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Saturday, June 15, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Judge’s Personal Tabloid War Comes to an End

MANHATTAN (CN) - Litigation has proved futile in the campaign against a pair of bygone New York Daily News editorials that suggest Kings County Supreme Court Justice Larry Martin was corrupt.

The popular New York tabloid's columnist Errol Louis cast Martin in a harsh light seven years ago with the Jan. 28, 2007, editorial "Corruption" and its Feb. 8 followup, "Weed out the bad judges."

"The complicated world of judicial corruption in Brooklyn - a snake pit filled with bribery and back-room political deals - is about to be blown wide open by a longtime insider who has decided to start talking publicly about what he knows," the first editorial began.

The columns went on to repeat startling accusations against the judge by that "insider," Ravi Batra.

Saying that these articles falsely accuse him of presiding over a $20 million real estate litigation over which he had a conflict of interest, Martin filed a defamation suit the next year against the Daily News, Louis and Batra.

In March 2010, a Daily News content-management system switch caused the articles to get accidentally deleted.

Martin sued again in 2011 in light of the subsequent restoration of the articles.

Martin's first lawsuit fell apart because he was unable to prove actual malice.

The second was dismissed because restoring the article did not constitute separate publication.

Nevertheless, the case did provide Justice Martin with some vindication.

Over the course of discovery, Louis acknowledged that it was "inaccurate to say that Justice Martin was the judge hearing the multimillion dollar case," according to a July 17, 2014 appellate ruling in the case.

But the Appellate Division's First Judicial Department refused to revive the case this past July and declined to let Martin appeal Thursday.

The ruling had said slammed Louis, the editorial writer, for "careless reporting" but said his wrong conclusions were "not entirely unreasonable."

Now that Martin's case has concluded, Louis thanked his bosses and attorneys.

"I am very grateful to the editors at the Daily News, especially Arthur Browne, for standing behind my work and defending the paper's First Amendment rights," Louis said in an email. "I am also very thankful for the hard work performed by the paper's outside counsel at Davis Wright Tremaine, especially the brilliant attorney Laura Handman, who was tireless and tenacious in defeating this meritless claim."

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