Thursday, July 16, 2015

In the News...

No, not custom-ordered news... like news you order in April that you're still waiting for in May.



No, GA's got real news of real significance- to practitioners of political discourse online in New Jersey.

That  could mean you.  

Because the New Jersey Law Journal published "Sanctions, Fees Top $280K After Defamation Suit Tossed" last night and, according to a (lawyer) friend:
This is the premiere legal publication for NJ lawyers. Every good, practicing NJ lawyer and judge reads this weekly. So this case will now be known statewide.
You will have to register for a free limited membership to access the full article. But, unlike custom-news, there is no editorializing, moralizing or finger-wagging in the NJ Law Journal.

Just facts.


And the facts are not a pretty picture for the Plaintiffs nor their attorneys, Whitney Gibson of Vorys, Seymour, Sater and Pease, Amy Cox, and Jonathan Z. Cohen.
"In the July 8 ruling, Arre found the defendants fulfilled the procedural requirements of Rule 1:4-8 and N.J.S.A. 2A:15-59.1, which allows a prevailing party to collect legal fees and costs upon a showing that litigation was frivolous. He said the Bajardis "manipulated their attorney to perpetrate and perpetuate a SLAPP suit disguised as a defamation case involving weighty issues of constitutionally protected First Amendment political fee speech."

Gibson and Cox failed to conduct a reasonable inquiry into whether the allegations in the suit had evidentiary support, Arre said. And Cohen's claim that he had a reasonable basis to believe actual malice could be proven was contrary to evidence that the defendants' allegedly defamatory statements were substantially true.

The Bajardis never provided support for their claims of economic and reputational damage, and they were not forthcoming about the extent of their political involvement, Arre said. Their claims were pursued in bad faith with the purpose of harassment, delay and malicious injury, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2A:15-59.1, Arre said."
GA hears that other legal journals have picked up the scent.

This case may become a national story.  Maybe.

But for now it is a big story in New Jersey's legal community.  Holding lawyers accountable for bringing garbage to court does not happen every day. Sanctions are a black mark on the record of any attorney, sanctions must be reported to their insurance carrier, and dog him/her throughout their career.  This decision will chill legal spines, and (one hopes) make CRAPP suits rare events in New Jersey.

Another result (one hopes) is freedom from fear of retribution for unpopular political speech or speech critical of the rich and/or powerful.

An encouraging sign is seen below the HR article "Payback": the return of rtrux.


GA remembered that screen name; rtrux was one of many who disappeared in the aftermath of the 2012 SLAPP.

In today's comment, rtrux  testifies to the chilling effect of the Bajardi's law suit on Hoboken's online political discourse; rtrux disappeared in 2012  because, "I didn't want Lane, Kim and Beth to sue me."  

And that is the intended chilling effect of a SLAPP.

But... rtrux is back.  Presumably he/she finds Arrre's decision safe harbor from attacks on his/her political speech, like the ones Bajardi v Pincus Defendants battled.

The return of rtrux is but one tiny example of how the Arre decision has strengthened First Amendment protections for ALL online political discourse in New Jersey.

But GA will leave the legal analysis to the lawyers, and we can expect plenty of that in the days ahead.   Thank you, Judge Arre.

15 comments:

  1. An ironic video Whitney Gibson Esq. posted just two weeks ago.

    http://youtu.be/cR63AH4SBqM

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Way to ignore their own advice.

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. Welcome back rtrux!

      I'm so happy to see you pick up where you left off in 2012 before Lane Bajardi and Kim Cardinal Bajardi tried to SLAPP our mouths shut in their attack on the First Amendment- and I have a REASONABLE BASIS for that OPINION (See Judge Arre Opinion).

      I wish others would reclaim their pre-SLAPP screen names, whomever is still around.

      I remember you, rtrux, loved your posts. I half-expected to see your screen name in the Bajardi's 'kitchen-sink' SLAPP or I believe Arre called it a"machine gun" complaint... tat-a-tat-tat.

      I guess their Reform-commenters hit-list got too long and fell off the page?

      Delete
  3. Hector Torres JunyaJuly 16, 2015 at 10:07 PM

    Look, it's a bird, a plane, it's rtrux!

    ReplyDelete
  4. The Unger games.

    GA, may the odds always be in your favor.

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  5. Does the law journal care because this is a ground-breaking, record-setting, biggest-thing-EVAR first amendment case or does it care that the Lawyers are being fined because they acted improperly and other lawyers will want to know how to stay in the lines and not get fined?

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    Replies
    1. Probably mostly the latter but also the former. Both, in other words.

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    2. My 2 cents: both.

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    3. How is this case ground breaking? What legal precedent or principle was created or changed?

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    4. anon @11:02...umm, you're the one who mentioned "groundbreaking" here, maybe you should ask yourself. ;)

      I can't find anywhere in this post where GA says it's groundbreaking.

      Delete
    5. The judgment is a big deal because this type of award is rarely given to defendants, and as GA said, "Holding lawyers accountable for bringing garbage to court does not happen every day."

      For some reason you seem insistent on declaring it doesn't reach the level of a "ground-breaking, record-setting, biggest-thing-EVAR first amendment case." So what if it doesn't? It's clearly a really rare occurrence and big news in the legal community.

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    6. 11:35, please can't you see that anon 10:19 and 11:02 is trying to find a silver lining in the crap sandwich that is being served over at 12th and Washington

      This is so enjoyable to watch. The minions had always ran around town saying they would own people's apartments after they were done and would ride GA and Horse out of town. Well now who needs to leave town??? It ain't GA or Horse

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    7. Bingo, anon@11:56...reminds me of the semantic tango danced by certain oh-so-clever wordsmiths in town (and texas) who were always SO delighted when they could declare themselves technically correct on something. Like being "not paid...for friendship".

      Someone's getting the last laugh, and it ain't the wordsmiths.

      Delete