Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tales from the Legal World

The libel lawsuit against John Grisham and his book The Innocent Man was dismissed yesterday. In his book Grisham described the wrongful convictions of two men for the murder and their exoneration using DNA evidence twelve years later.

The plaintiffs were Melvin Hett, a state criminologist, Pontotoc County District Attorney Bill Peterson and Gary Rogers, a former agent for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. They originally filed suit in September 2007 against Grisham and others, claiming libel, generating publicity for self interest by placing them in a false light, and intentionally inflicting emotional distress.

In dismissing the case, the judge wrote that to avoid the same mistakes in the future it is important that the legal system and "the wrongful convictions...be discussed openly and with great vigor."

6 comments:

D. said...

Hurts me to laud a moonbat like Grisham, but right is right and wrong is wrong.

The truth won. Glory be and saints be praised.

m clement hall said...

Perhaps Grisham can afford the cost of a legal defense, but most writers could not.
Suggests the ordinary writer needs to think twice about non-fiction books.

Adaora A. said...

I'm hopelessly bias (and if you're interested, completely and solely in my beloved John Grisham's corner). To be frank, the truth came out. See how bias I am? But I would love to know your view on this issue (having the legal background/experience yourself).

Jonathan Lyons said...

I don't enough about the case to comment, but I'm predisposed to supporting Grisham.

As for the previous comment regarding legal defense, I don't think this rather unusual case should or would discourage writers. Your defense should be paid for by the publisher, assuming you're in the right and you had either an agent or attorney vet your contract.

Chumplet said...

I don't know about the case in question, but in general the new technology available to clear innocent people can only be a good thing.

The case of nine-year-old Christine Jessop comes to mind. I often pass the general store where she was headed when she disappeared in 1984.

Jessop's murder led to one of Canada's most famous wrongful conviction cases. Guy Paul Morin was initially convicted of the crime, and then exonerated by DNA evidence in 1995.

Adaora A. said...

So you're like me then. The problem I have with these cases Mr. Lyons, is how these little critters seem to crawl out of their holes (of obscurity) and file papers to make some money. This never happens when a work is not so famous. Why? Because they don't care to take the time to make sure their work is properly in their favour until there is significant money to be made from the case. And of course, they sue for a chunk of how much someone is financially worth, not how much the suite is worth. Bloody hell.