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Free speech or defamation? Seneca County judge says Cayuga Nation suit against former employee can go forward

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

Seneca County Judge Barry Porsch has decided that the defamation lawsuit brought by Cayuga Nation leader Clint Halftown and Police Chief Mark Lincoln against Charles Bowman, a former Nation employee, will go to trial. Porsch, acting as the Seneca County State Supreme Court Judge, declined the motion for summary judgment, stating that Bowman has presented enough facts to proceed to trial.


The lawsuit centers on accusations that Bowman has been conducting a defamation campaign against Halftown and Lincoln through his Facebook account. The plaintiffs argue that Bowman’s written statements and live streams are defamatory and harm their reputations. However, Bowman contends that his comments are protected expressions of opinion and denies defaming Halftown’s heritage or falsely calling Lincoln a liar.

Judge Porsch’s ruling underscores the importance of distinguishing between defamatory statements and protected speech, referencing the historical context of the New York Times Co. vs. Sullivan case. He noted that expressions of opinion, whether true or false, are constitutionally protected.