skip to main content


Firm obtains $500K defamation judgment against Church Militant

Howard M. Cooper and Joseph M. Cacace obtained on behalf of Father Georges de Laire, the Judicial Vicar of the Diocese of Manchester, N.H., a $500,000 defamation judgment against St. Michael’s Media, publisher of Church Militant.

The publishing company agreed to the entry of a judgment against it and also agreed to issue a public apology to Father de Laire expressing its regret for not properly vetting a story written by Canonist Marc Balestrieri and published in January 2019 entitled “NH Vicar Changes Dogma Into Heresy.”

St. Michael’s Media has also represented that it will cease all operations of Church Militant by the end of April 2024.

Church Militant and Mr. Balestrieri claimed in the article to have talked to a number of anonymous sources who allegedly made negative comments about Father de Laire both personally and professionally.  During the lawsuit, in which Mr. Balestrieri failed to appear to defend the claims against him or to appear at his deposition after committing on the record in court he would do so, the defendants were unable to identify a single source who said anything negative about Father de Laire. 

To the contrary, the evidence established that Father de Laire is highly regarded by all who know him, and that Mr. Balestrieri manufactured a controversy because at the time he was representing the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Saint Benedict Center in Richmond, NH.  

The group had been placed under Precepts by the Diocese of Manchester because of their nonobservance of Church law, according to the Church.  The defamation was used, apparently, as an attempt to discredit Father de Laire and the Diocese and to raise funds including to pay for Mr. Balestrieri's services as a canonist.  

At Mr. Balestrieri’s insistence, his authorship of the article at issue was hidden from readers.  Father de Laire’s lawsuit forced the disclosure of these facts about Church Militant and Mr. Balestrieri.

Suzanne Elovecky, a partner at Partridge Snow & Hahn, also represents Father de Laire in the lawsuit.