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Ticket Mix-Up Causes Embarrassment

April 29, 1998

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) _ A man is suing a weekly newspaper and the court system for libel after a computer glitch transformed a report of a traffic ticket into a conviction for deviate sexual conduct.

``I’ve heard every sheep joke you can imagine,″ Cody Johnston, 22, said Tuesday.

Johnston is seeking unspecified damages.

Johnston said he learned of the mistake from his parents, who read it in the High Country Independent Press. He said he told them it wasn’t true, but they, his wife and his sister concluded he was in denial, and urged him to seek treatment.

``It was bad,″ Johnston said. ``You can imagine what was going through their minds, and of course, they didn’t believe me.″

Johnston had been fined $195 for a commercial trucking weight violation. But the list given to the newspaper contained the sex charge, which covers homosexual acts and bestiality.

Independent Press editor Devon Hubbard Sorlie said that the mistake was unfortunate and that the weekly promptly ran a prominent correction when Johnston’s father pointed out the error.

But Johnston contends the newspaper and the Gallatin County Justice Court had a duty to check the material for accuracy.

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