ShareThis Page
DeWeese complaint |

DeWeese complaint

Matthew Junker
| Friday, June 27, 2003 12:00 a.m

State House Minority Leader H. William DeWeese filed a more specific complaint against a Uniontown newspaper Thursday in a lawsuit stating the paper purposely and repeatedly defamed his character.

The Waynesburg Democrat sued the Uniontown Herald-Standard in November, claiming the paper’s repeated publication of claims he had broken a promise to open state House leadership accounts to public inspection were false and had injured his reputation.

DeWeese initially asked for $10 million in damages against the Herald-Standard; its owner, Calkins Media Inc.; Editor Michael Ellis, and five John Does to be named later.

But Fayette County Judge Steve P. Leskinen suppressed the monetary demand and ordered DeWeese’s attorney to file a more specific complaint.

The revamped complaint quotes extensively from an interview the legislator had with the Herald-Standard’s editorial board.

According to DeWeese, the newspaper’s staff purposely misstated his words when they wrote editorial captions to accompany a cartoon of DeWeese that was published for nearly a year in 2001.

The suit states that DeWeese did not promise to release details of the $12 million House leadership account, which is not a public record under state law. The captions under the cartoon suggested that DeWeese did promise to release the details.

DeWeese hired noted Philadelphia attorney Richard Sprague, who has extensive experience with libel and defamation cases involving public figures — including himself.

The former Philadelphia district attorney won a then-record libel judgment of $34 million against the Philadelphia Inquirer as a result of a series of 1973 stories that suggested he took part in a conspiracy to prevent a friend’s son from being charged in a homicide. That suit has since been settled under confidential terms.

Categories: News
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.