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15. What must a government official prove in order to win a defamation suit against a private citizen?
She must prove that D, with actual malice, published a false story that damaged her reputation in the eyes of respectable people.
Actual malice means that D published with knowledge of falsity, or reckless disregard for the truth.
Note that all defamation publication must be either intentional or negligent.
An innocent or non-negligent publication will not support any kind of defamation action against any kind of defendant because of first amendment free speech rights.
Examine your facts to see that the publication qualifies.
Publication means causing someone other than the plaintiff to hear or read the defamatory thing and understand it in its defamatory sense. Perhaps with a little help from previously known facts.
Opinions are not defamatory and are a defense; but if they contain false facts or false innuendo they are defamatory.
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