On December 2, 2022, the ACLU of New Hampshire -- along with the New England First Amendment Coalition, Union Leader Corporation, and the Caledonian Record Publication Co., Inc. -- sought leave to file a "friend of the court" brief in this case arguing that Plaintiff Eric Spofford's defamation complaint against New Hampshire Public Radio and its sources arising out of a March 22, 2022 story should be dismissed because the complaint fails to plead facts sufficient to meet the standard of "actual malice." This standard is mandated by the First Amendment and Part I, Article 22 of the New Hampshire Constitution.
As explained in the proposed brief, if this case is allowed to proceed with such conclusory allegations of malice, not only will journalists’ vital reporting be chilled, but sources who may have been the victims of sexual or other misconduct by people in power also will be less likely to go on the record and describe their experiences out of a fear of litigation. What is the consequence of this chill? A less informed public and a lack of accountability for those with power.
On January 26, 2023, the Court allowed the filing of this amicus brief.