Béneditsch Ardpresteir, who recently was found guilty of making a defamatory statement related to the dismissal of Magniloqueu Épiqeu da Lhiun as TALOSSAssistant, has filed his appeal of the conviction with the Uppermost Cort. The dismissal came about after da Lhiun made statements calling for Ardpresteir's "immediate resignation" or saying that it was his "personal agenda" to bring Ardpresteir down. Ardpresteir, who was the Minister of Immigration at the time, viewed these statements as insubordinate and terminated da Lhiun's position as TALOSSAssistant.

In the appeal, Ardpresteir's defense counsel argues that the judgement rendered by Magistrate Owen Edwards only focused on whether or not "certain insubordinate activities" were actually committed by da Lhiun, rather than whether or not Ardpresteir made that statement with the intent to defame da Lhiun, nor was there every any demonstration that Ardpresteir ever actually showed any malice towards or intent to defame da Lhiun.

Furthermore, the appeal argues that da Lhiun's statements were actually insubordinate in the first place, making the statement "certain insubordinate activities" true, meaning that it cannot be considered defamation. Magistrate Edwards, the appeal concludes, seems to accept the argument made by da Lhiun that there was no insubordination committed simply because da Lhiun's statements were made "in the public square". In other words, the Magistrate accepts the argument that "abusive and public criticism of one's superior is not insubordinate".

In his Motion to Dismiss or Affirm, appellee Magniloqueu Épiqeu da Lhiun rebuts some of the arguments made by Ardpresteir's counsel, specifically the appeal's reliance on a 1964 United States Supreme Court case New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, writing that "the appellant himself has serious flaws in his interpretation of the ... cited court case." He believes that the case, which should only be used by the Uppermost Cort in an advisory manner, only extends the proof of "actual malice" safeguard to members of the press who are sued for possible defamatory statements, and thus, Ardpresteir does not enjoy that safeguard that requires the person suing for defamation to first prove that the statement was made with malice or intent to defame. Additionally, while TALOSSAssistants do provide a public service to the nation, they should not be truly considered public officials. Basically, da Lhiun argues, this case is simply "a dispute between an employer and an employee, of which the employee has been wrongfully dismissed".

Counsel for the appellant, Alexandreu Davinescu, disagrees, arguing that the US Supreme Court's holding in Sullivan only extends the safeguards to members of the press that were already being enjoyed by public officials. He also points to a Wisconsin statute that provides a contrasting definition between who is a public officer or public employee, arguing that being a TALOSSAssistant clearly falls into the public officer or official category.

What began as a heated argument over "too many hats," or too many possibly conflicting public positions being held by one individual, unwound itself into a public dismissal and a several month long lawsuit that will shape the bounds of defamation law in this country. Interestingly, one side argues that because their statements were made in the public square as an individual (or while donning the "private citizen" hat), it cannot be considered insubordinate behavior and used against them in a dismissal. The other side, while making an effort to ignore the fact that they might have grounds to bring their own defamation lawsuit, seem to be defending what could be viewed by some as malice, in that the person who was fired got an immediate (albeit temporary) promotion in the same public notice. Of course, at the end of the day, the person being sued no longer holds the office in question, and given the slow nature of our court system, there probably won't be a resolution of the case until after another General Election (and possibly another government), and long after the four week sentence of civil disability has passed.

The appeal has been assigned to Pusine Justice Litz Cjantscheir.


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