Michigan Legal Milestones
4. The Roosevelt-Newett Libel Trial

A much celebrated 1913 trial involving former President Theodore Roosevelt (he prevailed as plaintiff, but was awarded 6 cents in damages). Dedicated and placed at the Marquette County Courthouse in Marquette in May 1986.

Michigan Bar Journal

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Complete Text on Milestone Marker

Roosevelt-Newett Libel Trial

In 1913, former President Theodore Roosevelt sued George A. Newett, publisher of the Iron Ore, an Ishpeming newspaper, for libel. An article in Mr. Newett's newspaper had accused Roosevelt of getting "drunk . . . and not that infrequently."

Newett defended against the suit by claiming that Roosevelt was a public figure about whom he was free to publish comments. He also claimed that the allegations were true.

At the conclusion of a week-long jury trial held here in this courthouse, Mr. Newett dramatically retracted his charges, saying, "In the face of the unqualified testimony of so many distinguished men . . . I am forced to conclude that I was mistaken." Roosevelt then withdrew his claim for damages, asking the court to instruct the jury that he wanted only nominal damages. The jury accepted his request and awarded him the sum of six cents.

Placed by the State Bar of Michigan and the Marquette County Bar Association, 1987.