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Ledvina v. Cerasani - 10/31/2006

Arizona Court of Appeals Division Two Affirms That Report of an Alleged Crime to the Police Is Absolutely Privileged as a Communication Related to a Judicial Proceeding.

Ledvina was charged with criminal damage based on a report Cerasani made to the police that Ledvina had slashed Cerasani’s tires. The Ledvinas subsequently sued the Cerasanis for defamation. The court entered summary judgment in favor of the Cerasanis, finding that the police complaint was absolutely privileged as a statement related to a judicial proceeding. This appeal followed.

On appeal, the Ledvinas contended that only a conditional privilege should apply to statements made to the police. Judge Espinosa, writing for a unanimous panel, rejected this position and affirmed the trial court’s ruling. The court relied heavily on Sections 587, 588, and 598 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts, holding that police reports are absolutely privileged – rather than conditionally privileged – because they are communications preliminary to a proposed judicial proceeding. The court further noted that requiring crime victims to rely on the defense of qualified immunity would discourage reporting of criminal activity. Finally, the court noted that Arizona’s Victim’s Bill of Rights entitled putative crime victims to absolute immunity when they complain to the police.

Judge Espinosa authored the opinion; Judges Eckerstrom and Brammer concurred.

Posted On: 11/6/2006