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Callaway moves to have Smalls’ defamation suit moved to federal court

The local political operative being sued by Atlantic City’s mayor and his wife is trying to have the case moved to federal court.
Marty Small and his wife, Atlantic City High School Principal La’Quetta Small, filed a defamation suit last month alleging Craig Callaway and unnamed others slandered them.
“We believe it’s a First Amendment issue,” attorney Daniel Weininger told BreakingAC.
The case relates to Dr. LaQuetta Small’s cousin, Ka’yan Frazier, who recently pleaded guilty in a child pornography case. He was accused of molesting at least one minor and then sharing pictures and videos of the abuse.
Frazier worked under Dr. Small as a substitute at Pennsylvania Avenue School when Small was principal there.
Callaway claimed in at least two radio interviews that children were molested in the Smalls’ home and that one or both had witnessed it.
“Marty, you and your wife should have been focused on protecting and saving children who were in your home, who were savagely attacked and raped in your home,” Callaway said on the Harry Hurley show.
Callaway has not denied the remarks.
But in the filing made Thursday, Callaway’s attorney said that the Smalls would need to prove “actual malice,” since both Smalls are public officials/figures.
“It is a federal rule that prohibits a public official from recovering damages for a defamatory falsehood relating to his official conduct unless he proves that the statement was made… with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not,” Weininger wrote in his filing.
Because the law is a federal one, the motion was made to move the case from Atlantic County’s Civil Court to U.S. District Court.
“The biggest hurdle to a slander claim in this case is that the plaintiffs must prove the statement was uttered with ‘actual malice,’” Weininger said. “Mr.Callaway looks forward to mounting a forceful defense in this case brought by these two New Jersey public officials.”
Weininger noted that Frazier already has pleaded guilty and that the case and its connection to the Smalls “is a serious public concern to the voters of Atlantic City.”
The Smalls’ attorney, Ed Jacobs, said he had not yet received the filing and, therefore, could not comment.

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