Originally posted 2009-11-17 12:57:34. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

No “free speech absolutist” I, I like defamation as a cause of action when you can prove its elements, and I’m glad to see it hasn’t been completely eliminated by judges who raise the bar plaintiffs must overcome to impossible heights on imagined constitutional grounds. Maybe it helps if the plaintiff himself is a judge. Well, that works for me, too, as long as the next guy can take advantage of the precedent, and the climate, that an unaccustomed degree of actual responsibility for what you write and publish is imposed, as in days of old. Whether offline (if there is really still such a thing, or if it matters) or online.

Courtroom, Newark historic courthouse

As the link indicates, however, that doesn’t mean that a plaintiff with a meritorious claim is entitled to violate ethics rules — especially if he’s a judge. I’m “with that,” too. Evidently, after getting his jury verdict for $2M against the Boston Herald, Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Ernest Murphy allegedly wrote the paper a letter demanding a substantial amount more “or else.” One letter was supposedly written on court stationery — very bad.

This is only the filing of charges, not a determination of wrongdoing. I mean, I’d better be careful what I say. This guy does sue people. And win. Hat tip to Overlawyered.

By Ron Coleman

LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION blog author Ron Coleman is a member of Dhillon Law Group in their New York City and Montclair, New Jersey offices. He is a graduate of Northwestern University School of Law and Princeton University.

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