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Papers Didn’t Defame Inmate, Court Rules

(CN) - Two New York-area newspapers didn't defame an inmate by reporting that he planned to cooperate with prosecutors, the 2nd Circuit ruled.

The Manhattan-based federal appeals court upheld the dismissal of Shemtov Michtavi's defamation claim against the New York Daily News and the Polish Daily News.

Michtavi is serving 20 years in prison for drug offenses. In March 2006, the papers referred to him as a "key lieutenant" of mob figure Ze'ev Rosenstein and reported that Michtavi planned to testify against Rosenstein.

Michtavi failed to convince the courts that the publications shamed him.

"Under New York law, a statement is defamatory only if it would expose an individual to shame 'in the minds of right-thinking persons,'" Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs wrote.

And because right-thinking people wouldn't "think ill" of someone who cooperates with police, he added, the defendants' reports weren't defamatory.

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