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Analyzing Defamation Suit Against Newspaper Filed By Catholic Leader

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(Duration: 4:00)

A defamation lawsuit filed by the headmaster of a Catholic boarding school against a Ford County newspaper has been allowed to go to trial. It stems from a letter to the editor in which he was incorrectly identified as the author.

Two years ago, the Rev. Michael McMahon of Georgetown-based Notre Dame de La Salette Boys Academy sued the Paxton Record and its publisher, the News-Gazette.  

In 2011, the paper erroneously identified him as the author of a letter to the editor, supporting gay rights.

This week, judge in Ford County denied a motion for summary jugment filed by newspaper’s attorney.  As reported in the News-Gazette Monday, the case is set to go to trial in January.

Professor Sheldon Nahmod is an expert on constitutional law at Chicago Kent College of Law. 

Illinois Public Media’s Jeff Bossert asked him what kind of potential damage can be caused by a letter to the editor, and specifically the difference between defamation and libel.