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Exeter man loses bid to upend N.H.'s defamation law after 'dirty cop' post

Bob Frese poses for a portrait while wearing a T-shirt that says "EXETER POLICE LIE"
Todd Bookman
Bob Frese, seen here in an NHPR file photo, was arrested for criminal defamation, prompting a federal lawsuit over the constitutionality of the statute.

A man who was criminally charged for posting an online comment stating Exeter's former police chief "covered up for a dirty cop" has lost his appeal to overturn New Hampshire's criminal defamation law.

Robert Frese, of Exeter, sued the state's attorney general in 2018 claiming the state's criminal libel law was not constitutional because it violates his First and Fourteenth amendment rights. A three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit issued a ruling Tuesday, rejecting Frese's claims by upholding the state law and affirming a prior judge's decision to dismiss the case.

Earlier coverage from NHPR: An Exeter man is at the center of a First Amendment dispute

“Mindful of the Supreme Court's guidance that ‘the knowingly false statement and the false statement made with reckless disregard of the truth, do not enjoy constitutional protection,’ we conclude that Frese's allegations fall short of asserting viable constitutional claims,” U.S. Circuit Judge Jeffrey Howard wrote on behalf of the panel.

Frese was represented in court by attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire, who took on the case to challenge the law.

Read the full story from Seacoastonline here.

These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit

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