Unfounded statements

On Nov. 16, The Northern Star published in the form of a guest editorial what amounted to a 700-word tirade attacking our professionalism as lawyers for the NIU student body. We categorically deny the charges of the author, Donald Roth. They are utter nonsense.

Libelous statements, which we believe Mr. Roth’s remarks to be, have the invidious effect of compelling the person(s) accused to refute the falsehoods, thus drawing additional attention to them, or ignoring them, and so risk the possibility that unsuspecting readers will take our silence as an admission of the calumny, or as bad, that we are unconcerned about our reputations and will willingly suffer abuse.

The fact is that to explicate and then answer Mr. Roth’s rambling defamations would involve possible compromise of our clients’ confidentiality or the public discussion of issues relating to pending or imminent litigation, which, like many attorneys, it is our policy not to engage in.

Restricted by our ethical responsibilities from responding to Mr. Roth’s malignity, it is possible at least to point out the irony of Mr. Roth’s accusations that we regularly “Mis/malinform” our clients in our newspaper columns when Mr. Roth fails to reveal that he is not simply an “NIU Alumnus” as he identified himself to be, but is, in fact, the General Manager of WestRidge Apartments in DeKalb. This may shed some light on Mr. Roth’s animus against us and how it is that what evidently set him off was the column we wrote on Oct. 25, leading support to the SA Tenant Union’s efforts to develop a tenant complaint system for the use by NIU students in choosing housing.

Finally, and so that we can get this matter behind us, this is to express our keen disappointment that The Northern Star would publish an article that repeatedly attacked our professional integrity without contacting us or, evidently in any other way, attempting to assess the factual basis for the virulent attacks against us. While the law may not require a publisher to conduct an independent inquiry into the truth or falsity of a writer’s statements unless a publisher knows or has reason to be aware of the falsity or probable falsity of the facts, we would hope the Star in the future takes greater care to investigate letters and columns submitted for publication that are directed against the honesty, ethics and professional competence of anyone in our community.