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Pursell Suit Continues

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Agenda Publications
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ANN ARBOR- Dean Baker, the 1986 Democratie nominee for U.S. Congress, refiled his defamation suit against Congressman Cari Pursell in district court in Ann Arbor last month in hopes that the case will come to trial within the next six months. The suit sterns from their televised bate in the last weeks of the eloction campaign, in which Pursell claimed that Baker, along with others, had "decimated his congressional office in the process of protesting his support of Reagan's Central American policies. The suit, which was originally filed in Wayne County last year, was refiled in Ann Arbor because of the long backlog of cases in Wayne County Courts. The case will primarily determine whether candidates enjoy immunity from the libel law in the course of political campaigns. Cynthia Hudgins, the director of Pursell's Ann Arbor office, has conceded that the protests were peacetul and orderly, and Pursell's remarks were recorded on tape. However since Baker was a candidate for public office, it is necessary to meet a higher Standard for libel. The charge must nol only be false and damaging, but also made with malice or reckless disregard for the truth. Baker believes it should be possible to meet this higher standard, "since Cynthia Hudgins claims to have told Pursell on several occasions that the protest was peaceful, yet he persisted in making statements that he knew to be false."


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