Greensboro, NC -- Readers searching for an alternative news source trust the Rhinocerous Times and enjoy its style of journalism.
But in a lawsuit, two Greensboro police officers claim the paper "purports to be a source of accurate news," but "publishes false and defamatory statements about selected citizens of Guilford County."
The officers' attorney Amiel Rossabi said, "They published false defamatory statements with actual malice, meaning they knew that they were false or that they acted with reckless disregard as to the falsity."
Rossabi claims Bledsoe and the Rhinoceros Times conspired to paint his clients as "police officers who hang out with prostitutes and drug dealers."
The Rhino printed stories about the officers in a column called "Cops in Black and White," a multi-part series that suggests former Chief David Wray did nothing wrong.
Wray resigned in 2006 after a report accused him of unfairly investigating black police officers for crimes they didn't commit.
Wray was never charged with a crime.
Internal and external investigations found the officers innocent.
Today, both attorneys for the officers argued the Rhino did not ensure the columns were factual.
"At least their interrogatories thus far indicate that they in no way checked anything, the facts or corroboration of anything that Mr. Bledsoe has written," Rossabi said.
Attorneys for the officers want the paper to turn over documents proving the columns are true.
If on the other hand you purport to be just an opinion and that you have an ulterior motive… just be honest with people.
Rhino publisher William Hammer would not comment on the case.
Several calls to the rhino's attorney Seth Cohen were not returned.
A judge will now decide whether the Rhino Times must hand over its source documents.