Using Privilege As A Defamation Defense

There are several defenses to an accusation of defamation. Examples include proving that what you published was the truth, proving that you had the plaintiff's consent and proving that it was privileged (conditional or absolute) information. The first two defenses are easy to understand, but the third one is not. As a defamation defense, absolute privilege comes in four main forms, namely, legislative, judicial, executive and domestic. Here is what you need to know about them all:

Legislative Privilege

This privilege can only be used by those who work for the legislature – the arm of the government that formulates laws. It extends to both state and federal legislative officials. As an official in the legislative arm of the government, this privilege covers you if you are accused of making a defamatory statement.

This defense will work even if what you uttered was irrelevant to the issue that was being discussed at the time. However, there is a caveat: you must have uttered the statement during an official government business meeting. This is not a defense you can use if you are accused of making a defamatory statement in a bar, even if you are a legislator.

Judicial Privilege

Judicial privilege works more or less the same as a legislative privilege. The main differences are that:

  • It applies to the judicial arm of the government. This means that you can only use it if you work for the judicial arm of the local or federal government, such as the courts.
  • You can also use it if you made the controversial statement outside official meetings as long as you made it in your official capacity, and it is relevant to a government issue.
  • It covers even those who do not work for the judicial government, but are connected to a judicial process, such as jurors.

Executive Privilege

As for the executive privilege, you can only invoke it if you work for the executive arm of the state or federal government. This is the branch that deals with administration, execution and enforcement of laws. The main difference between this and the other privileges discussed above is that it applies only to senior/high-ranking executive government officials such as governors and cabinet members.

Domestic Privilege

Lastly, there is the domestic privilege that applies to spouses. You can use this defense if you have been accused of defamation, but you made the questionable statement to your spouse. This privilege was instituted to prevent interference in domestic relations.

Obviously, the court will not just take your word for it when you use any of these defenses. You need to substantiate your claim, which is where a good personal injury lawyer, like those at Robert M Kaner Attorney, comes in.

About Me

The Internet Makes Learning about Law Easier than Ever

Unlike many children growing up today, I am old enough to remember what life was like before the internet became popular! Many years ago, I ended up in a messy legal situation that stemmed from a simple misunderstanding. It turned out that I actually did not break the law, and finding that out in court was a great relief! While I had a great lawyer who helped me during that time, reading some legal information for myself about the laws surrounding my incident could have greatly eased my worries during the stressful time. I have since dedicated myself to learning more about the law, so I never have to deal with a legal mess again. I thought I would make a blog to share some legal knowledge I have acquired along with some general legal tips. I hope I can help many people!

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