Tennessee Supreme Court hears reporter defamation case

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee’s Supreme Court on Thursday took up the question of whether a reporter can be sued for defamation when reporting fairly and accurately on a public proceeding.

Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk is suing a Nashville investigative reporter over 2016 stories on a lawsuit Funk claims accused him of soliciting a bribe, extortion and blackmail.

At issue is whether reporting accurately on the lawsuit protects Phil Williams, or whether that’s unimportant if Funk’s attorney can show Williams harbored ill will against the official.

Funk’s attorney, John Enkema, said the justices should uphold precedent in which Tennessee courts have considered a reporter’s mindset in judging whether a news report is defamatory.

Williams’ attorney, Ron Harris, argued mindset is unimportant.

The Associated Press has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case.

Associated Press

Associated Press

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