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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA

Case No. 08-cv-02981

STANLEY J. CATERBONE
and
ADVANCED MEDIA GROUP
Plaintiffs

v.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
BUREAU OF DRIVER LICENSING
and
BEVERLY J. POINTS
ADMINISTRATIVE COUNSEL-IN-CHARGE
VEHICLE AND TRAFFIC LAW DIVISION
PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
OFFICE OF CHIEF COUNSEL
and
ERICA C. WEITZEL
ADULT PROBATION OFFICER
OFFICE OF STANDARD PROBATION
ADULT PROBATION & PAROLE SERVICE
COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF LANCASTER COUNTY
and
LANCASTER COUNTY ADULT PROBATION OFFICE
OFFICE OF STANDARD PROBATION
ADULT PROBATION & PAROLE SERVICE
COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF LANCASTER COUNTY
Defendants

     ORDER of October 10, 2008 by U.S. District Court Judge Mary A. McLaughlin - (Case will be re-filed upon resolving problems of obstruction of justice and due process (computer hacking, thefts, harassments, etc.,)

"AND NOW, this 10th day of October, 2008, upon consideration of plaintiff’s Motion for Withdraw Without Prejudice (Doc. No. 6) IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:

(1)  Plaintiff’s Motion for Withdraw Without Prejudice is GRANTED; and

(2)  This case shall remain CLOSED statistically."

_____________________________________________________________________

TO THE HONORABLE, THE JUDGES OF SAID COURT:

     AND NOW comes Plaintiff, Stanley J. Caterbone, as pro se, and respectfully avers as follows: Petitioner, Stanley J. Caterbone, resides at 1250 Fremont Street, Lancaster, PA, 17603, is a United States Citizen and Advanced Media Group is a fictitious name registered in Pennsylvania with it’s principal place of business in Pennsylvania.. Petitioners Pennsylvania Operator's Number is 18195782. Petitioner files a CIVIL COMPLAINT against the DEFENDANTS named in the above caption on this 6th day of June 2008 in the Untied States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. This complaint is filed under duress.

Date: June 6, 2008
Stanley J. Caterbone, Pro Se
1250 Fremont Street
Lancaster, PA 17603
amgroup01@msn.com
www.amgglobalentertainmentgroup.com

CIVIL COMPLAINT

INTRODUCTION
Plaintiff, Stanley J. Caterbone (CATERBONE) files this complaint after countless hours and communications to the parties to resolve the issue of his Pennsylvania Drivers License status and privileges and to restore his correct record. Stanley J. Caterbone was detained by two law enforcement agencies since April 10, 2008 and cited once by the Pennsylvania State Police for Driving while under Suspension for a DUI related offense. The other detention was on May 28th, 2008 by the East Lampeter Police Department.

1. On April 10th, 2008 the PLAINTIFF (CATERBONE) received two (2) Notices from the Commonwealth Of Pennsylvania Department Of Transportation Bureau Of Driver Licensing (PENNDOT) via 1st class U.S.P.S. mail. The fist Notice was an ACCEPTANCE into the Accelerative Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program in CLEARFLIED CTY, Pennsylvania. PENNDOT stated that CATERBONE violated A3802A2 of the Vehicle Code or Driving Under the Influence with a BAC count of greater than .08 but less than 1.0 on August 24, 2007. The Notice also stated that CATERBONE’s Pennsylvania Drivers Privilege was suspended for a period of five (5) years as mandated by law; because of the violation being CATERBONE’s third major offense within one (1) year. The NOTICE also demanded that CATERBONE was required to return his Pennsylvania Drivers License no later than April 14, 2008. See Exhibit A.

2. On the same day, CATERBONE received another NOTICE from PENNDOT stating that “The Court has informed PennDOT that you (CATERBONE) have been accepted into the Accelerative Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program for violating A3802A2 of the Vehicle Code on August 24, 2008. Since this the only driving under the influence offense on your Pennsylvania driver record during the past ten years, no suspension is being imposed at this time”. See Exhibit B.


3. CATERBONE was never driving in CLEARFIELD COUNTY PENNSYLVANIA on August 24, 2007 or on any other day, and in fact was not driving under his Pennsylvania Drivers License at all during that time period, and was never in CLEARFIELD COUNTY PENNSYLVANIA.


4. CATERBONE, on the same day, April 10th, 2008 then went and delivered a copy to Mr. Craig Steadman, Lancaster County District Attorney at his office at the Lancaster County Courthouse. The copy is attached as EXHIBIT A and B.


5. CATERBONE, on the same day, April 10th, 2008 then went to see Ms. Erica C. Weitzel (WEITZEL) (then Probation Officer of Record for Case No. 3179-06) of the Adult Probation Officer, Office Of Standard Probation Adult Probation & Parole Service Court Of Common Pleas Of Lancaster County. WEITZEL tried to first convince CATERBONE that his last Probation Meeting was scheduled for the day before, April 9, 2008 and that he had missed it, which she was not able to do, then refused to listen to CATERBONE’s problem and tried to refuse to take a copy of the PENNDOT letters. As Exhibit A&B.


6. CATERBONE on the same day of April 10, 2008, then searched the CLEARFIELD COUNTY Criminal Records and found no criminal violations for a Stanley J. Caterbone on any Court Records. There were no DUI charges or Court cases in the Commonwealth Court of Common Pleas pertaining to a Defendant with the name of CATERBONE. See Exhibit C.


7. CATERBONE then, on the same day of April 10, 2008, emailed Ms. Beverly J. Points (POINTS), Administrative Counsel-In-Charge of the Vehicle And Traffic Law Division of the Pennsylvania Department Of Transportation Office Of Chief Counsel alerting her with the problem and requesting that she correct the record. CATERBONE and POINTS are litigating Case No. CI-11822 in the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County, and have had a previous meeting in her office in Harrisburg regarding other misstatements of violations on CATERBONE’s Pennsylvania Drivers License. The agenda of the meeting, as detailed in communications, was to review CATERBONE’s entire drivers license. See Exhibit D.


8. On April 11th 2008, CATERBONE had a discussion with Bruce Campbell of the Office Of Standard Probation Adult Probation & Parole Service, Court Of Common Pleas Of Lancaster County and Program Director of the ARD Program of the Impaired Driving Program for the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas. Mr. Campbell told CATERBONE that there was nothing that he could do, that he had a problem and would have to appeal the suspension. See Exhibit D.


9. On April 11th 2008, CATERBONE received an email from POINTS that stated: “Mr. Caterbone – your driving record reflects the information you indicated regarding the DUI/ARD and revocation. If you wish to challenge the revocation, you will need to file an appeal with the court as directed in the notice. Alternatively, you may wish to follow up with the clerk of courts in Clearfield County to see if the matter can be resolved with that office if you are not the proper individual.” As Exhibit E.


10. On April 16, 2008 WEITZEL tried to persuade CATERBONE to sign a Terms and Conditions document for 3 months of UNSUPERVISED PROBATION for Case No. 159-2006, which CATERBONE had already completed the sentence on March 5, 2007. See Exhibit F.


11. On August 31, 2006 the Millersville Police Borough illegally revoked CATERBONE’S Pennsylvania Drivers License due to a Fraudulent Notice and Malicious Computer Database by PENNDOT that had CATERBONE’S Drivers License listed as SUSPENDED.


12. PENNDOT illegally and fraudulently kept CATERBONE’S drivers license until March of 2007 (7 Months), without a valid or authorized SUSPENSION.


13. During that time CATERBONE had two (2) Driving Under Suspension charges DISMISSED at the District Magistrate Level by MDJ Stoltzfus and MDJ Spounagle because the charges that were listed under the SUSPENSION were legally under appeal.


14. Pennsylvania House Representative Mike Sturla’s Office had to intervene in March to regain the Pennsylvania Drivers License and Privileges for CATERBONE.


15. On May 20, 2008 CATERBONE was illegally pulled over and detained by Pennsylvania State Trooper Andrew Manning of Troop J at a Turkey Hill Market on Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster, PA. Trooper Manning and another Unidentified Pennsylvania State Trooper confiscated CATERBONE’s Pennsylvania Drivers License and a draft copy of civil complaint case no. CI-08-08635. CATERBONE personally showed Trooper Manning that the correspondence clearly states the following: “The Court has informed PennDOT that you (CATERBONE) have been accepted into the Accelerative Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program for violating A3802A2 of the Vehicle Code on August 24, 2008. Since this the only driving under the influence offense on your Pennsylvania driver record during the past ten years, no suspension is being imposed at this time”


16. Trooper Andrew Manning and the other Pennsylvania State Trooper returned the Pennsylvania Drivers License to CATERBONE and told him he was free to go.


17. On May 27, 2008 CATERBONE received Citation No. Q0256446-1 in the mails from MDJ Commins, of 15, Geist Road, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, East Lampeter Township, with a charge of § 75 §1543 §§B1 Driving with a Revoked Drivers License pursuant to Sec 3731/1574 B1 DUI Related.


18. Trooper Andrew Manning failed to revoke CATERBONE’s Drivers License at the time of the detention, or notify CATERBONE that his Pennsylvania Drivers License was legally suspended.


19. On May 28, 2008 CATERBONE paid $50.00 in cash to the office of MDJ Commins for collateral and pleaded not guilty.


20. On May 28, 2008 while at the Office of MDJ Commins an East Lampeter Township Police Officer again tried to cite CATERBONE with § 75 §1543 §§B1 Driving with a Revoked Drivers License pursuant to Sec 3731/1574 B1 DUI Related. CATERBONE showed the East Lampeter Police Officer the correspondence from PENNDOT that states the following: “The Court has informed PennDOT that you (CATERBONE) have been accepted into the Accelerative Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program for violating A3802A2 of the Vehicle Code on August 24, 2008. Since this the only driving under the influence offense on your Pennsylvania driver record during the past ten years, no suspension is being imposed at this time”.


21. The East Lampeter Police Officer did not cite CATERBONE for any violations and concurred that he could not do so, and if he did, he would have to physically revoke the Pennsylvania Drivers License, unlike Trooper Andrew Manning of the Pennsylvania State Police.


22. On May 28, 2008 CATERBONE went and applied to the Lancaster County Bail Administration Office for a Public Defender and was granted eligibility for a public defender because if found guilty the sentence carries a mandatory 90 days in prison and a fine of $500.00.


CAUSES OF ACTION BY DEFENDANTS

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
BUREAU OF DRIVER LICENSING
Fraud; Abuse of Process, Libel, Civil Conspiracy, Barratry, Malicious Prosecution, Vexatious litigation


BEVERLY J. POINTS
ADMINISTRATIVE COUNSEL-IN-CHARGE
VEHICLE AND TRAFFIC LAW DIVISION
PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
OFFICE OF CHIEF COUNSEL
Fraud, Abuse of Process, Libel, Harassment, Civil Conspiracy, Vexatious litigation

ERICA C. WEITZEL
ADULT PROBATION OFFICER
And
OFFICE OF STANDARD PROBATION
ADULT PROBATION & PAROLE SERVICE
COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF LANCASTER COUNTY
Fraud, Abuse of Process, Libel, Slander, Harassment, Violation of Civil Rights, Civil Conspiracy

DAMAGES
Loss of reputation and credit, humiliation, and mental suffering. discomfort, injury to health, loss of time, and deprivation of society with family. Also, economic loss due to business and litigation interruption, legal fees and punitive damages.
Plaintiff seeks jury trial and damages in excess of $100,000.


JURISDICTION
Barratry, in criminal and civil law, is the act or practice of bringing repeated legal actions solely to harass. Usually, the actions brought lack merit. This action has been declared a crime in some jurisdictions. For example, in the U.S. states of California, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, barratry is a misdemeanor. [1] In England and Wales the offence was abolished in 1967.

Malicious prosecution is a common law intentional tort. While similar to the tort of abuse of process, its elements include (1) intentionally (and maliciously) instituting or pursuing (or causing to be instituted or pursued) a legal action (civil or criminal) that is (2) brought without probable cause and (3) dismissed in favor of the victim of the malicious prosecution. In some jurisdictions, "malicious prosecution" is reserved for the wrongful initiation of criminal proceedings, while "malicious use of process" refers to the wrongful initiation of civil proceedings.

Criminal prosecuting attorneys, as well as judges, are normally protected, by doctrines of prosecutorial immunity and judicial immunity, from tort liability for malicious prosecution.

The mere filing of a complaint cannot constitute an abuse of process. The parties who have abused or misused the process, have gone beyond the mere filing of a lawsuit. The taking of an appeal, even a frivolous one, is not enough to constitute an abuse of process. The mere filing or maintenance of a lawsuit, even for an improper purpose, is not a proper basis for an abuse of process action.
Abuse of process is a common law intentional tort. It is to be distinguished from malicious prosecution, another type of tort that involves misuse of the public right of access to the courts.

The elements of a valid cause of action for abuse of process in most common law jurisdictions are as follows: it is the malicious and deliberate misuse or perversion of regularly issued court process (civil or criminal) not justified by the underlying legal action. "Process" in this context is used in the same sense as in "service of process," where "process" refers to an official summons or other notice issued from a court. The person who abuses process is interested only in accomplishing some improper purpose that is collateral to the proper object of the process and that offends justice, such as an unjustified arrest or an unfounded criminal prosecution. Subpoenas to testify, attachments of property, executions on property, garnishments, and other provisional remedies are among the types of "process" considered to be capable of abuse.

Vexatious litigation is legal action which is brought, regardless of its merits, solely to harass or subdue an adversary. It may take the form of a primary frivolous lawsuit or may be the repetitive, burdensome, and unwarranted filing of meritless motions in a matter which is otherwise a meritorious cause of action. Filing vexatious litigation is considered an abuse of the judicial process and may bring down sanctions on the offender.
A single action, even a frivolous one, is not enough to raise a litigant to the level of being declared vexatious. Roy L. Pearson, Jr., an Administrative Law Judge in the District of Columbia, who sued a dry-cleaner for $54 million for allegedly losing a pair of his trousers, is sometimes claimed to be a vexatious litigant; however, he does not have a history of frivolous action like the parties normally considered vexatious.[citation needed

In criminal law, fraud is the crime or offense of deliberately deceiving another in order to damage them – usually, to obtain property or services unjustly. [1] Fraud can be accomplished through the aid of forged objects. In the criminal law of common law jurisdictions it may be called "theft by deception," "larceny by trick," "larceny by fraud and deception" or something similar.

Fraud can be committed through many methods, including mail, wire, phone, and the internet (computer crime and internet fraud).

Fraud, in addition to being a criminal act, is also a type of civil law violation known as a tort. A tort is a civil wrong for which the law provides a remedy. A civil fraud typically involves the act of intentionally making a false representation of a material fact, with the intent to deceive, which is reasonably relied upon by another person to that person's detriment. A "false representation" can take many forms, such as:

· A false statement of fact, known to be false at the time it was made;
· A statement of fact with no reasonable basis to make that statement;
· A promise of future performance made with an intent, at the time the promise was made, not to perform as promised;
· A statement of opinion based on a false statement of fact;
· A statement of opinion that the maker knows to be false; or

· An expression of opinion that is false, made by one claiming or implying to have special knowledge of the subject matter of the opinion. "Special knowledge" in this case means knowledge or information superior to that possessed by the other party, and to which the other party did not have equal access.

In law, defamation (also called vilification, slander, and libel) is the communication of a statement that makes a false claim, expressively stated or implied to be factual, that may harm the reputation of an individual, business, product, group, government or nation. Slander refers to spoken comments, while libel refers to any other form of communication such as written words or images. Most jurisdictions allow legal actions, civil and/or criminal, to deter various kinds of defamation and retaliate against groundless criticism. Related to defamation is public disclosure of private facts arises where one person reveals information which is not of public concern, and the release of which would offend a reasonable person.[1] "Unlike libel or slander, truth is not a defense for invasion of privacy."[2]

False light laws are "intended primarily to protect the plaintiff's mental or emotional well-being."[3] If a publication of information is false, then a tort of defamation might have occurred. If that communication is not technically false but is still misleading then a tort of false light might have occurred.[3]

Slander and libel
The common law origins of defamation lie in the torts of slander (harmful statement in a transitory form, especially speech) and libel[4][5] (harmful statement in a fixed medium, especially writing but also a picture, sign, or electronic broadcast), each of which gives a common law right of action.
"Defamation" is the general term used internationally, and is used in this article where it is not necessary to distinguish between "slander" and "libel". Libel and slander both require publication.[6] The fundamental distinction between libel and slander lies solely in the form in which the defamatory matter is published. If the offending material is published in some fleeting form, as by spoken words or sounds, sign language, gestures and the like, then this is slander. If it is published in more durable form, for example in written words, film, compact disc (CD), DVD, blogging and the like, then it is considered libel.

Criminal defamation
Many nations have criminal penalties for defamation in some situations, and different conditions for determining whether an offense has occurred. ARTICLE 19, Global Campaign for Free Expression, has published global maps [2] charting the existence of criminal defamation law across the globe. The law is used predominantly to defend political leaders or functionaries of the state. In Britain, the Italian anarchist Errico Malatesta was convicted of criminal libel for denouncing the Italian state agent Ennio Belelli in 1912. While, in Canada, though the law has been applied on only six occasions in the past century, all of those cases involve libellants attached to the state (police officers, judges, prison guards). In the most recent case, Bradley Waugh and Ravin Gill were charged with criminal libel for publicly accusing six prison guards of the racially motivated murder of a black inmate (http://netk.net.au/Canada/Canada15.asp. In Zimbabwe, "insulting the President" is, by statute, (Public Order and Security Act 2001) a criminal offense.

Defenses
Even if a statement is derogatory, there are circumstances in which such statements are permissible in law.

Truth
In many legal systems, adverse public statements about legal citizens presented as fact must be proven false to be defamatory or slanderous/libel. Proving adverse, public character statements to be true is often the best defense against a prosecution for libel and/or defamation. Statements of opinion that cannot be proven true or false will likely need to apply some other kind of defense. The use of the defense of justification has dangers, however; if the defendant libels the plaintiff and then runs the defense of truth and fails, he may be said to have aggravated the harm.
Another important aspect of defamation is the difference between fact and opinion. Statements made as "facts" are frequently actionable defamation. Statements of opinion or pure opinion are not actionable. In order to win damages in a libel case, the plaintiff must first show that the statements were "statements of fact or mixed statements of opinion and fact" and second that these statements were false. Conversely, a typical defense to defamation is that the statements are opinion. One of the major tests to distinguish whether a statement is fact or opinion is whether the statement can be proved true or false in a court of law. If the statement can be proved true or false, then, on that basis, the case will be heard by a jury to determine whether it is true or false. If the statement cannot be proved true or false, the court may dismiss the libel case without it ever going to a jury to find facts in the case.
In some systems, however, notably the Philippines, truth alone is not a defense.[7] Some U.S. statutes preserve historical common law exceptions to the defense of truth to libel actions. These exceptions were for statements "tending to blacken the memory of one who is dead" or "expose the natural defects of one who is alive." [8]
It is also necessary in these cases to show that there is a well-founded public interest in the specific information being widely known, and this may be the case even for public figures. Public interest is generally not "that which the public is interested in," but rather that which is in the interest of the public.[9] [10]

Privilege and malice
Privilege provides a complete bar and answer to a defamation suit, though conditions may have to be met before this protection is granted.
There are two types of privilege in the common law tradition:

· "Absolute privilege" has the effect that a statement cannot be sued on as defamatory, even if it were made maliciously; a typical example is evidence given in court (although this may give rise to different claims, such as an action for malicious prosecution or perjury) or statements made in a session of the legislature (known as 'Parliamentary privilege' in Commonwealth countries).

· "Qualified privilege" may be available to the journalist as a defense in circumstances where it is considered important that the facts be known in the public interest; an example would be public meetings, local government documents, and information relating to public bodies such as the police and fire departments. Qualified privilege has the same effect as absolute privilege, but does not protect statements that can be proven to have been made with malicious intent.

Other defenses
Defenses to claims of defamation include:

· Truth is an absolute defense in the United States as well as in the common law jurisdictions of Canada. In some other countries it is also necessary to show a benefit to the public good in having the information brought to light.

· Statements made in a good faith and reasonable belief that they were true are generally treated the same as true statements; however, the court may inquire into the reasonableness of the belief. The degree of care expected will vary with the nature of the defendant: an ordinary person might safely rely on a single newspaper report, while the newspaper would be expected to carefully check multiple sources.
· Privilege is a defense when witness testimony, attorneys' arguments, and judges' decisions, rulings, and statements made in court, or statements by legislators on the floor of the legislature, or statements made by a person to their spouse, are the cause for the claim. These statements are said to be privileged and cannot be cause for a defamation claim.

· Opinion is a defense recognized in nearly every jurisdiction. If the allegedly defamatory assertion is an expression of opinion rather than a statement of fact, defamation claims usually cannot be brought because opinions are inherently not falsifiable. However, some jurisdictions decline to recognize any legal distinction between fact and opinion. The United States Supreme Court, in particular, has ruled that the First Amendment does not require recognition of an opinion privilege.

· Fair comment on a matter of public interest, statements made with an honest belief in their truth on a matter of public interest (official acts) are defenses to a defamation claim, even if such arguments are logically unsound; if a reasonable person could honestly entertain such an opinion, the statement is protected.

· Consent is an uncommon defense and makes the claim that the claimant consented to the dissemination of the statement.

· Innocent dissemination is a defense available when a defendant had no actual knowledge of the defamatory statement or no reason to believe the statement was defamatory. The defense can be defeated if the lack of knowledge was due to negligence. Thus, a delivery service cannot be held liable for delivering a sealed defamatory letter.

· Claimant is incapable of further defamation–e.g., the claimant's position in the community is so poor that defamation could not do further damage to the plaintiff. Such a claimant could be said to be "libel-proof," since in most jurisdictions, actual damage is an essential element for a libel claim.
In addition to the above, the defendant may claim that the allegedly defamatory statement is not actually capable of being defamatory—an insulting statement that does not actually harm someone's reputation is prima facie not libelous.

Special rules apply in the case of statements made in the press concerning public figures. A series of court rulings led by New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964) established that for a public official (or other legitimate public figure) to win a libel case, the statement must have been published knowing it to be false or with reckless disregard to its truth, (also known as actual malice).

Under United States law, libel generally requires five key elements. The plaintiff must prove that the information was published, the plaintiff was directly or indirectly identified, the remarks were defamatory towards the plaintiff's reputation, the published information is false, and that the defendant is at fault.

The Associated Press estimates that 95% of libel cases involving news stories do not arise from high-profile news stories, but "run of the mill" local stories like news coverage of local criminal investigations or trials, or business profiles. Media liability insurance is available to newspapers to cover potential damage awards from libel lawsuits.

Defamation and freedom of speech
Defamation laws may come into tension with freedom of speech, leading to censorship or chilling effects where publishers fear lawsuits, or loss of reputation where individuals have no effective protection against reckless or unfounded allegations. Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights permits restrictions on freedom of speech which are necessary for the protection of the reputation or the rights of others[11].

Jurisdictions resolve this tension in different ways, in particular in determining where the burden of proof lies when unfounded allegations are made. The power of the internet to disseminate comment, which may include malicious comment, has brought a new focus to the issue. [12]

There is a broader consensus against laws which criminalize defamation. Human rights organizations, and other organizations such as the Council of Europe and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, have campaigned against strict defamation laws which criminalize defamation.[13][14] The European Court of Human Rights has placed restrictions on criminal libel laws because of the freedom of expression provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights. One notable case was Lingens v. Austria (1986).

United States
The origins of US defamation law pre-date the American Revolution; one famous 1734 case involving John Peter Zenger established some precedent that the truth should be an absolute defense against libel charges. (Previous English defamation law had not provided this guarantee.) Though the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was designed to protect freedom of the press, for most of the history of the United States, the Supreme Court neglected to use it to rule on libel cases. This left libel laws, based upon the traditional common law of defamation inherited from the English legal system, mixed across the states. The 1964 case New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, however, dramatically changed the nature of libel law in the United States by establishing that public officials could win a suit for libel only if they could demonstrate publishers' "knowledge that the information was false" or that it was published "with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not". Later Supreme Court cases dismissed the claim for libel and forbade libel claims for statements that are so ridiculous to be clearly not true, or are involving opinionated subjects such as one's physical state of being. Recent cases have addressed defamation law and the internet.

Defamation law in the United States is much less plaintiff-friendly than its counterparts in European and the Commonwealth countries, due to the enforcement of the First Amendment. In the United States, a comprehensive discussion of what is and is not libel or slander is difficult, because the definition differs between different states, and under federal law. Some states codify what constitutes slander and libel together into the same set of laws. Criminal libel is rare or nonexistent, depending on the state. Defenses to libel that can result in dismissal before trial include the statement being one of opinion rather than fact or being "fair comment and criticism". Truth is always a defense.

Most states recognize that some categories of statements are considered to be defamatory per se, such that people making a defamation claim for these statements do not need to prove that the statement was defamatory.

An action for damages brought by one against whom a civil suit or criminal proceeding has been unsuccessfully commenced without probable cause and for a purpose other than that of bringing the alleged offender to justice.

An action for malicious prosecution is the remedy for baseless and malicious litigation. It is not limited to criminal prosecutions, but may be brought in response to any baseless and malicious litigation or prosecution, whether criminal or civil. The criminal defendant or civil respondent in a baseless and malicious case may later file this claim in civil court against the parties who took an active role in initiating or encouraging the original case. The defendant in the initial case becomes the plaintiff in the malicious prosecution suit, and the plaintiff or prosecutor in the original case becomes the defendant. In most states the claim must be filed within a year after the end of the original case.

A claim of malicious prosecution is atort action. A tort action is filed in civil court to recover money damages for certain harm suffered. The plaintiff in a malicious prosecution suit seeks to win money from the respondent as recompense for the various costs associated with having to defend against the baseless and vexatious case.

The public policy that supports the action for malicious prosecution is the discouragement of vexatious litigation. This policy must compete against one that favors the freedom of law enforcement officers, judicial officers, and private citizens to participate and assist in the administration of justice.

In most jurisdictions an action for malicious prosecution is governed by the common law. This means that the authority to bring the action lies in case law from the courts, not statutes from the legislature. Most legislatures maintain some statutes that give certain persons immunity from malicious prosecution for certain acts. In Colorado, for example, a merchant, a merchant's employee, or a police officer, who reasonably suspects that a theft has occurred, may detain and question the suspect without fear of liability for slander, false arrest, false imprisonment, unlawful detention, or malicious prosecution (Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18-4-407 [West 1996]).

An action for malicious prosecution is distinct from an action for false arrest or false imprisonment. If a person is arrested by a police officer who lacks legal authority for the arrest, the proper remedy is an action for false arrest. If a person is confined against her or his will, the proper remedy is an action for false imprisonment. An action for malicious prosecution is appropriate only where the judicial system has been misused.

Elements of Proof
To win a suit for malicious prosecution, the plaintiff must prove four elements: (1) that the original case was terminated in favor of the plaintiff, (2) that the defendant played an active role in the original case, (3) that the defendant did not have probable cause or reasonable grounds to support the original case, and (4) that the defendant initiated or continued the initial case with an improper purpose. Each of these elements presents a challenge to the plaintiff.

The Original Case Was Terminated in Favor of the Plaintiff
The original case must end before the defendant or respondent in that case may file a malicious prosecution suit. This requirement is relatively easy to prove. The original case qualifies as a prosecution if the defendant or respondent had to appear in court. The original case need not have gone to trial: it is enough that the defendant or respondent was forced to answer to a complaint in court. If the original case is being appealed, it is not considered terminated, and the defendant or respondent must wait to file a malicious prosecution suit.

To proceed with a malicious prosecution claim, the plaintiff must show that the original case was concluded in her or his favor. Generally, if the original case was a criminal prosecution, it must have been dismissed by the court, rejected by the grand jury, abandoned by the prosecutor, or decided in favor of the accused at trial or on appeal. If the original case was a civil suit, the respondent must have won at trial, or the trial court must have disposed of the case in favor of the respondent (now the plaintiff).

If recovery by the plaintiff in a civil action was later reversed on appeal, this does not mean that the action was terminated in favor of the respondent. However, if the plaintiff in the original case won by submitting fabricated evidence or by other fraudulent activity, a reversal on such grounds may be deemed a termination in favor of the respondent. A settlement between the plaintiff and the respondent in a civil suit is not a termination in favor of the respondent. Likewise, courts do not consider a plea bargain in a criminal case to be a termination in favor of the defendant.

The Defendant Played an Active Role in the Original Case
In a malicious prosecution suit, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant played an active role in procuring or continuing the original case. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant did more than simply participate in the original case. False testimony alone, for example, does not constitute malicious prosecution. Moreover, witnesses are immune from suit for defamation, even if they lie on the witness stand. This is because the concept of a fair and free trial requires that witnesses testify without fear of having to defend a defamation suit owing to their testimony.
An action for malicious prosecution focuses on the abuse of legal process, not on defamatory, untruthful statements. If a person helps another person launch a baseless case or takes action to direct or aid such a case, the first person may be held liable for malicious prosecution. The defendant must have been responsible in some way for the institution or continuation of the baseless case. This position of responsibility does not always include criminal prosecutors and civil plaintiffs. For example, if a prosecutor bringing criminal charges is tricked into prosecuting the case by an untruthful third party, the deceiving party is the one who may be found liable for malicious prosecution, not the prosecutor.

The Defendant Did Not Have Probable Cause to Support the Original Case
The plaintiff must prove that the person who began or continued the original case did not have probable cause to do so. Generally, this means proving that the person did not have a reasonable belief in the plaintiff's guilt or liability. In examining this element, a court will look at several factors, including the reliability of any sources, the availability of information, the effort required to obtain information, opportunities given to the accused to offer an explanation, the accused's reputation, and the necessity in the original case for speedy judicial action.

A failure to fully investigate the facts surrounding a case may be sufficient to prove a lack of probable cause. The termination of the original case in favor of the original defendant (now the plaintiff) may help to prove a lack of probable cause, but it may not be decisive on the issue. The plaintiff should present enough facts to allow a reasonable person to infer that the defendant acted without a reasonable belief in the plaintiff's guilt or liability in beginning or continuing the original case.

In a criminal case, an acquittal does not constitute a lack of probable cause. A criminal defendant stands a better chance of proving lack of probable cause if the original case was dismissed by prosecutors, a grand jury, or the court before the case went to trial. The criminal process provides several safeguards against prosecutions that lack probable cause, so a full criminal trial tends to show the presence of probable cause. Civil cases do not have the same safeguards, so a full civil trial does not tend to prove probable cause.

The Defendant Initiated or Continued the Original Case with an Improper Purpose
In a malicious prosecution, the plaintiff must prove with specific facts that the defendant instituted or continued the original proceeding with an improper purpose. Sheer ill will constitutes an improper purpose, and it may be proved with facts that show that the defendant resented the plaintiff or wanted somehow to harm the plaintiff. However, the plaintiff does not have to prove that the defendant felt personal malice or hostility toward the plaintiff. Rather, the plaintiff need only show that the defendant was motivated by something other than the purpose of bringing the plaintiff to justice.

Few defendants admit to improper purposes, so improper purpose usually must be inferred from facts and circumstances. If the plaintiff cannot discover any apparent purpose, improper purpose can be inferred from the lack of probable cause.
Hodges v. Gibson Products Co.

Hodges v. Gibson Products Co., 811 P.2d 151 (Utah 1991), contained all the elements of a malicious prosecution. According to Chad Crosgrove, the manager of Gibson Discount Center in West Valley, Utah, store money was noticed missing during the afternoon of September 4, 1981. Both Crosgrove and part-time bookkeeper Shauna Hodges had access to the money, and both denied taking it. On September 9 Crosgrove and Gibson officials went to the local police station, where they lodged an accusation of theft against Hodges. Crosgrove was not accused. Hodges was arrested, handcuffed, and taken to jail. After a preliminary hearing, she was released on bail and ordered to return for trial on May 12, 1982.
After Hodges was formally charged, an internal audit at Gibson revealed that Crosgrove had embezzled approximately $9,000 in cash and goods from the store. The thefts had occurred over a time period that included September 4, 1981. Gibson still did not charge Crosgrove with theft. Instead, it allowed him to resign with a promise to repay the money.

The night before Hodges's trial was to begin, and almost two months after Crosgrove's embezzlement was discovered, management at Gibson notified Hodges's prosecutor of Crosgrove's activities. The prosecutor immediately dropped the charges against Hodges. Hodges then filed a suit for malicious prosecution against Gibson and against Crosgrove.

At trial Hodges was able to prove all the elements of malicious prosecution to the jury's satisfaction: (1) She had been subjected to prosecution for theft, and the matter had been terminated in her favor. (2) She had sued the correct parties, because Gibson and Crosgrove were responsible for instituting the original proceedings against her. (3) She had ample evidence that the original prosecution was instituted without probable cause, because Gibson failed to investigate Crosgrove until after she had been arrested, and because the prosecutor dismissed the charges against her. (4) Finally, there were enough facts for the jury to infer that both Gibson and Crosgrove had acted with improper motive: Gibson had acted with an apparent bias against Hodges, and Crosgrove apparently had accused Hodges for self-preservation. The jury awarded Hodges a total of $88,000 in damages: $77,000 from Gibson, and $11,000 from Crosgrove. The verdict was upheld on appeal.

Damages
The plaintiff in an action for malicious prosecution can recover money from the defendant for certain harms suffered. Typical injuries include loss of reputation and credit, humiliation, and mental suffering. If the original action was a criminal case, additional harms often include discomfort, injury to health, loss of time, and deprivation of society with family.

If the plaintiff suffered an economic loss directly related to the original action, the plaintiff can also recover the amount lost. This includes attorneys' fees and court costs incurred by the plaintiff in defending the original case.

Finally, the plaintiff may recover punitive damages. Punitive damages are imposed by judges and juries to punish misconduct by a party. Because an action for malicious prosecution requires proof of improper intent on the part of the defendant, punitive damages commonly are awarded to malicious prosecution plaintiffs who win damages awards.

Other Considerations
Actions for malicious prosecution must compete against the public interest in allowing parties to pursue cases unfettered by the specter of a retaliatory case. Very few civil or criminal cases result in an action for malicious prosecution. This is because it is difficult to prove that the defendant procured or continued the original case without probable cause and with an improper purpose.
Another difficulty for the plaintiff in an action for malicious prosecution is immunity. Generally, the law protects witnesses, police officers, judges, prosecutors, and lawyers from suit for malicious prosecution. Witnesses are given immunity because justice requires that they testify without fear of reprisals. Law enforcement and judicial officers are given immunity because they must be free to perform their duties without continually defending against malicious prosecution cases.

There are exceptions. If a law enforcement or judicial official ventures outside the bounds of official duties to instigate or continue a malicious prosecution, the official may be vulnerable to a malicious prosecution suit. For example, a prosecutor who solicits fabricated testimony to present to a grand jury may be sued for malicious prosecution. The prosecutor would receive only limited immunity in this instance because the solicitation of evidence is an administrative function, not a prosecutorial function (Buckley v. Fitzsimmons, 509 U.S. 259, 113 S. Ct. 2606, 125 L. Ed. 2d 209 [1993]).

Private parties may also at times enjoy immunity from actions for malicious prosecution. For example, a person who complains to a disciplinary committee about an attorney may be immune. This general rule is followed by courts to avoid discouraging the reporting of complaints against attorneys.

Malicious prosecution is a common law intentional tort. While similar to the tort of abuse of process, its elements include (1) intentionally (and maliciously) instituting or pursuing (or causing to be instituted or pursued) a legal action (civil or criminal) that is (2) brought without probable cause and (3) dismissed in favor of the victim of the malicious prosecution. In some jurisdictions, "malicious prosecution" is reserved for the wrongful initiation of criminal proceedings, while "malicious use of process" refers to the wrongful initiation of civil proceedings.
Criminal prosecuting attorneys, as well as judges, are normally protected, by doctrines of prosecutorial immunity and judicial immunity, from tort liability for malicious prosecution.

The mere filing of a complaint cannot constitute an abuse of process. The parties who have abused or misused the process, have gone beyond the mere filing of a lawsuit. The taking of an appeal, even a frivolous one, is not enough to constitute an abuse of process. The mere filing or maintenance of a lawsuit, even for an improper purpose, is not a proper basis for an abuse of process action.
Declining to expand the tort of malicious prosecution, a unanimous Supreme Court in Sheldon Appel, supra, 47 Cal.3d at page 873, observed: "While the filing of frivolous lawsuits is certainly improper and cannot in any way be condoned, in our view the better means of addressing the problem of unjustified litigation is through the adoption of measures facilitating the speedy resolution of the initial lawsuit and authorizing the imposition of sanctions for frivolous or delaying conduct within that first action itself, rather than through an expansion of the opportunities for initiating one or more additional rounds of malicious prosecution litigation after the first action has been concluded." (Accord Lossing v. Superior Court (1989) 207 Cal.App.3d 635, 638-640[255 Cal.Rptr. 18]; see also Tellefsen v. Key System Transit Lines, supra, 198 Cal.App.2d at p. 615 [Court of Appeal has remedies for frivolous appeals]; Green v. Uccelli (1989) 207 Cal.App.3d 1112, 1122-1123 [255 Cal.Rptr. 315]

English Rule

Sixteen states require another element of malicious prosecution. This element, commonly called the English Rule, states that, in addition to fulfilling all other malicious prosecution elements, one must also prove injury other than the normal downside of being sued. This rule is limited to equitable damages, such as loss of profit, and excludes damages that cannot be measured by the law (e.g., damage to reputation).


Date: June 6, 2008

Stanley J. Caterbone, Pro Se

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