame prisoner, Supreme Court rules
The court said The Telegraph and its reporter, Andrew Wolfe, did not libel prisoner Paul Sanguedolce, 39, formerly of Sanford, Maine, and concluded the "untrue statement that the plaintiff testified against his criminal associate cannot be reasonably construed as defamatory."
However, the case is not over yet because the court also ruled Sanguedolce may be able to make a negligence claim against the newspaper and referred the case back to the lower court for further proceedings.
Sanguedolce, 39, pleaded guilty in Hillsborough County Superior Court, Southern District, to burglary in connection with a March 2008 home invasion in which an elderly man was tied up and robbed. He was sentenced to 3 to 8 years in the New Hampshire State Prison for Men in Concord. His minimum sentence is up on Aug. 3 although his maximum sentence ends on Aug. 2, 2018.
Wolfe, in an April 21, 2011, article about Sanguedolce's co-defendant Peter Gibbs, wrote that Sanguedolce "testified against" Gibbs at his trial. Sanguedolce did not testify against him, according to the Supreme Court. The newspaper subsequently ran a correction.
Sanguedolce argued that Telegraph readers could find that he, in testifying against Gibbs, had acted as a "rat," "tattletale," "snitch," or had committed perjury or "cut a deal" in exchange for leniency. He contended society often associates informants with disloyalty, betrayal and self-interest, and relies on a body of commentary highlighting that informants are often derided and loathed by society for those attributes.
The court said there may be some elements in our society, prisoners in particular, who would look unkindly on those who willingly cooperate with the authorities in apprehending or convicting a criminal.
"The prevailing view among law-abiding citizens, however, is that such conduct reflects good moral character, respect for the rule of law, a willingness to place the interests of truth, justice, and the social order above one's own self interest or petty loyalties," the court said.
Citing Connelly vs. McKay (Sup. Ct 1941), the court said, "To hold otherwise would be contrary to the public interest in that it would penalize the law-abiding citizen and give comfort to the law violator."
READER COMMENTS: 0
- Gail Fisher's Dog Tracks: Before your dog takes a dip in fresh water, learn about toxic algae risks - 0
- Another View -- Yehuda Yaakov: What Israel is up against - 6
- Another View -- Betsy McCaughey: Scaremongering is the left's hobby - 2
- Another View -- Steve Stanek: Impact fees for new homes actually raise property taxes - 6
- John Stossel: Who will build the roads? - 0
- Jonah Goldberg: Attacking Israel with the big lie -- genocide - 1
- Pat Buchanan: Balkanization beckons - 2
- Charles Arlinghaus: The same stuff sells in politics as everywhere - 3
- Another View -- Virginia Postrel: Speech rules turn colleges into no-thought zones - 4
READER COMMENTS: 2
- Market Basket workers rally, urged to 'shut it down' until ousted CEO returns - 0
- Man arrested after shots allegedly fired in Mont Vernon - 0
- Rochester gas station robbed; Police: Could be one in string - 0
- Maine man hurt in ATV accident in northern NH - 0
- Katie McQuaid's Scene In Manchester: Tracking street crime is her game - 0
- Shaheen's record: On insurance, it is dismal - 7
- On Baseball: NH's Anderson glad to be back - 0
- Republican congressional candidate Lambert says he'd serve only 3 terms - 2
- Joe McQuaid's Publisher's Notebook: The grandson also rises - 1
DWI License Revocations
Market Basket shelves growing bare
Shaheen's record: On insurance, it is dismal
Anti-SUV flop: Americans love utility
- Should mortar-style firework sales to the public be prohibited?
- Total Votes: 1507