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NCJ Number: 153650 Find in a Library
Title: Defamation in the Classroom: A Case for Contemplation
Journal: Journal of Criminal Justice Education  Volume:5  Issue:2  Dated:(Fall 1994)  Pages:257-263
Author(s): V E Kappeler; R D Sluder
Date Published: 1994
Page Count: 7
Type: Legislation/Policy Description
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This note examines defamatory comments made verbally by professors in the classroom, focusing on an incident that illustrates, by any standard, what can be viewed only as outrageous classroom conduct.
Abstract: Smith v. Atkins (1993) is a State civil case in which Theresa Smith, a student at Southern University Law School in Louisiana, brought a defamation action against one of her professors. In the lawsuit, Smith alleged that on two separate occasions in class, Professor Curklin Atkins called her a "slut." The trial court found Professor Atkins liable for his defamatory utterances, but failed to find an intentional infliction of emotional distress. Awarding Smith $1,500 and costs, the court found complete lack of proof that she had suffered "damage to reputation or loss of esteem of her fellow students." In this case, the court concluded that calling a woman a "slut" is defamatory per se, and thus subjects a student to public condemnation and disgrace. This article also identifies other comments that also may be characterized as per se defamatory statements. The authors advise that faculty members must use common sense and good judgment in classroom communications. Morally, ethically, and legally they are obligated to avoid using derogatory terms when interacting with students. 9 references
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Civil liability; Courts; Educators
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