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Is conservative blogger in Georgia another victim of “lawfare”?

Is conservative blogger in Georgia another victim of “lawfare”?

While the conservative blogosphere is focused on Brett Kimberlin, there is another instance of possible “lawfare” which deserves attention.

Roughly three weeks ago a lawsuit alleging defamation against a conservative blogger was filed in the Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia.

The claim was brought by Georgia Democratic Party Political Director, Rashad Richey, against conservative blogger Andre Walker of Georgia Politics Unfiltered, as well as a number of other named and unnamed Defendants.

In Richey’s complaint, a number of points were cited as evidence of libel and libel per se. Both of these categories fall under the legal umbrella of defamation. The complaint referenced, among other things, blog posts where Walker wrote that Richey had a “history of making poor personal decisions,” that he was a “criminal,” and a “jailbird.”

Walker has answered the complaint saying not only that this lawsuit is without merit, but also that it is an exercise of frivolity, actionable under the Georgia Abusive Litigation Act.

Walker further asserts that the statements at issue were made in the exercise of Walker’s “right of free speech under the Constitutions of Georgia and the United States of America…” and that truth is an absolute defense to a defamation claim.  News reports have publicized Richey’s history of run-ins with the law.

Additionally, Richey likely will be considered a “public figure” under the law, requiring him to prove actual malice.

In a landmark defamation case in 1964, New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, the U.S. Supreme Court addressed the issue of a defamation suit regarding a public figure. Said Justice Brennan:

 …we consider this case against the background of a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.

Given the difficulty of the case, why even assert the claim in the first place?

While not as dramatic as what has been going on with the Kimberlin “lawfare” issue which is dominating the right-blogosphere, such lawsuits can have a chilling effect.  While we can’t know Richey’s actual motives, this lawsuit likely is to deter others from probing issues as to Richey’s background.

It is imperative that we ensure that bloggers are free to state their political opinions with vigor, and to do so free from fear of legal action, or in some cases, bodily harm.

More to come as this case develops.

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Comments

We need a network of First Amendment lawyers to defend against this, because it WILL get worse if it shows any effect.

I’ll be available in the Houston area, and the Prof. knows how to get a hold of me.

Forewarned is forearmed.

stevewhitemd | May 24, 2012 at 9:24 am

I think it was Stalin who said, “once is happen-stance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action.”

This is twice.

Democrats are getting desperate, aren’t they…

    DavidG in reply to stevewhitemd. | May 24, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Well, it was Auric Goldfinger in the eponymous movie, but close.

    I think in the Breitbart era, Lefties are finding out the limits of this approach.

Wow, this is so dumb. Let me get this right: a blogger, with a tiny population of readers in the area, called Richey a recidivist. Richey didn’t like this and sued. Now his felony conviction, which had been wiped from the record, is public knowledge. I have never heard of any of the people involved, and I know thousands of miles away in the UK. It has been on the local news.

Forget the violence for now. Does anyone want to elect Democrats if they select a Political Director who is so stupid?

    As the attorney for Mr. Walker, I am impressed with the favorable press Mr. Walker is getting. If you go to Georgia Politics Unfiltered, you can get the latest news.

It’s a rather obvious SLAPP. Guys like this can’t really take on big blogs or other news sources, but they CAN make life miserable for the one-man operation that blogs because they are passionate. And those blogs are the ones that tend to dredge up information that eventually makes it to the larger blogs.

Everyone knows this lawsuit isn’t going anywhere, but in this case, the process is the punishment.

Gee, I admit and even go in depth about my criminal background, my time in federal prison as well as my efforts at redemption and reformation of self. I am also a very vocal critic of Brett Kimberlin and all others who continue their criminal behaviors. I hope that none of this bite me in the rump. I openly post my public email ddress as well as post my real name and a link to my wikipedia entry (as flawed, incomplete and biased as it is, I am not hiding it).

Given the difficulty of the case, why even assert the claim in the first place?

I wouldn’t call Walker a citizen-blogger. His involvement in politics is at least semi-professional:

He is a black former (low-ranking) Democrat who left the party. He just wrote a blog post titled Black Republicans Win in White Districts, But Black Dems Only Win in Black Districts. In effect, he is directly attacking the Democrat grip on the black vote, and the Left narrative that the GOP (in Georgia, yet) is r-r-r-racist!

It’s easy to google attacks on Walker by the Left. I view the lawsuit in the context of such attacks.

casualobserver | May 24, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Correct me if I’m wrong, but powerful entities, especially corporations, practice offensive law all the time with respect to trade secrets, intellectual property, etc. Many times lawsuits are brought with minimal basis only to cause expense on the part of the defendant as leverage. Might a less than “honorable” member, or wannabe member of the elected class try the same on civil matters?

[…] Jacobson reports on another case of Lawfare being used against a blogger, this time in […]

Thanks to Legal Insurrection for the quality analysis of this issue.

As I’ve said repeatedly, I told the truth when I revealed details of Georgia Democratic Party political director Rashad Richey’s troubled legal history.

And now I’m having to defend the truth in court.

I’ve set up a legal defense fund on my website, Georgia Politics Unfiltered (http://georgiaunfiltered.blogspot.com).

Look for the yellow “Donate” button on the top right-hand side of my blog.

Help defend the truth. Please make a donation today.

Andre

    casualobserver in reply to Andre Walker. | May 25, 2012 at 12:21 am

    I’m curious, is Richey receiving pro bono representation or are his costs covered in some other way besides his own money? It seems like a costly risk for him, too. Unless he is independently wealthy, perhaps.

This lawsuit is unwarranted and very probably has malicious intent. That seems to be the consensus among all those commenting.

If possible, Mr Walker should use the Georgia Abusive Litigation Act should be used to punish the offender as much as possible. This is an assault on free speech, so everyone should also promote (among state officials) stronger laws to permit very costly punishment for such attacks.

[…] see Bryan at Legal Insurrection, “Is conservative blogger in Georgia another victim of “lawfare”?“ While the conservative blogosphere is focused on Brett Kimberlin, there is another instance […]

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