Folks we’re very gratified by the outpouring of support we’ve received in the comments here on Slabbed, on Twitter, from other journalists and the NOLA Blogosphere. We have a few stops to make this morning and we’ll begin with Val Bracy’s story which aired last night on Fox 8:
Jefferson Parish and Interim Parish President Steve Theriot filed suit Friday in order to get the identities of people who have written critical comments on two blogs. “I think the goal is to silence people that have been publishing very insightful commentary on the internet regarding the workings of parish government,” said Doug Handshoe, co-creator of the blog spot Slabbed. Handshoe and his partner started Slabbed in 2007 as an informational outlet for voters, mostly in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Thankfully the video report and “mug shot” did not make the WVUE website but Fox 8’s legal analyst Joe Raspanti was no doubt scratching his head (as were many others) as we continue:
Fox 8 legal analyst Joe Raspanti says Theriot and the parish will have a tough time on two fronts: Nola.com and Slabbed are not likely to give up their commenters’ information easily and proving the case may not be easy either.
“It’s tougher if you’re a public figure because a public figure has to prove that not only was it a lie, or is incorrect, but they have to prove that you knew it and maliciously said it anyway,” said Raspanti.
Handshoe says the lawsuit won’t effect how he runs his blog.
“It’s the taxpayers money in Jefferson Parish that’s funding the suit, which I think is designed to intimidate bloggers and internet commenters into silence regarding the political corruptions scandal that’s ongoing in the parish,” said Handshoe.
Dambala at American Zombie has been here, done this and he wrote a post where he gives Mr Theriot some friendly blogger to politician advice. Here is a snippet:
I have a friend who grew up somewhere in the middle of the gret stet. He once told me a story about an enterprising sheriff from his home parish who decided he was going to convert the local public pool into a catfish farm. He had all the free labor he needed from parish inmates…figured all he had to do was fill that cement pond up with catfish and he’d be pulling in the dough. So he rounded up a bunch of young whiskerlips and dumped ’em in the pool. You know what I’m going to say next don’t you? Yeah…he didn’t de-chlorinate it so he ended up with a nice stinky mess on his hands.
I used to think that was the dumbest thing a Louisiana public official ever did.
Well, I guess I underestimated Steve Theriot.
It gets better as Dambala rightfully wonders why the gang focuses on a frivolous defamation suit against anonymous bloggers instead of the Oil coming in thanks to BP’s little fuck up as we continue:
In case you didn’t get the fucking memo….you have a catastrophic situation on your hands. I’m just wondering how you guys currently have the time to draft a lawsuit against bloggers and website commenters. Was that something you knocked off between disaster preparedness and rebidding insurance contracts?
I’m also wondering who the fucking idiots were who thought that was a good idea. Do you even realize what you’re attempting to do? Any chance of success you have in this lawsuit would have to be heard by the Supreme Court….and I got news for you, brah…you ain’t gonna make it half that far. I suppose you could try and spring Bodenheimer and buy a judgment in your favor, I’m sure J.P. still has some judges on the royal payroll…but whoever the parish attorney was who told you to move forward with this probably should have checked with a real attorney or even a law student before he/she convinced you to try and hold back the sea, King Canute.
In looking for the NOLA.com news story link on Damabala’s scrape with that punk ass NOLA assistant city attorney Bob Ellis I ran across another of Dambala’s older posts which I thought was a hoot given that Lawrence Zeilinger name showed up in the comments to the post and it was no doubt Lawrence’s use of the term “skank” that was the final straw for the Yenni gang as we visit with Dambala again:
……..Four important hurdles he has to overcome to prevail to win such a ridiculous “libel” lawsuit are (1) He has the burden of proof to show the alleged defamatory statements made by Jason Berry are untrue; (2) He also has the burden to show that those statements caused him pecuniary (money) damage; (3) He has the huge burden of showing he is not a public figure and therefore just a regular John Q. Public, whose burden in a libel suit is far less than that of a public figure; (4) He must show deliberate malice by Mr. Berry. Of course, lawyers are often liars who drive defendants to despair and bankruptcy out of their own sheer malice. Mr. Ellis is a bully — and a thug. Let him come after me with a lawsuit. The good thing about Louisiana law, as with the British system, is that losers in civil litigation are subject to being throttled with Motions to Pay Court Costs. And any such lawsuit, based on the four mentioned points, is easily dismissable under Article 863 of the Louisiana Civil Code, which addresses the matter of improper and frivolous lawsuits……..
Lawrence doesn’t sound like he is a very hard man to find and from the sound of things the politicos in Jefferson Parish know where to find him.
Finally, I’d be remiss by not thanking Mr Theriot and the gang on the Parish Council that authorized this lawsuit for the free publicity which Val Bracy also passed along for me last night on the news. And take it from this old cyber salt when I add the very act of filing suit makes people think you have something to hide. Believe it or not I’ve never hid behind Sop. After Katrina when I cut back on financial blogging in favor of becoming a citizen activist I kept my old finance handle so the money managers, hedge fund operators, and others could easily follow me. On the finance boards where there is money on the line bloggers that can make good points often become targets from those on the other side of a trade or management. Take it from me, sometimes it gets old wearing a bullseye. Mr Theriot and this SLAPP suit placed one on every elected official in Jefferson Parish.
The NOLA Defender has picked up coverage of this story. Thanks guys we mucho appreciate the mention.
Chris, a gentleman I’ve known since he was a kid that also sometimes writes for Saints Report.com is still in the dark on this one but we still managed to garner a mention there. Thanks MB!
Not long ago I concluded a telephone interview with Rich Rainey at the Times Picayune and it appears they will be reporting this story. Also the gang at Fox 8 has the video report up from last night’s story. WordPress does not support Dayport Video so I can’t embed it here.