Tennessee state prosecutors can be sued for defamation

Published 9:52 am Monday, December 2, 2019

KNOXVILLE (AP) — The Tennessee Court of Appeals has ruled that state prosecutors can be sued for defamation.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports the court ruled this week that state prosecutors don’t enjoy the same immunity as policymakers, who are protected from defamation lawsuits even if guilty. The ruling comes as part of a defamation lawsuit against Hamilton County District Attorney General Neal Pinkston, who accused Gatlinburg police Detective Rodney Burns of perjury.

Burns handled a hazing case in which several high school basketball players were raped with a pool cue. His testimony characterized the abuse as “something stupid kids do” and said the kids drew no sexual gratification from it, but he filed rape charges per the legal definition of rape. His testimony outraged Pinkston, who then sought a perjury indictment.

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