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Ventura Heads To Court In Libel Case

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(credit: CBS) Jennifer Mayerle
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Jesse Ventura will head to federal court Tuesday morning in an effort to protect his name.

The former Minnesota Governor filed suit against Navy SEAL, Chris Kyle, the author of “American Sniper.”  Ventura claims Kyle lied about a fight between them.

“Libel cases are supposedly about restoring your reputation,” professor Jane Kirtley, with the University of Minnesota, said.

Kirtley, an attorney and professor, believes what Ventura wants is vindication.

“He wants to have a jury find that what was written about him is not true,” Kirtley said.

Kyle wrote about knocking out a public figure who was making anti-war comments in a bar. He didn’t name Ventura in the book, but later did during interviews.

Ventura claims the fight never happened.

“It’s ultimately going to be a swearing contest. It’s going to be for the jury, the opportunity to try to decide who they want to believe is telling the truth,” Kirtley said.

The standard to prove defamation of a public figure is difficult, Kirtley said. Even more so in this case since the defendant has since died. Kyle’s wife is now the defendant, who oversees his estate.

“Given that the author is no longer living, it’s going to be almost impossible to prove that he operated with the reckless level of fault, that is the knowledge of falsity, reckless disregard for the truth,” Kirtley said.

And Kirtley said this case goes to the heart of First Amendment rights.

“So, what this is really about is how dedicated we are to the idea that even if what was published about Governor Ventura is not true, that we have to tolerate it in order to make sure people are able to debate important publications,” Kirtley said.

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