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Wrongly accused man cannot sue investigating officer for defamation

In Pernell v. City of East Lansing, the Court of Appeals held that the plaintiff could not sue anyone for defamation after he was charged, but not prosecuted, for domestic violence.  The officers had checked a box on the Amber Alert form suggesting that a missing child was in the company of Pernell, who manifested "an intent to harm the child or who has a confirmed criminal history of harming children, sexual assault, domestic violence or suicide."  In fact, none of these facts was true, however, the Court deemed the form inadequate and the officers no legally responsible for the false accusation.  The Court ruled that a prior complaint of domestic violence, though unproven, was "close enough" to a "confirmed criminal history..."

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