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January 05, 2005


A website publishes a photo of a judge on the Ninth Circuit with his arm around a couple of women, and this caption: "Ninth Circuit judge proves that you're never too old to be a pimp."

According to yesterday's 2-1 decision of the Ninth Circuit, no reasonable person could think that this statement was meant literally to accuse the judge of a crime, and therefore, as a matter of law, it is not defamatory.

OK, now substitute "Evel Knievel" for "Ninth Circuit judge" and make a few other lawyerly distinctions, and you have the real case. Somehow, I suspect the judges might not have reached the outcome they reached if the statement actually had been made about them.

The San Francisco Chronicle has a summary of the case.