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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Officer wins defamation suit

Friday, July 25, 2008

Although a jury ordered the Terre Haute Tribune-Star to pay a $1.5 million defamation settlement Thursday, it was a normal workday for a member of the Clay County Sheriff's Department Friday.

"I don't know how to comment about the case," Det. Jeff Maynard told The Brazil Times. "I'm just letting it all sink in right now. I'm glad it's over."

The lawsuit stems from two incidents when the Tribune-Star published stories about Maynard's involvement in a Clay City woman's allegations of misconduct during a traffic stop Feb. 28, 2004.

The Indiana State Police investigated the incident and cleared Maynard of the allegations, despite two stories appearing in the Tribune-Star in March and April 2004.

The Tribune-Star later published a story -- which was not cited in the lawsuit -- in June 2004 stating Maynard had been cleared of all allegations and the Clay City woman had been charged with false reporting, a class-B misdemeanor. However, a plea agreement was later negotiated for the woman that dismissed the charge.

Maynard filed the lawsuit initially in Vigo County in June 30, 2004, but the case was transferred to Sullivan Circuit Court.

The Tribune-Star unsuccessfully requested a Sullivan County judge dismiss the lawsuit because an Indiana Law shields the public and press from attempts to curb free-speech rights in matters of public interest.

The trial, which started Tuesday, was handed over to a six-member jury Thursday, who deliberated for approximately two hours before returning a finding that Maynard had been defamed by the stories.

According to the Associated Press, Tribune-Star publisher Jeremiah Turner said he was disappointed with the jury's decision and would consider appealing the ruling.

"We have always felt and still do that the way we reported the story was truthful, accurate and fair," Turner said. "At this point, we are considering all the options available to us, including an appeal."

Maynard was awarded $500,000 in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages. According to Indiana law, in a civil lawsuit brought by a private plaintiff 75 percent of awarded punitive damages goes to support the state's violent crime victims compensation fund.

But, for Maynard, the last four years of legal battles were never about money.

"I wanted to prove my innocence," Maynard said, admitting he was still in shock over the ruling. "This is a victory for me and my family, but, more importantly, it's a victory for all my fellow law enforcement officers."

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UhOhNoNo- Just because you are a shallow person driven by greed doesn't mean that everybody else is.

-- Posted by sceptic on Tue, Jul 29, 2008, at 5:15 PM

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