One defamation trial could lead to another as a Richmond circuit judge is seeking $1.35 million against a newspaper that allegedly accused the judge of playing politics with lawyers.
Judge Melvin Hughes filed suit last week against the publisher of “The Richmond Voice” in Chesterfield County Circuit Court.
At issue was an article in the paper describing the outcome of an earlier defamation claim against the paper. A middle school teacher sued the paper alleging he was falsely accused of abusing disabled students. Judge Hughes presided over a jury trial that led to a judgment against the paper.
The resulting article – authored by Voice president Jack Green – indicated he had viewed the teacher’s lawsuit as frivolous. “We did not take into account the politics played in a courtroom – between judges and counsel – and the maneuverings of counsel who treat facts casually,” Green allegedly wrote in the paper.
Hughes claims the paper either knew the statements to be false or made them with reckless disregard as to their truth.
His lawsuit demands $1 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages.
By Peter Vieth