S 70. Vexatious suits. If a person vexatiously or maliciously, in the name of another but without the latter's consent, or in the name of an unknown person, commences or continues, or causes to be commenced or continued, an action or special proceeding, in a court, of record or not of record, or a special proceeding before a judge or a justice of the peace; or takes, or causes to be taken, any proceeding, in the course of an action or special proceeding in such a court, or before such an officer, either before or after judgment or other final determination; an action to recover damages therefor may be maintained against him by the adverse party to the action or special proceeding; and a like action may be maintained by the person, if any, whose name was thus used. He is also guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment not exceeding six months. S 70-a. Actions involving public petition and participation; recovery of damages. 1. A defendant in an action involving public petition and participation, as defined in paragraph (a) of subdivision one of section seventy-six-a of this article, may maintain an action, claim, cross claim or counterclaim to recover damages, including costs and attorney's fees, from any person who commenced or continued such action; provided that: (a) costs and attorney's fees may be recovered upon a demonstration that the action involving public petition and participation was commenced or continued without a substantial basis in fact and law and could not be supported by a substantial argument for the extension, modification or reversal of existing law; (b) other compensatory damages may only be recovered upon an additional demonstration that the action involving public petition and participation was commenced or continued for the purpose of harassing, intimidating, punishing or otherwise maliciously inhibiting the free exercise of speech, petition or association rights; and (c) punitive damages may only be recovered upon an additional demonstration that the action involving public petition and participation was commenced or continued for the sole purpose of harassing, intimidating, punishing or otherwise maliciously inhibiting the free exercise of speech, petition or association rights. 2. The right to bring an action under this section can be waived only if it is waived specifically. 3. Nothing in this section shall affect or preclude the right of any party to any recovery otherwise authorized by common law, or by statute, law or rule. S 71. Damages in action for suing in name of another. In an action, brought by the adverse party, as prescribed in the last section, the plaintiff, if he recovers final judgment, is entitled to recover treble damages. In an action, brought by the person whose name was used, as prescribed in the last section, the plaintiff is entitled to recover his actual damages, and two hundred and fifty dollars in addition thereto. S 72. Term of imprisonment of civil prisoner. No person shall be imprisoned within the prison walls of any jail for a longer period than three months under an execution or any other mandate against the person to enforce the recovery of a sum of money less than five hundred dollars in amount or under a commitment upon a fine for contempt of court in the nonpayment of alimony, maintenance, distributive awards or special relief in matrimonial actions or counsel fees in a divorce case where the amount so to be paid is less than the sum of five hundred dollars; and where the amount in either of said cases is five hundred dollars or over, such imprisonment shall not continue for a longer period than six months. It shall be the duty of the sheriff in whose custody any such person is held to discharge such person at the expiration of said respective periods without any formal application being made therefor. No person shall be imprisoned within the jail liberties of any jail for a longer period than six months upon any execution or other mandate against the person to enforce the recovery of a sum of five hundred dollars or over or for a longer period than three months where the amount is less than five hundred dollars, and no action shall be commenced against the sheriff upon a bond given for the jail liberties by such person. In computing the term of imprisonment time spent within the prison walls of any jail and time spent within the jail liberties shall be included. Notwithstanding such a discharge in either of the above cases, the judgment creditor in the execution, or the person at whose instance the said mandate was issued, has the same remedy against the property of the person imprisoned which he or she had before such execution or mandate was issued; but the prisoner shall not be again imprisoned upon a like process issued in the same action or arrested in any action upon any judgment under which the same may have been granted. Except in a case hereinbefore specified nothing in this section shall affect a commitment for contempt of court. S 73. Code of fair procedure for investigating agencies. 1. As used in this section the following terms shall mean and include: (a) "Agency". A standing or select committee of either house of the legislature or a joint committee of both houses; a duly authorized subcommittee of any such legislative committee; the commissioner of investigation acting pursuant to section eleven of the executive law; a commissioner appointed by the governor acting pursuant to section six of the executive law; the attorney general acting pursuant to subdivision eight of section sixty-three of the executive law; any temporary state commission or any duly authorized subcommittee thereof which has the power to require testimony or the production of evidence by subpoena or other compulsory process in an investigation being conducted by it; and any standing or select committee, or subcommittee thereof, of the constitutional convention to be held in the year nineteen hundred sixty-seven. (b) "Hearing". Any hearing in the course of an investigatory proceeding (other than a preliminary conference or interview at which no testimony is taken under oath) conducted before an agency at which testimony or the production of other evidence may be compelled by subpoena or other compulsory process. (c) "Public hearing". Any hearing open to the public, or any hearing, or such part thereof, as to which testimony or other evidence is made available or disseminated to the public by the agency. (d) "Private hearing". Any hearing other than a public hearing. 2. No person may be required to appear at a hearing or to testify at a hearing unless there has been personally served upon him prior to the time when he is required to appear, a copy of this section, and a general statement of the subject of the investigation. A copy of the resolution, statute, order or other provision of law authorizing the investigation shall be furnished by the agency upon request therefor by the person summoned. 3. A witness summoned to a hearing shall have the right to be accompanied by counsel, who shall be permitted to advise the witness of his rights, subject to reasonable limitations to prevent obstruction of or interference with the orderly conduct of the hearing. Counsel for any witness who testifies at a public hearing may submit proposed questions to be asked of the witness relevant to the matters upon which the witness has been questioned and the agency shall ask the witness such of the questions as it may deem appropriate to its inquiry. 4. A complete and accurate record shall be kept of each public hearing and a witness shall be entitled to receive a copy of his testimony at such hearing at his own expense. Where testimony which a witness has given at a private hearing becomes relevant in a criminal proceeding in which the witness is a defendant, or in any subsequent hearing in which the witness is summoned to testify, the witness shall be entitled to a copy of such testimony, at his own expense, provided the same is available, and provided further that the furnishing of such copy will not prejudice the public safety or security. 5. A witness who testifies at any hearing shall have the right at the conclusion of his examination to file a brief sworn statement relevant to his testimony for incorporation in the record of the investigatory proceeding. 6. Any person whose name is mentioned or who is specifically identified and who believes that testimony or other evidence given at a public hearing or comment made by any member of the agency or its counsel at such a hearing tends to defame him or otherwise adversely affect his reputation shall have the right, either to appear personally before the agency and testify in his own behalf as to matters relevant to the testimony or other evidence complained of, or in the alternative at the option of the agency, to file a statement of facts under oath relating solely to matters relevant to the testimony or other evidence complained of, which statement shall be incorporated in the record of the investigatory proceeding. 7. Nothing herein contained shall be construed to prevent an agency from granting to witnesses appearing before it, or to persons who claim to be adversely affected by testimony or other evidence adduced before it, such further rights and privileges as it may determine. 8. Except in the course of a subsequent hearing which is open to the public, no testimony or other evidence adduced at a private hearing or preliminary conference or interview conducted before a single-member agency in the course of its investigation shall be disseminated or made available to the public by said agency, its counsel or employees without the approval of the head of the agency. Except in the course of a subsequent hearing open to the public, no testimony or other evidence adduced at a private hearing or preliminary conference or interview before a committee or other multi-member investigating agency shall be disseminated or made available to the public by any member of the agency, its counsel or employees, except with the approval of a majority of the members of such agency. Any person who violates the provisions of this subdivision shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. 9. No temporary state commission having more than two members shall have the power to take testimony at a public or private hearing unless at least two of its members are present at such hearing. 10. Nothing herein contained shall be construed to effect, diminish or impair the right, under any other provision of law, rule or custom, of any member or group of members of a committee or other multi-member investigating agency to file a statement or statements of minority views to accompany and be released with or subsequent to the report of the committee or agency. S 74. Privileges in action for libel. A civil action cannot be maintained against any person, firm or corporation, for the publication of a fair and true report of any judicial proceeding, legislative proceeding or other official proceeding, or for any heading of the report which is a fair and true headnote of the statement published. This section does not apply to a libel contained in any other matter added by any person concerned in the publication; or in the report of anything said or done at the time and place of such a proceeding which was not a part thereof. S 75. Defamation by radio or television. 1. The owner, licensee or operator of a visual or sound radio broadcasting station or network of stations, and the agents or employees of any such owner, licensee or operator, shall not be liable for any damages for any defamatory statement published or uttered in or as a part of a visual or sound radio broadcast, by any legally qualified candidate for public office whose utterances, under rules and regulations of the federal communications commission may not be subject to censorship by such owner, licensee or operator of such visual or sound radio broadcasting station or network of stations, or their agents or employees. 2. A "legally qualified candidate" means any person who has publicly announced that he is a candidate for nomination by a convention of a political party or for nomination or election in a primary, special, or general election, municipal, county, state or national, and who meets the qualifications prescribed by the applicable laws to hold the office for which he is a candidate, so that he may be voted for by the electorate directly or by means of delegates or electors and who (a) has qualified for a place on the ballot or (b) is eligible under the applicable law to be voted by writing in his name on the ballot, or other method, and who has been nominated by a political party which is commonly known and regarded as such or makes a substantial showing that he is a bona fide candidate for nomination or office, as the case may be. 3. In order to be absolved from liability for damages for any utterance by a legally qualified candidate as herein defined in or as part of a visual or sound radio broadcast, the owner, licensee or operator of such visual or sound radio broadcasting station or network of stations, or the agents or employees thereof, shall announce, in substance, at the beginning and end of each such political broadcast of more than five minutes duration, and at the beginning of each such political broadcast of five minutes duration or less, that the remarks about to be made, or made, as the case may be, by the speaker are not to be construed as reflecting the opinions or beliefs of the station, its ownership or management. S 76. Action for libel: evidence, separate verdicts. At the trial of any civil action for libel, the defendant may prove, for consideration by the jury in fixing the amount of the verdict, that the plaintiff has already recovered damages, or has received, or agreed to receive, compensation in respect of a libel or libels of a similar purport or effect as the libel for which such action has been brought. In consolidated actions based on libels of similar purport or effect the jury shall assess the whole amount of the plaintiff's damages in one sum, but a separate verdict shall be taken for or against each defendant and the jury shall apportion the amount of damages among the defendants against whom it found a verdict. S 76-a. Actions involving public petition and participation; when actual malice to be proven. 1. For purposes of this section: (a) An "action involving public petition and participation" is an action, claim, cross claim or counterclaim for damages that is brought by a public applicant or permittee, and is materially related to any efforts of the defendant to report on, comment on, rule on, challenge or oppose such application or permission. (b) "Public applicant or permittee" shall mean any person who has applied for or obtained a permit, zoning change, lease, license, certificate or other entitlement for use or permission to act from any government body, or any person with an interest, connection or affiliation with such person that is materially related to such application or permission. (c) "Communication" shall mean any statement, claim, allegation in a proceeding, decision, protest, writing, argument, contention or other expression. (d) "Government body" shall mean any municipality, the state, any other political subdivision or agency of such, the federal government, any public benefit corporation, or any public authority, board, or commission. 2. In an action involving public petition and participation, damages may only be recovered if the plaintiff, in addition to all other necessary elements, shall have established by clear and convincing evidence that any communication which gives rise to the action was made with knowledge of its falsity or with reckless disregard of whether it was false, where the truth or falsity of such communication is material to the cause of action at issue. 3. Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit any constitutional, statutory or common law protections of defendants to actions involving public petition and participation. S 77. Special damages in action for slander of a woman. In an action of slander of a woman imputing unchastity to her, it is not necessary to allege or prove special damages. S 78. Mitigating circumstances in action for libel or slander. In an action for libel or slander the defendant may prove mitigating circumstances, including the sources of his information and the grounds for his belief, whether or not he has pleaded or attempted to prove any defense. A defendant in default for want of an answer may prove such mitigating circumstances upon a reference or inquiry to ascertain the amount of the plaintiff's damages. Matter tending only to mitigate or reduce damages is a partial defense and may be set forth in the answer. Top of Page
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