Skip to main content

Ventura, sniper's widow bring defamation case to St. Paul jury this week


The onus will be on Jesse Ventura and his attorney to prove that the former Minnesota governor was defamed in a best-selling book when a trial begins in U.S. District Court in St. Paul this week.

University of St. Thomas law professor Mark Anfinson tells the Star Tribune Ventura's defamation suit is "one of the most important First Amendment cases in recent Minnesota history."

Anfinson says the standard for defamation is high. He tells the Star Tribune Ventura will have to prove not only that the story about him contained in the book "American Sniper" is false, but also that the author was aware of that and published the story with malice.

Raleigh Levine, a professor at William Mitchell College of Law, tells the Associated Press it's harder to prove malice than falsity. "It has to do with what you know about the truth -- that you actually knew that what you were saying was false or that you recklessly disregarded the truth," Levine tells the AP.

"American Sniper" was written by Chris Kyle and recounts episodes that built his reputation as the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history. The book also tells of a 2006 bar fight in which Kyle punched a man he called "Scruff Face," whom he later confirmed was Ventura.

In relating the anecdote, Kyle writes that Scruff Face was criticizing President George W. Bush, the Iraq War, and Navy SEAL tactics before Kyle dropped him to the floor with a punch.

Ventura argues the incident is a fabrication.

The former governor and Navy SEAL testified in a deposition last year the incident described in "American Sniper" has damaged his reputation and made it harder for him to find work. He told the Associated Press in February the lawsuit is not about money, but about clearing his name.

Kyle (right) and a friend were killed in a shooting at a Texas gun range last year. A judge subsequently ruled the defamation case could proceed with Kyle's widow, Taya Kyle, serving as the defendant. Taya Kyle is the executor of her late husband's estate, the Dallas Morning News reports.

The AP says the trial is likely to last more than two weeks and will include testimony from both Taya Kyle and Jesse Ventura. The Star Tribune says court documents indicate the former governor's wife, Terry Ventura, and adult son, Tyrell, will also provide testimony to the ten-member jury.
Chris Kyle discussed his book during a 2012 interview with television host Conan O'Brien.

Next Up

unsplash - school girl students

St. Paul is closing 6 schools amid declining enrollment

The board revised the plan after the school communities voiced concerns.

Karl-Anthony Towns

X-rays negative after Karl-Anthony Towns takes scary fall

Towns crashed hard to the ground late in the game Wednesday night.

Minneapolis police

2 more homicides push Minneapolis closer to record set in 1995

The deadly shootings happened on the city's North Side Wednesday night.

Karl-Anthony Towns

KAT sets a franchise record, leaves early in loss to Wizards

Towns fell on his back in the final minutes of a loss in Washington.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Man shot by police in Forest Lake dies from injuries

It was one of two police shootings in the Twin Cities on the same day, both of which proved fatal.

Dylan Bundy

Report: Twins agree to deal with Dylan Bundy

The Twins signed the right-hander with a lockout imminent.

Flickr - face masks covid pole - Ivan Radic

'Everyone should really be masking up' in public, Malcolm says

The health commissioner said residents have gotten "a little bit lax" with some protective measures.

Byron Buxton

Byron Buxton believes he's the best player in baseball

"Nobody [does] the things that I do. I know that."

unsplash medical marijuana

Edibles coming to Minnesota's medical marijuana program

MDH also announced it will not add anxiety as qualifying condition.

plow, snowplow, snow

Plowable snow possible this weekend in Minnesota

Up to half a foot of snow could fall within the heaviest band.

Best Buy - jjbers, Flickr

Police reveal new details about 'coordinated' Best Buy thefts

A large group stole thousands of dollars in merchandise from three Twin Cities Best Buy stores.