The last two posts have been about the John Jay High School incident in which two players purposefully hit a referee from behind and then while he was lying prone on the ground. The first post examined Tennessee civil (not criminal) law on assault and battery. The second post reviewed the defense of provocation because the players claimed they were provoked by the referee’s use of racial slurs against them. On our final post on this incident, we will discuss Tennessee’s law on defamation. The referee has insinuated he might take legal action against the players for falsely stating he made racist remarks to, in what he believes, justify their battery of him. And yes, this all really did start as part of a high school football game.
Under Tennessee law, defamation can take two forms: slander and libel. Libel is a written defamatory statement and slander is a spoken defamatory statement. If someone has slandered you, then you have 6 months to bring suit. If someone has committed libel against you, you have one year to bring suit. To prove a case for defamation, you must show: Continue reading