The law treats defamation with actual malice more harshly than that committed negligently. The victim’s evidence required to show such malice must be clear, unambiguous, and very convincing — a much higher standard than that governing most civil cases.
The law also provides a qualified privilege to defendants who stand accused of defamation with actual malice. In cases – usually the many determining limited public figure status — where the Plaintiff seeks to overcome this privilege, she may show reckless disregard of her rights to establish the defendant acted with actual malice.
Courts have consistently held evidence of malice in libel and slander cases properly rests on recklessness. A party shows recklessness by demonstrating the defamation’s publisher lacked reasonable grounds for believing the truth of the statements. Hence, if the defendant dismissed all regard for the plaintiff, he or she libeled or slandered her recklessly.