Attorney Says Tucson Weekly Defamed Him

TUCSON (CN) – A criminal defense attorney says the Tucson Weekly defamed him in an article in which a jailed former client and her new lawyer accuse him of botching a fraud case and overcharging the government.

     Andrew Diodati sued the news weekly, its publisher, a staff writer and the mother of his former client in Pima County Court.
     Diodati says that the July 2 article, “Orgy of Excess,” spurred investigations by Pima County and the State Bar of Arizona, and that his “reputation has been severely damaged.”
     In the article, Diodati’s former client Maryanne Chisholm and her new lawyer, Brick Storts, accuse Diodati of bungling her defense in a $24 million investment fraud case and charging taxpayers more than $800,000 in doing so.
     In his complaint, Diodati says he defended Chisholm for 6 years, from 2001 to 2007. The first sentence in the Tucson Weekly story says: “The Pima County Office of Court Appointed Counsel – in other words, you, the taxpayer – paid more than $800,000 to unsuccessfully defend Maryanne Chisholm against fraud charges.”
     Diodati says the article “makes innuendo and accusatory claims alleging that Diodati has defrauded the County of Pima on the purchase of software and excessive paralegal services.”
     He says the article is still available on the Tucson Weekly’s Web site, with a comment section, where Chisholm’s mother, Jane Allen, also made defamatory statements.
     Chisholm was convicted in 2005 and sentenced to 27 years in prison.
     In his complaint, Diodati says Storts was attempting to attract attention, “presumably to get another bite-at-the-apple on yet another appeal.”
     He claims the newspaper hurried the article to press without checking facts, “in a reckless disregard for the truth.”
     Diodati demands $2.75 million in damages, and costs. He is represented by Richard Luff.

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