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Twentysomething New Republic writer Ruth Shalit may have weathered several journalists’ recent accusations of plagiarism (see “Baby Ruth,” 10/20/95), but she hasn’t escaped the wrath of one of her maligned subjects. D.C. lawyer and businessman Roy Littlejohn has slapped Shalit and the New Republic with a $20-million libel suit. In an Oct. 2, 1995, article, “Race in the Newsroom,” Shalit wrote that Littlejohn, whom she called a crony of Mayor Marion Barry, had done time on corruption charges. After learning that Littlejohn has never been charged with any criminal offense, the New Republic published a correction and an apology. But Littlejohn wasn’t quite as forgiving as the journalists whose work Shalit allegedly appropriated. He filed suit in D.C. Superior Court days after the article appeared, accusing Shalit of defamation and reckless disregard for the truth. He also targeted the magazine’s editors for failing to vet Shalit’s story. “[T]he New Republic…had obvious reasons to doubt the veracity and accuracy of defendant Shalit as a journalist,” the complaint reads. The magazine’s lawyers have conceded that Shalit made a mistake, but they argue in court papers that Littlejohn wasn’t injured by it. They also argue that Littlejohn is libelproof because he is a public figure, a claim they’re supporting with Washington City Paper articles, among other evidence. (Loose Lips has written extensively about Littlejohn’s association with Barry.) Shalit declined comment on the case. Littlejohn and New Republic Editor Andrew Sullivan did not return calls.CP