Have you ever seen the movie Murder in Greewich? It’s about the 1975 slaying of Martha Moxley, a Connecticut teenager who was beat to death with a golf club on Halloween Eve. One of the more famous true crime cases of our time, Michael Skakel – a Kennedy relative – was convicted of the crime in 2002.
Last week, Skakel appeared before a parole board and asked for early release. But the day before that hearing, his attorney filed a slander lawsuit against popular litigator-turned-TV-criminal-pundit Nancy Grace.
Why Is Michael Skakel Suing Nancy Grace For Slander?
According to Greenwich Patch, Skakel’s slander lawsuit centers around a statement made on Grace’s show in January of this year. When discussing the case, Beth Karas – a correspondent – and the feisty host said that DNA evidence was found at the scene of the crime that linked Skakel to the murder. The problem is that Skakel is white, and the only DNA evidence found near Martha was that of two males — one African American and the other Asian.
Filed in the Stamford Superior Court, Skakel’s suit seeks defamation damages of around $2,500; Grace, Karas and Turner Broadcasting are all listed as defendants.
Can Prisoners File Slander Lawsuits?
After hearing Skakel’s plea for release, the parole board denied his request. So does that mean he can’t continue to pursue this slander lawsuit? Not at all.
While there are restrictions to the types of lawsuits prisoners can file in certain cases, no statutes currently on the books prevent Skakel from filing this slander lawsuit. That being said, one of the reasons he may be asking for only a couple thousand dollars is because a federal law passed in 1996 says there are limitations on how much a lawyer who represents a convicted criminal can collect.
Can Skakel Win This Slander Lawsuit Against Nancy Grace?
In order to win this slander lawsuit, Skakel will most likely have to prove that Grace and co. maliciously lied. As such, the defendants in this case will probably:
(a) bring up another piece of evidence related to the case and point to that as the topic of their discussion; or
(b) argue that their source information was wrong, but since they engaged in proper due diligence, the statement in question was not an intentional lie and therefore not defamatory in the legal sense of the word.
There’s also the ever-present possibility that Grace, Karas and Turner Broadcasting will agree to settle. And since Skakel isn’t asking for much, my bet is that we won’t hear much more about this slander lawsuit for long.
Have you or your business been defamed? Are adversaries or competitors smearing your good name? If you’re looking for an experienced slander attorney to litigate your defamation issue, we have the perfect legal team to deal with the situation – to your satisfaction. Get in touch today to learn about our slander litigation services.