A few years ago, I posed the following question and answer on Minnesota Litigator:
If a Minnesota litigator (that is, NOT “Minnesota Litigator,” but just any old Minnesota litigator) files a malicious complaint — that is, a formal legal complaint in court including knowingly false and damaging statements — can she be successfully sued for defamation? Probably not (assuming the statement has “reference and relation to the subject matter of the action”).
Absolute immunity for defamatory statements made by participants in the course of a judicial proceeding dates back at least to the sixteenth century, the Minnesota Supreme Court has pointed out.
I followed up with the question: What if Minnesota Litigator then publishes the Minnesota litigator’s false, damaging, and malicious complaint? Can Minnesota Litigator be successfully sued for defamation? Probably not. (Substantial repetition of an absolutely privileged statement does not trigger liability).
Note I give myself wiggle room: “Probably not.” I would have thought that a law professor’s article reciting allegations in a complaint in a law review article would be safe from a claim for defamation but, then again…