Lieutenant Gets Access To Blogger’s Computer

Lieutenant Vincent Benvenuto is a 12-year veteran of the Hartford Police Department in Connecticut. Benvenuto became the target of anonymous commentors to a blog, known as “We The People-Hartford,” maintained and operated by Kevin Brookman. The Blog contains two sections. In the first, Brookman publishes his investigative reports derived from attending Department and City Hall press briefings and news conferences and general investigation through various personal sources. The second…

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Prosecutor Cannot Be Sued For Stating At Roll Call That Sergeant Was A Thief And A Liar

In early 2016, Officer Edwin Diaz, a 20-year veteran working in the Narcotics Bureau of the Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD), became the subject of an internal investiga­tion. The investigation came in the wake of several high-profile arrests of MDPD police officers. The MDPD’s investigators worked in conjunction with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office. The investigation into Diaz was based on allegations that…

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Officer Loses Lawsuit Against Prosecutor For Roll Call Comments

Edwin Diaz is a Miami-Dade Police Officer assigned to the Department’s Narcotics Bureau. On February 26, 2016, Diaz was arrested as part of a sting operation being conducted by the Department, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office. The investigation focused on whether Narcotics Bureau officers were stealing money from crime scenes. Diaz’s arrest occurred when, as he drove home, several of his fellow…

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Officer ‘Public Official’ For Purposes Of Defamation Lawsuit

In a case involving Officer Frank Fones of the Montgomery County Police Department, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals began its opinion by writing that “this is, at its core, an employment dispute that seeks an encore as a defamation claim.” Fones served as a canine officer for about twenty years. He was transferred out of that unit after a series of events involving his assigned police canine, Chip….

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The ‘Public Official’ Rule And Defamation Lawsuits

In 1964, the United States Supreme Court published a groundbreaking decision on the law of defamation. In New York Times v. Sullivan, the Court held that the free speech protections of the First Amendment meant that a “public official” could not file a defamation of character (i.e., libel or slander) lawsuit unless the official could prove that the defamatory statement was made with “malice.” Sullivan defined “malice” as the…

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The Difficulty Police Have In Suing For Defamation

Public safety employees, particularly law enforcement officers, face almost insurmountable obstacles in suing for defamation of character. Various court-created rules, including the “opinion” and “public official” rules, routinely block lawsuits from ever getting to a jury. Precisely such a thing recently happened in the Kentucky Court of Appeals. Officer Sam Cromity works for the Louisville Metro Police Department. On March 18, 2011, Cromity cited Terry Meiners on the Watterson…

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