LEGAL FACTS: In the context of defamation actions (libel and slander) a public official cannot win a lawsuit on incorrect harmful statements, unless there is proof that the publisher acted with actual malice by knowing the falsity…..
IT WAS A SETUP: Someone sent an email to Hezi Aris at the Yonkers Tribune and wrote that he had information about an alleged bar fight that took place recently at Fogarty’s in Bronxville and was willing to meet Hezi Aris with information and photos, claiming he was there when it happened.
LEGAL PAPERS: When Hezi Aris went to meet this person last Friday at an arranged location, a woman who I will not name because it’s not necessary, approached Hezi Aris and handed him papers saying,”here is a gift from John, you have been served.”
YONKERS TRIBUNE: Perjurers Hiding Behind Gold Shields CBy C.J. Vegas
YONKERS: Freshly out of Facebook lockup and onto business.
I just heard that “Bozo the Clown” Yonkers Police Chief #JohnMueller has filed a lawsuit against Hezi Aris (Editor-at-Large of the Yonkers Tribune) and the Yonkers Tribune itself for articles written.
Now those not familiar with the Yonkers Tribune, its basically an online news outlet for news……
Without knowing all of the facts this appears to be a SLAPP Lawsuit brought by Yonkers Police Department Chief #JohnMueller against Yonkers Tribune Publisher #HeziAris
A short or strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.
SLAPPs have become an all-too-common tool for intimidating and silencing critics
Such lawsuits have been made illegal in many jurisdictions on the grounds that they impede freedom of speech.
In the typical SLAPP, the plaintiff does not normally expect to win the lawsuit. The plaintiff’s goals are accomplished if the defendant succumbs to fear, intimidation, mounting legal costs, or simple exhaustion and abandons the criticism
When a plaintiff brings a SLAPP lawsuit against someone attempting to exercise their right of free speech, it is usually under the guise of a defamation claim.
The goal of plaintiffs in these cases is not necessarily to actually win the lawsuit, but to drag their critics to court and bury them under a pile of attorney’s fees and embarrassment until they cry “uncle!” and agree to be quiet
SLAPPs aren’t just random meritless lawsuits, they are lawsuits that directly attack First Amendment rights
A SLAPP may also intimidate others from participating in the debate. A SLAPP is often preceded by a legal threat.
Under the First Amendment there is no such thing as a false idea
The the First Amendment requires that we protect some falsehood in order to protect speech that matters
The courts have ruled that the First Amendment protects the publication of all statements, even false ones, about the conduct of public officials except when statements are made with actual malice (with knowledge that they are false)
The United States Supreme Court has virtually any attempt to squelch criticism of public officials—even if false—as antithetical to “the central meaning of the First Amendment.
In n New York, state courts have ruled all statements of opinion are protected as long as they do not allege illegal conduct.
You may dislike or disagree with the Yonkers Tribune, but its voice should not be silenced in Yonkers.
We want Yonkers’ many diverse voices speaking out on a public issue or controversy
Average citizens have been “SLAPPed” for actions such as posting a blog entry, posting a comment on another person’s blog, writing a letter to the editor of a newspaper, testifying before the legislature, reporting official misconduct, or circulating a petition.
Lawsuits targeting individuals who post anonymously on the Internet, usually because their posted messages criticize the actions of public figures or corporations, are sometimes called cyberSLAPPs.
Like a regular SLAPP, a cyberSLAPP aims at chilling free speech by intimidating critics with the prospect of defending an expensive lawsuit.
But it also often aims at uncovering the identity of the anonymous critic.
Indeed, anonymous debate was at the center of the revolutionary politics that led to American independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which enshrined the press freedoms that continue to protect anonymous speech today.
In fact, some of the most prominent Founding Fathers regularly used the shield of pseudonyms including Thomas Paine, John Dickinson, Alexander Hamilton, Arthur Lee, John Jay, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.
Those who would criticize anonymous speech must also recognize that anonymity has been an essential, and often productive, feature of American democratic politics since its beginning.
Saltsman v. Goddard Blogger Case
The Steubenville High School rape occurred in Steubenville, Ohio on the night of August 11, 2012, when a high-school girl, incapacitated by alcohol, was publicly and repeatedly sexually assaulted by her peers, several of whom documented the acts on social media.
The victim was transported, undressed, photographed, and sexually assaulted.
Saltsman v. Goddard concerned an effort by the parents of Cody Saltsman, a teenage boy from Steubenville, to stop blogger Alexandria Goddard’s website from publishing allegedly defamatory posts about their son.
The parents sued Goddard and a dozen anonymous posters in October 2012; a legal blogger labeled it a SLAPP suit
The lawsuit asked for an injunction against the blogger, a public apology stating that the boy was not involved in the rape and $25,000 in damages.
The ACLU became involved on behalf of Goddard and the anonymous posters
The majority of local anonymous posters named in the lawsuit via their online nametag perceived this lawsuit as merely an avenue to learn their identity.
The case was dismissed with prejudice in December 2012.
When it was all said and done this was posted by Cody Saltsman, a teenage boy from Steubenville as part of the lawsuit
STATEMENT FROM CODY SALTSMAN
“I deeply regret my actions on the night of August 11, 2012. While I wasn’t at the home where the alleged assault took place, there is no doubt that I was wrong to post that picture from an earlier party and tweet those awful comments. Not a moment goes by that I don’t wish I would have never posted that picture or tweeted those comments. I want to sincerely apologize to the victim and her family for these actions. I also want to acknowledge the work of several bloggers, especially Ms. Goddard at Prinniefied.com, in their efforts to make sure the full truth about that terrible night eventually comes out. At no time did my family mean to stop anyone from expressing themselves online – we only wanted to correct what we believed were misstatements that appeared on Ms. Goddard’s blog. I am glad that we have resolved our differences with Ms. Goddard and that she and her contributors can continue their work.” – Cody Saltsman
THE BOTTOM LINE IS THIS:
Online blogs are a community where many different people express divergent views on important social issues and daily life.
Instead of seeking to silence those of us who were expressing our opinions, those who were offended should have added their voice to the conversation.