Appeals court upholds $6M libel ruling against newspaper

December 18, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — An appeals court has upheld a libel ruling against a North Carolina newspaper that resulted in a $6 million award for a firearms expert whose work was questioned in articles.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that State Bureau of Investigation agent Beth Desmond showed sufficient evidence The News & Observer misrepresented expert quotations or used them out of context. The court rejected arguments that evidence helpful to the newspaper was improperly excluded at trial and that the jury wasn’t properly instructed.

Desmond argues she was defamed in 2010 articles criticizing and questioning her work in two murder cases.

Lawyer John Bussian said the newspaper will seek to have the libel verdict overturned by the state Supreme Court. He said the newspaper’s work is protected by the First Amendment.

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