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Phoenix Newspapers, Inc. v. Choisser

Supreme Court of Arizona

May 31, 1957

PHOENIX NEWSPAPERS, Inc., a corporation, Appellant,
v.
Jack CHOISSER, K. S. Brown, Doug Carr, J. R. Day, Jacob Klein, W. P. Lemon and John Metheany, each individually, Appellees.

Page 151

[82 Ariz. 273] Gust, Rosenfeld, Divelbess, & Robinette, Phoenix, for appellant.

Struckmeyer, Whitney & Perry, Phoenix, for appellees.

MURRY, Superior Judge.

This is an appeal from a judgment for damages, actual and punitive, in favor of appellees and against appellant aggregating $154,000, and from an order denying appellant's motion for judgment n.o.v. and its motion for a new trial. Appellant will be hereinafter referred to as defendant and appellees as plaintiffs.

The judgment from which the appeal is prosecuted is based upon the publication of an alleged libelous article appearing November 5, 1953, in the Arizona Republic, a daily newspaper owned and published by defendant.

On the previous evening an open forum type meeting was held by the Phoenix Junior Chamber of Commerce. All candidates for mayor and councilmen of the City of Phoenix for the 1953 city elecion were invited. The plaintiffs herein were running on the 'Economy Ticket' opposed to what was termed the 'Charter Government'

Page 152

ticket. Present at the meeting were also two candidates running as independents. The article appeared on page one of the Arizona Republic and in so far as here material read as follows:

'Economy-Vice Tieup Denied

Candidates Clash at Forum

'By Jack Karie

'Opposing candidates in the forthcoming city election collided head-on last night over the issue of prostitution and gambling.

'Charter Government candidates, seeking to retain the present city administration in office, declared they feared relaxation of present controls on vice within the city if members of the Economy Ticket gained power Nov. 10.

K. S. Brown of the Economy ticket heatedly denied any such danger exists and demanded an apology from Adam Diaz. He failed to get one.

'The Exchange was one of many as the Phoenix Junior Chamber of Commerce played host to the opposing tickets and two independents in a forum designed to define the issues in the heated campaign.

'Present were Mayor Candidate Frank G. Murphy and other Charter aspirants for city council. John F. Sullivan, Margaret B. Kober, Newton [82 Ariz. 274] Rosenzweig, Clarence H. Shivvers, Wesley Johnson, and Diaz.

'Jack Choisser, mayor candidate for the Economy Ticket, was backed by council hopefuls, Doug Carr, Jack Klein, John A. Metheany, and Brown.

'Independents present were Thomas E. Bruns and Peter Forskin.

'Diaz set off the fireworks when he said, 'I've heard that Economy Ticket candidates have promised the city will be opened up to prostitutes and gambling if they were elected. If such a thing happens I fear for my children.'

'Brown, fighting mad, demanded an apology and asserted: 'I am for a decent clean city. I would never stand for prostitution or ...


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