Newspaper sues judge who says she was libelled
WASHINGTON–Claiming that a judge’s criticism damaged the newspaper’s reputation for truth and veracity, the Spokane Spokesman- Review filed a libel suit against a Spokane County District Court judge in early August.
Judge Donna Wilson filed a suit against the Spokesman-Review in early July after the paper ran a series of articles, opinion columns and editorial cartoons in 1993 and 1994, before Wilson’s re-election bid in November 1994. Wilson claimed in her suit that the newspaper fabricated a story about her reading paperback novels during a trial.
An attorney for the Spokesman-Review told the Associated Press that while the countersuit was the first it has filed in at least 17 years, the paper decided to countersue because judges “should be held to a higher standard when it comes to filing a lawsuit.” Editor Chris Peck told the AP that the paper filed suit to preserve its ability to report the news without “fear or favor.”
The newspaper articles prompted an investigation of Wilson by the state Commission on Judicial Conduct. In June 1994 the commission said it dropped the investigation due to insufficient evidence. (Wilson v. Spokesman-Review; Media Counsel: Duane Swinton, Spokane)