John Grisham Sued for Libel

Posted on October 1, 2007

John Grisham is being sued for libel. The lawsuit concerns a nonfiction book, <An Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town, that he wrote about the murder of a cocktail waitress that happened in 1982. Two men - Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz - were wrongfully convicted of the crime and spent 12 years in jail before being exonerated by DNA evidence. The book discusses the arrogance and wrongdoing in the case by then district attorney, Bill Peterson. They are seeking $75,000 and want a jury trial.

Fritz is one of the people named as a defendant in the lawsuit. Fritz tells Forbes, "It's nothing more than a power play to get people to believe (Peterson) did nothing wrong. It has no merit. We simply told the truth and I have a right to write what my thoughts were."

The attorney representing Peterson tells The Oklahoman, "I think John Grisham forgot that he was writing a nonfiction book. He himself stated in a speech in Virginia about the time the book was released - he said he fully expected to be sued."

The facts of the case appear clear and Grisham lays out several instances of misconduct by the prosecutor's office. We're not sure why Peterson is suing now; perhaps he's short of cash. In any event, he put two innocent men behind bars and the truth came out. It seems unlikely he will prevail.