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    State’s high court will hear defamation lawsuit against Deval Patrick

    Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick speaks on a panel on leadership during times of crisis at the Newseum in Washington, DC, February 22, 2016. / AFP / SAUL LOEBSAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
    Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
    Former governor Deval Patrick.

    The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has agreed to hear arguments in early December in an especially unsavory legal dispute involving former Governor Deval Patrick.

    Patrick is still — still! — staring down a defamation suit filed just before he left office, while his lawyers argue he can’t be held liable for the things he said while he occupied the corner office.

    So far, the former governor has lost in court. But the state’s highest court — many of whose members he appointed — will weigh in during the first week of December.

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    Patrick was sued for defamation and unlawful termination by Saundra Edwards, the woman he’d appointed to lead the Sex Offender Registry Board. At the time of her firing, Patrick said the “final straw” was her “inappropriate” and possibly “unlawful” interference in a case involving his brother-in-law. A hearing officer had decided that Patrick’s brother-in-law did not need to register as a sex offender in Massachusetts though he had been convicted in California of raping Patrick’s sister. Edwards said she was trying to correct what she viewed as a mistake and that “spousal rape is rape.”

    Edwards alleged the governor’s comments about her were defamatory and made with malice.

    Stephanie Ebbert can be reached at Stephanie.Ebbert@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @StephanieEbbert