Jeffery Todd Burke v. Sparta Newspapers, Inc.

Jeffery Todd Burke v. Sparta Newspapers, Inc.
M2016-01065-SC-R11-CV

This appeal requires us to determine whether the fair report privilege applies to a nonpublic, one-on-one conversation between a newspaper reporter and a detective of a county sheriff’s department, who also served as the public information officer for the sheriff’s department. The plaintiff sued the newspaper alleging that it had published defamatory statements the detective made about the plaintiff during the nonpublic, one-on-one conversation with the reporter. The newspaper moved for summary judgment based on the fair report privilege. The trial court granted the newspaper summary judgment, but the Court of Appeals reversed. We hold that the fair report privilege applies only to public proceedings or official actions of government that have been made public and does not apply to the nonpublic, one-on-one conversation at issue here. On this basis alone we affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals reversing the trial court’s decision granting the defendant summary judgment and remand to the trial court for further proceedings.  

Authoring Judge: 
Justice Cornelia A. Clark
Originating Judge: 
Judge Amy V. Hollars
Date Filed: 
Thursday, December 5, 2019