The chapter launches with Star Chamber proceedings against Lewis Pickering: in the sixteenth century, defaming the dead could be a crime. And that remains true even in today’s United States. But as the common law sharpened the distinction between tort and crime, it rejected the view that such defamation could be a tort. Tort claims extinguished when either plaintiff or defendant died. And when aggrieved survivors sued, the law held they hadn’t been wronged, even if they had been harmed, so they couldn’t recover, either.
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