Beckley Newspapers Corp v. Hanks, No. 467

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM; BLACK; FORTAS
Citation389 U.S. 81,19 L.Ed.2d 248,88 S.Ct. 197
PartiesBECKLEY NEWSPAPERS CORP. v. C. Harold HANKS
Docket NumberNo. 467
Decision Date06 November 1967

389 U.S. 81
88 S.Ct. 197
19 L.Ed.2d 248
BECKLEY NEWSPAPERS CORP.

v.

C. Harold HANKS.

No. 467.
Nov. 6, 1967.

Thurman Arnold and Jack A. Mann, for petitioner.

Harry G. Camper, Jr., for respondent.

PER CURIAM.

The petition for certiorari is granted.

Respondent Hanks is the elected Clerk of the Criminal and Circuit Courts of Raleigh County, West Virginia. He brought this libel action in the West Virginia Circuit Court, Wyoming County, alleging that during his re-election campaign he was libeled by three editorials, highly critical of his official conduct, which appeared in petitioner's morning newspaper. The jury returned a verdict for respondent and awarded him $5,000 damages.

Page 82

The State Supreme Court of Appeals denied petitioner's application for appellate review.

Although this action was tried subsequent to the decisions of this Court in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 84 S.Ct. 710, 11 L.Ed.2d 686 (1964); Garrison v. State of Louisiana, 379 U.S. 64, 85 S.Ct. 209, 13 L.Ed.2d 125 (1964); Henry v. Collins, 380 U.S. 356, 85 S.Ct. 992, 13 L.Ed.2d 892 (1965); and Rosenblatt v. Baer, 383 U.S. 75, 86 S.Ct. 669, 15 L.Ed.2d 597 (1966), and despite the fact that it was recognized at trial that the principles of New York Times were applicable, the case went to the jury on instructions which were clearly impermissible. The jury was instructed in part that it could find for the respondent if it were shown that petitioner had published the editorials 'with bad or corrupt motive,' or 'from personal spite, ill will or a desire to injure plaintiff.' Because petitioner failed to object to this erroneous interpretation of New York Times at trial, and in fact offered instructions which were themselves inadequate, the issue of these instructions is not before us. However, since it is clear that the jury verdict was rendered upon instructions which misstated the law and since petitioner has properly challenged the sufficiency of the evidence, we have undertaken an independent examination of the record as a whole 'so as to assure ourselves that the judgment does not constitute a forbidden intrusion on the field of free expression.' New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, supra, 376 U.S., at 285, 84 S.Ct., at 729. See Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts, 388 U.S. 130, 156—159, 87 S.Ct. 1975, 1992—1993, 18 L.Ed.2d 1094 (1967) (opinion of Mr. Justice Harlan); id., at 168—170, 87 S.Ct., at 1998—1999 (opinion of The Chief Justice).

In New York Times we held that the Constitution forbids recovery of damages in a civil libel action by a public official, such as respondent, 'for a defamatory falsehood relating to his official conduct unless he proves that the statement was made with 'actual malice'—that is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless

Page 83

disregard of whether it was false or not.' 376 U.S., at 279—280, 84 S.Ct., at 726. Our examination of the whole record satisfies us that 'the proof presented to show actual malice lacks the convincing clarity which the constitutional standard demands * * *.' 376 U.S., at 285—286, 84 S.Ct., at 728.

We put aside the question whether the proofs show that the allegedly libelous statements were false. If false, respondent did not and does not contend that petitioner published the statements with knowledge of their falsity. His contention was and is that the proofs were sufficient for...

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184 practice notes
  • Nygård, Inc. v. Kustannusosakeyhtiö Iltalehti, B192639 (Cal. App. 6/21/2007), B192639
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 21 Junio 2007
    ...a triable issue of fact on that controversy. (See St. Amant v. Thompson, supra, 390 U.S. 727, 733; Beckley Newspapers v. Hanks (1967) 389 U.S. 81, 84-85.) Similarly, mere proof of ill will on the part of the publisher may likewise be insufficient. (Gomes v. Fried (1982) 136 Cal.App.3d 924, ......
  • Woodcock v. Journal Pub. Co., Inc., Nos. 14894
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • 2 Agosto 1994
    ...or with an intent to inflict harm will not be sufficient to support a finding of actual malice; Beckley Newspapers Corporation v. Hanks, [389 U.S. 81, 82-83, 88 S.Ct. 197, 198-199, 19 L.Ed.2d 248 (1967) ]; Henry v. Collins, 380 U.S. 356, 357, 85 S.Ct. 992, 993, 13 L.Ed.2d 892 (1965); althou......
  • Fitts v. Kolb, Civ. A. No. 3:90-2119-17.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • 20 Noviembre 1991
    ...Co. v. Butts, 388 U.S. 130, 87 S.Ct. 1975, 18 L.Ed.2d 1094 (1967). 70 Padgett v. Sun News, 278 S.C. 26, 292 S.E.2d 30, 34 (1982). 71 389 U.S. 81, 88 S.Ct. 197, 19 L.Ed.2d 248 72 Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444, 89 S.Ct. 1827, 23 L.Ed.2d 430 (1969). 73 Gooding v. Wilson, 405 U.S. 518, 92 S......
  • Gambardella v. Apple Health Care, Inc., No. 17977.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • 19 Mayo 2009
    ...or with an intent to inflict harm will not be sufficient to support a finding of actual malice; Beckley Newspapers [Corp.] v. Hanks, [389 U.S. 81, 81-82, 88 S.Ct. 197, 19 L.Ed.2d 248 (1967)]; Henry v. Collins, 380 U.S. 356, 357, 85 S.Ct. 992, 13 L.Ed.2d 892 (1965); although such evidence ma......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
184 cases
  • Nygård, Inc. v. Kustannusosakeyhtiö Iltalehti, B192639 (Cal. App. 6/21/2007), B192639
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 21 Junio 2007
    ...a triable issue of fact on that controversy. (See St. Amant v. Thompson, supra, 390 U.S. 727, 733; Beckley Newspapers v. Hanks (1967) 389 U.S. 81, 84-85.) Similarly, mere proof of ill will on the part of the publisher may likewise be insufficient. (Gomes v. Fried (1982) 136 Cal.App.3d 924, ......
  • Woodcock v. Journal Pub. Co., Inc., Nos. 14894
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • 2 Agosto 1994
    ...or with an intent to inflict harm will not be sufficient to support a finding of actual malice; Beckley Newspapers Corporation v. Hanks, [389 U.S. 81, 82-83, 88 S.Ct. 197, 198-199, 19 L.Ed.2d 248 (1967) ]; Henry v. Collins, 380 U.S. 356, 357, 85 S.Ct. 992, 993, 13 L.Ed.2d 892 (1965); althou......
  • Fitts v. Kolb, Civ. A. No. 3:90-2119-17.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • 20 Noviembre 1991
    ...Co. v. Butts, 388 U.S. 130, 87 S.Ct. 1975, 18 L.Ed.2d 1094 (1967). 70 Padgett v. Sun News, 278 S.C. 26, 292 S.E.2d 30, 34 (1982). 71 389 U.S. 81, 88 S.Ct. 197, 19 L.Ed.2d 248 72 Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444, 89 S.Ct. 1827, 23 L.Ed.2d 430 (1969). 73 Gooding v. Wilson, 405 U.S. 518, 92 S......
  • Gambardella v. Apple Health Care, Inc., No. 17977.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • 19 Mayo 2009
    ...or with an intent to inflict harm will not be sufficient to support a finding of actual malice; Beckley Newspapers [Corp.] v. Hanks, [389 U.S. 81, 81-82, 88 S.Ct. 197, 19 L.Ed.2d 248 (1967)]; Henry v. Collins, 380 U.S. 356, 357, 85 S.Ct. 992, 13 L.Ed.2d 892 (1965); although such evidence ma......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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