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Tuesday, July 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Massachusetts Lawmaker Fights Hometown Paper

WOBURN, Mass. - A state lawmaker claims his hometown newspaper, the Everett Advocate, has "an agenda to destroy" him. State Rep. Stephen Smith, who also is on the Everett school board, says the Advocate defamed him in more than a dozen stories in the past year, accusing him of violent behavior and public drunkenness, and of making verbal attacks on firefighters and the mayor of Everett.

In a story published about a Sept. 11 memorial service, under the headline "About Heroes," Smith says the paper falsely reported that made an "offensive verbal attack on firefighters" and wrongfully quoted him as saying, "All you **** guys think you're **** heroes after 9/11!!!"

Smith says another story accused him of evicting a family from a building Smith owns because the father announced his candidacy for an at-large position on the Everett School Committee.

Smith says that story alleged that he evicted Michael Phillips and his family due to a fear of competition on the School Committee. Smith says he evicted him because Phillips was more than 6 months behind in his rent.

Smith, a Democrat, says the Advocate repeatedly failed to check the facts. In July 2009, it reported, "One pol. spotted him [Smith] one day leaving The Derby seemingly staggering across the street where he was heading to his domicile on Clarence St."

Smith claims that a person or people have "fed fabricated materials to the Everett Advocate for political gain," and that "Smith has never been contacted to confirm the veracity of this reporting nor has any credible source or percipient witness been contacted."

Smith says a defamatory story in November claimed, "Smith verbally attacked Mayor Carlo DeMaria over a public school landscaping project" and "had to be restrained by his entourage."

Smith says that did he not have to be restrained, during a conversation he characterized as "entirely civil."

Smith sued the newspaper, its publisher, James David Mitchell, and John Doe reporters. He seeks damages for defamation, libel and negligent infliction of emotional distress. He also demands retractions, on the front page.

Smith is represented by David Rich with Todd & Weld of Boston.

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