Judge tosses out Joe Arpaio's $300M defamation lawsuit against CNN, other media outlets

A federal judge has thrown out a $300 million defamation lawsuit filed by Joe Arpaio, Arizona’s former Maricopa County sheriff, against CNN and two other national media outlets.

A Washington, D.C., judge on Thursday dismissed the suit Arpaio filed in December, in which Arpaio argued that reporters from CNN, HuffPost and Rolling Stone had falsely referred to him as a “convicted felon” despite his presidential pardon and that the reports tarnished his “distinguished” career, the Arizona Republic reports.

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U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth wrote in his opinion that Arpaio’s suit failed to prove actual malice.

"The burden of putting forward articulate facts of actual malice is a difficult one to meet, especially when discovery is not yet available to the parties," he wrote. "But without this safeguard, the threat of lawsuits would chill our precious First Amendment rights to freely engage in political discourse."

Arpaio’s attorney, Larry Klayman, said in a release that they plan to try to move forward with the lawsuit, the Republic reports.

"Judge Lamberth is one of the few courageous and intellectually honest judges on the federal bench today," he stated. "I am reasonably certain, based on the law, that he will allow Sheriff Arpaio to amend the complaint, in order that this case can move forward to discovery and a jury trial."

Arpaio, who unsuccessfully ran for the Senate in 2018 and who plans to run for his old job in 2020, was convicted of criminal contempt by a federal court in 2017 for disobeying a federal judge’s order on detaining people suspected of being in the U.S. illegally.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMost Americans break with Trump on Ukraine, but just 45 percent think he should be removed: poll Judge orders Democrats to give notice if they request Trump's NY tax returns Trump's doctor issues letter addressing 'speculation' about visit to Walter Reed MORE pardoned Arpaio later that year before he could be sentenced, prompting backlash from Democrats and civil rights groups.

Arpaio, who calls himself “America’s toughest sheriff,” also filed a $147.5 million libel suit against The New York Times and a member of its editorial board in October.