Butcher v. University of MassachusettsAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Judicial Court held that the newspaper in this defamation case was not liable for republishing public police logs and requests for assistance received from a police department because the fair report privilege shielded the newspaper's editor from liability.
The University of Massachusetts Boston police department received a report that an unknown man was engaging in suspicious activity near campus, and the police included an account of this report in their blotter, a daily public policy log. The news editor of the school newspaper republished the blotter entry, a version of the report, and a photograph of Plaintiff. Plaintiff was subsequently identified as the unknown man. Plaintiff bright this action against university employees and the editor, alleging that they spread false reports about him. The trial judge granted summary judgment for the defendants. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the report and photograph fell under the fair report privilege.