U.S. District Court Judge Phillip Figa has dismissed the libel lawsuit filed by John and Patsy Ramsey against Fox News and reporter Carol McKinley.
In a written order that quoted Shakespeare, Figa wrote about the importance of upholding the constitutionally protected right to free speech. “Plaintiffs may well have filed this case more for vindication than for money, and perhaps vindication is what they deserve,” Figa wrote.
“But they have a better chance for meaningful vindication in the court of public opinion through vigorous debate about the background and details of this heinous crime than by suing those whose reporting may arguably include some less than favorable references about them,” the order said.
The lawsuit involved a segment on Fox News in December, 2002 in which Carol McKinley said there was no evidence an intruder was in the home, and that the only people in the residence that night were John, Patsy, and son Burke. The Ramseys said the show made it seem as if Burke was a possible suspect. The Judge disagreed:
“Taking the broadcast as a whole, it did not hold up any member of the Ramsey family to public contempt or ridicule or accuse any of them of participating in the murder (of) their youngest family member.”