Judge rules on defamation lawsuits

Senior District Judge Charles Thompson ruled on the motion to dismiss the defamation cases filed by County Commissioners John Lampro and Mike Lemich against Cheryl Noriega, James Adams and Timothy McGowan. The trio filed a petition to recall the commissioners earlier this year.

Judge Thompson dismissed Lampros’ defamation case because of the anti-SLAPP statute (strategic lawsuit against public participation). The statute defines a SLAPP lawsuit as “a meritless suit filed primarily to chill the defendant’s exercise of First Amendment Rights” from the case John v. Douglas County School District. Under the statute, three types of good-faith communications made in furtherance of the right to petition remain protected:

1. Communication that is aimed at procuring any governmental or electoral action, result or outcome.

2. Communication of information or a complaint to a legislator, officer or employee of the Federal Government, this state or a political subdivision of this state, regarding a matter reasonably of concern to the respective governmental entity.

3. Written or oral statement made in direct connection with an issue under consideration b a legislative, executive or judicial body, or any other official proceeding authorized by law, which is truthful or is made without knowledge of its falsehood.

Judge Thompson dismissed four of the seven allegations in the defamation suit filed by Lemich.

A more detailed version of this story will appear in next week’s edition of The Ely Times.

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