Email address:. Please provide an email address. Categories of Interest: Select All. Current Affairs. Historical Fiction. True Crime. Profession: Author. Event Coordinator. Film Executive. Foreign Publisher. It had been held together with hush money, fears of prison and, if all else failed, promises of presidential clemency. On June 17, , four expatriate Cubans and Mr.
Days of Madness: D. Todd Christofferson and the Watergate Scandal
But a night watchman alerted the police, and they were caught, odd burglars in business suits carrying cameras and walkie-talkies. Howard Hunt , a former C. McCord revealed at an arraignment that he had once worked for the C. But in January , Mr. Hunt and the burglars pleaded guilty, and Mr. McCord and Mr. Liddy were convicted in a federal trial, all seven on charges of burglary, wiretapping and conspiracy. At sentencing later, Judge John J. Sirica read a letter from Mr.
McCord charging that witnesses had committed perjury and implying that the White House had covered up its connection to the break-in and pressured the burglars to plead guilty and remain silent. In later statements to the judge, Mr. McCord implicated senior presidential aides in bribery, threats and promises of clemency to secure silence. Dozens of conspirators went to prison, but Nixon was pardoned by his successor, President Gerald R.
To forecast a decision of the state's highest court we can consider, inter alia: canons of construction, restatements of the law, treatises, recent pronouncements of general rules or policies by the state's highest court, well considered dicta, and the state's trial court decisions. In recent years, the Court of Appeals of Maryland has indicated its willingness to apply more flexible choice-of-law rules from the Second Restatement in situations when the First Restatement rules have become unworkable.
Specifically, in Hauch v. Connor, A. Similarly, in American Motorists Ins. Because multistate defamation is a tort for which the lex loci delicti rule fails to reach a satisfactory result on the choice of applicable substantive law, we believe, based upon the cases cited above, that the Court of Appeals of Maryland would consider the rule outlined in the Restatement Second of Conflict of Laws to select the applicable substantive law. See Fornshill, F. Fox Broadcasting Co. The Second Restatement contains a specific section addressing multistate defamation that provides:.
Wells notes that the Don and Mike show was broadcast in Louisiana, the state of her domicile. Under Louisiana law, whether a statement is capable of having a defamatory meaning is a question of law.
See Ryan v. Shreveport Times Publ'g Co. If the court concludes, as a matter of law, the words are capable of having a defamatory meaning, it then becomes a jury question whether the words, as applied to plaintiff, in fact defamed him. Defamatory words are those that would expose a person to contempt or ridicule, or cause a person to be shunned or avoided.
Defamatory words include almost any language which on its face has a tendency to injure a person's reputation. Consideration must be given to the entire statement that was made and the circumstances of its publication. Words which impute criminal action to another are defamatory per se. Tonubbee v. River Parishes Guide, So. In deciding whether the words are capable of a defamatory meaning, the publication must be read as a whole. The words must be construed according to the meaning that will be given them by reasonable individuals of ordinary intelligence and sensitivity.
Their significance must not be distorted to give an unusual meaning, and they are to be understood only in the context in which they were used and in the manner shown by the circumstances under which they were used. Brown v. News-World Publ'g Corp. We turn now to applying the Louisiana law to Liddy's statements on the Don and Mike show. Wells asserts that the following statements are capable of defamatory meaning:.
F3d Ida Maxwell Wells v. G Gordon Liddy Phillip Mackin Bailley | OpenJurist
Liddy: Okay, I was the political intelligence chieftain, as well as the general counsel of the Committee to Reelect the President. Liddy: Now, to make a long story short. That was kind of what it was all about and if you want a secondary source on Watergate, you know, to read about what was going on and everything. We cannot conclude that these statements when read in context and given their ordinary and common meaning would be understood "by reasonable individuals of ordinary intelligence and sensitivity," as impugning Wells's reputation.
G. Gordon Liddy
Brown, So. Although the statements indicate that the telephone on Wells's desk was bugged during Watergate, the statements do not indicate her participation in that activity or any other criminal acts, including prostitution activities. Establishing only a connection between Wells and Watergate is not sufficient to create defamatory meaning. Liddy's comments on the Don and Mike show do not take the extra step of establishing a direct connection between Wells, or even her desk, and the prostitution ring to which the DNC was allegedly referring visitors.
Here, Liddy merely referred listeners to Silent Coup for the details of the Watergate break-in. Wells argues that the Silent Coup reference is sufficient to alert listeners to the alleged connection between her and the DNC call-girl ring.
We cannot agree. Silent Coup itself does not explicitly state that Wells was personally involved in prostitution activities. Under Louisiana law, we must assess the defamatory meaning of a claim in terms of the reasonable listener of ordinary sensitivity. See Brown, So. A reasonable Don and Mike listener familiar with Silent Coup would not necessarily reach the conclusion that Wells was linked to prostitution activities.
Thus, fair inferences from the Don and Mike show broadcast do not negatively impact Wells's reputation. Accordingly, we conclude that the statements are not capable of defamatory meaning, and we affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment on this claim. Finally, we assess the final allegedly defamatory statement, the comments that appeared on the Accuracy in Media web site. Wells does not challenge the district court's application of Louisiana law to this claim.
Louisiana law is applicable because publication from a world wide web site is another example of multistate defamation, and, therefore, following our analysis in the previous part, we apply the law of Wells's domicile. For an unknown period of time, the Accuracy in Media web site contained the following statement:. Of the four statements that Wells has claimed to be defamatory, this statement most clearly associates Wells with criminal activity.
As a result, the statement is capable of defamatory meaning. There are evidentiary problems, however, that preclude attributing the statement to Liddy, and, therefore, the district court's grant of summary judgment was appropriate. The record is devoid of any proof that Liddy ever spoke to Accuracy in Media regarding the Watergate break-in 19 or authorized them to use his theory.
Thus, we cannot conclude that Wells has met an essential element of a defamation cause of action under Louisiana law -publication. See Wiggins v. Creary, So. An exception to this rule exists when the republication is the "natural and probable consequence of the defendant's act.
Tullier, So. Here, however, Wells has not pleaded or put forth any proof on this point of Louisiana law.
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