My question involves defamation in the state of: Florida
If you take advantage of your elected office to obtain a confidential police report to attack a private citizen critic, can you later, after being sued, claim it is pubic record?
Ultimately it is public record, but the elected sa never would have known about it except for use of NCIC or using other resources of his office. Can someone convert government records to private use and claim public record?
A private citizen writes a letter to the editor about why the state attorney should not be re-elected, outlining three performance issues. The state attorney uses NCIC, which is only for legit law enforcement purposes, to run a background check on the letter writer and comes up with a bogus sex charge which was a civil infraction. It is a police report 26 years old. The citizen was never found guilty on the merits, but only because he would not submit a report the city judge wanted that the judge had no authority to require. The state attorney writes a letter to the paper which is published accusing this person of being a twice convicted homosexual child molester. The report only involved one person and absolutely nothing in it constitutes ANY offense whatsoever.
The former now sa would never have known about the police report without using the resources of his office and he wrote the letter on state time, etc. He attacked a private citizen critic.
Now being sued, he comes up with the original police report and says it is public record.
The question is, is it really public record when he abused his position (actually criminal acts) to learn about it in the first place?
The police report is inadmissible as it is hearsay under Florida rules of evidence.
The sa took a civil infraction, which is not a crime, and turned it into what sounds like a horrible major crime in his letter. It is libel regardless, but there are other issues.
The police report though is actually favorable to the plaintiff, in comparison to what was written, but it is embarrassing and prejudical. There is a federal appeals court opinion listing this person's criminal record and there is no sexual offense at all.
So what would be better, letting it in or keeping it out. If it was excluded it would be better and the federal opinion would prove there was no such offense. It was not a crime.
In fact, how could either side admit it if it is hearsay? Could anyone come up with the police officers after 28 years and have them testify about something someone else told them 28 years ago? Would that be even admissible? That seems to be the only way to get it admitted.