Media & Communications Law

John Grisham Sued for Libel

Posted Oct 1, 2007 5:49 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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The best-selling author of numerous legal thrillers has been sued for libel over his first nonfiction work, The Innocent Man.

In an unusual federal libel conspiracy case, John Grisham, along with other authors and publishers, has been sued by a prosecutor and law enforcement officer over three nonfiction books published about two murders that occurred years ago, reports the Muskogee Phoenix. Two defendants were reportedly proven by DNA evidence to be innocent of one of the crimes after having spent 11 years in prison (one was on death row).

The plaintiffs contend their professional reputations were damaged by books by Grisham, Dennis Fritz (one of the exonerated defendants) and Robert Mayer, and say the defendants participated in a civil conspiracy “to commit libel, publicity placing a person in false light and intentional infliction of emotion distress," explains the Journal Record, an Oklahoma City newspaper.

"The complaint states that in the author’s note to those who helped him with his book, Grisham thanks Fritz and states that he relied heavily on Mayer’s book. The filing refers to Fritz and Mayer as co-conspirators and alleges that there are knowingly false statements in all three works," the Journal Record article continues.

Attorney Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project, which represented Fritz, also is named as a defendant in the suit filed by Gary Richardson, a Tulsa lawyer. Grisham reportedly sits on the board of the Innocence Project.

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