In his analysis, Justice Shulman ruled that the January op-ed piece was not defamatory when looked at as a whole, noting it alluded to "judicial corruption in Brooklyn" and focused on "the secretive, all-powerful screening panel" used to select Supreme Court candidates.
The piece only referenced Martin once, Shulman held, and primarily discussed Karp and Batra.
"Construed as a whole, this court cannot conclude, as Justice Martin suggests, that the First Article conveys to the average reader that plaintiff was an accomplice in rigging a case ... or engaged in criminal acts which should be investigated by the proper authorities," Shulman wrote.
But the judge reached the opposite conclusion regarding the second article, which misidentified the case over which Martin presided.
While the citation mistake itself was not enough to be defamatory, Shulman held, writing that "corruption can be hidden or subtle" and pointing the reader to "the case of Justice Larry Martin," could cause an average reader to conclude that "plaintiff is a corrupt jurist" under investigation.
As the article could be understood to accuse Martin of criminal activity, the court "could not conclude as a matter of law" that it was protected opinion and thus allowed the claim against the Daily News and Louis to proceed, but dismissed it in regards to Batra.
"[E]ven assuming Batra was the source of any potentially defamatory allegations, there is no allegation or other indication that he had any control over the publication of the Second Article," Shulman wrote.
Neither Louis nor Batra posted anything defamatory on the Daily News Web site, Shulman found in dismissing Martin's causes of action regarding the blog posts.
The judge characterized Louis' "clear as a bell" statement as "mere hyperbole" and thus not actionable, and Batra's reaffirmation of the second article as only vouching for "the accuracy of the general proposition that Justice Martin did indeed preside" over the action.
In a statement, Batra praised the decision as making "clear that truth is welcome in a court, and that for a lawyer to speak the truth is not defamatory."
Martin's attorney, Stuart A. Blander of Heller, Horowitz & Feit, said he had not decided his next move.
Anne Carroll, deputy general counsel for the Daily News, said she was pleased with the dismissal of the majority of the claims and was evaluating her options.
A preliminary conference date is set for Aug. 11.