Lawsuit Filed Against Famous Author

Friday, September 28th 2007, 9:37 am
By: News On 6

A famous author is being sued by some Oklahomans. John Grisham and several other co-defendants are named in a federal defamation lawsuit filed in Muskogee Friday morning. News On 6 anchor Craig Day reports they’re accused of conspiracy and libel in connection with books written about a wrongful conviction in Oklahoma.

A year ago, John Grisham came out with a non-fiction book called "The Innocent Man." The book was about a murder conviction in Oklahoma that was later overturned. Now, two of the main players in the investigation are suing Grisham, publishers and authors of two other books on the case.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, claims John Grisham, two other authors, their publishers and a death penalty opponent engaged in a deliberate defamatory attack. The federal lawsuit stems from books, including one by Grisham, written about the 1982 murder of Debbie Sue Carter in Ada. Attorney Gary Richardson believes it was unfairly critical of those investigating the case.

"In doing so, unbelievable maligned Bill Peterson, the D.A. of three counties in Oklahoma as well as Gary Rogers, very well known, former OSBI investigator for years, real men of integrity," attorney Gary Richardson said.

The two men originally convicted of Carter's murder, Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz, were later exonerated by DNA evidence and freed after 12 years in prison. Their experiences are chronicled in two books, Fritz's "Journey Toward Justice" and John Grisham's first non-fiction book, "The Innocent Man."

"We think that somewhere along the line he must have forgotten that he was writing a non-fiction book and kind of slipped back into the mold of a non-fiction book. It's that bad," said Richardson.

The lawsuit claims the defendants launched a massive defamatory attack on the plaintiffs, through libel and slander, exposing them to public hatred, contempt and ridicule.

"It's the situation of two men, and their careers being severely impacted for the balance of their life," said Gary Richardson.

So what about the conspiracy allegations in the lawsuit filed in federal court in Muskogee? Richardson claims there was a conspiracy involving the defendants motivated in part by a desire to abolish the death penalty.

The lawsuit, seeks damages of more than $75,000.

"We think it is time for some justice to prevail for some good Oklahoma citizens," attorney Gary Richardson said.

It's expected to be a few months before John Grisham and the other co-defendants must answer to the lawsuit.

Death penalty opponent Barry Scheck is also named in the case. He's the head of the Innocence Project which helps clear death row inmates through DNA testing.

Watch the video: Oklahomans Sue Famous Author

Related Story:

10/12/2006 Books Chronicle Oklahomans' Wrongful Arrest, Conviction