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View Diary: Conservatives literally make stuff up to smear Michael Brown (219 comments)

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  •  Not a lawyer, but I think you're wrong. (0+ / 0-)

    Seems to me the estate of a deceased person can pursue defamation civil suits.

    I'll wait here while some of the lawyer types smack me down . . .

    •  please don't take this as advice (1+ / 0-)
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      However, these statements also share one other important element: They were all published after the subjects had died. As a result, the publishers are protected by the longstanding rule that you cannot defame the dead (which, in practical terms, means you can). Once Elvis has left the living, you can say anything you want about him. No matter how malicious, untrue or vile.

      Indeed, while most people are raised not to speak ill of the dead, the law fully supports those who do. Under the common-law rules governing defamation, a reputation is as perishable as the person who earned it. It is a rule first expressed in the Latin doctrine actio personalis moritur cum persona (“a personal right of action dies with the person”). The English jurist Sir James Stephen put it more simply in 1887, “The dead have no rights and can suffer no wrongs.” In other words, you’re fair game as soon as you die — even if writers say viciously untrue things about you and your life.

      until the changed the law,  many tort actions died with the person, until they let the estates continue those, which they could.

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