First Amendment Rights Protected

Pro Advocate Radio is needed as a Voice for Families, Children and for Professionals Committed to Resolving Conflict in ways that Serve the Needs of Children.

For bloggers, citizen journalists advocacy groups, etc.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2014/01/20/defamation-bloggers-supreme-court/4658295/

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — A federal appeals court ruled Friday that bloggers and the public have the same First Amendment protections as journalists when sued for defamation: If the issue is of public concern, plaintiffs have to prove negligence to win damages.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new trial in a defamation lawsuit brought by an Oregon bankruptcy trustee against a Montana blogger who wrote online that the court-appointed trustee criminally mishandled a bankruptcy case.

The appeals court ruled that the trustee was not a public figure, which could have invoked an even higher standard of showing the writer acted with malice, but the issue was of public concern, so the negligence standard applied.

Gregg Leslie of the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press said the ruling affirms what many have long argued: Standards set by a 1974 U.S. Supreme Courtruling, Gertz v. Robert Welch Inc., apply to everyone, not just journalists.

“It’s not a special right to the news media,” he said. “So it’s a good thing for bloggers and citizen journalists and others.”

Crystal L. Cox, a blogger from Eureka, Mont., now living in Port Townshend, Wash., was sued for defamation by Bend attorney Kevin Padrick and his company, Obsidian Finance Group LLC, after she made posts on several websites she created accusing them of fraud, corruption, money-laundering and other illegal activities. The appeals court noted Padrick and Obsidian were hired by Summit Accommodators to advise them before filing for bankruptcy, and that the U.S. Bankruptcy Court later appointed Padrick trustee in the Chapter 11 case. The court added that Summit had defrauded investors in its real estate operations through a Ponzi scheme.

A jury in 2011 had awarded Padrick and Obsidian $2.5 million.

“Because Cox’s blog post addressed a matter of public concern, even assuming that Gertz is limited to such speech, the district court should have instructed the jury that it could not find Cox liable for defamation unless it found that she acted negligently,” judge Andrew D. Hurwitz wrote. “We hold that liability for a defamatory blog post involving a matter of public concern cannot be imposed without proof of fault and actual damages.”

The appeals court upheld rulings by the District Court that other posts by Cox were constitutionally protected opinion.

Though Cox acted as her own attorney, UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, who had written an article on the issue, learned of her case and offered to represent her in an appeal. Volokh said such cases usually end up settled without trial, and it was rare for one to reach the federal appeals court level.

“It makes clear that bloggers have the same First Amendment rights as professional journalists,” he said. “There had been similar precedents before concerning advocacy groups, other writers and book authors. This follows a fairly well established chain of precedents. I believe it is the first federal appeals court level ruling that applies to bloggers.”

An attorney for Padrick said in an email that while they were disappointed in the ruling, they noted the court found “there was no dispute that the statements were false and defamatory.”

“Ms. Cox’s false and defamatory statements have caused substantial damage to our clients, and we are evaluating our options with respect to the court’s decision,” wrote Steven M. Wilker.

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Walk the Line…Together

If a judge said to you, “You are walking the line” in speaking up to protect your child, would you back off of that line? Or would you gather an army around you to push THROUGH and over that line, if that’s what it takes to save your child?

Stop_Child_Abuse_Family_Court_Fulton_County

Please study “The Dome” case and decide if you believe it’s ok to tell a protective parent – mom or dad – that he or she should mind their manners and stay off the “line” of confronting abuse and foul play in court.

Forbes on Bankruptcy After Divorce

“Some people are pushed into bankruptcy by their former spouse. Let’s say they owned a house together but they either don’t want to sell it (because they want the children to keep living there) or they can’t sell it because it’s upside down. One of them agrees to pay the mortgage; it might be the spouse who lives there, or it might be the ex who is supporting him or her. But the mortgage doesn’t get paid. Maybe that spouse eventually files for bankruptcy, and the other one ends up having to file in order to keep the house and catch up on payments, or to discharge their responsibility for the remaining loan.”

What this Forbes article does not spell out is that professional misconduct plays a large role in ensuring that at least one of the parties doesn’t make it – meaning they are not able to maintain stability, to prosper, and to give the best they have to their children. Their best has been undermined and taken away. Many mothers and fathers are filing bankruptcy following divorce and child custody cases, but we believe much of this loss could be avoided.

Avoid BankruptcyWhen you review billing records and communications with child custody experts and between attorneys, you can see that, unfortunately, this is intentional in some cases. It is these cases we refer to when we ask authorities to review cases.

Forbes contributor Emma Johnson makes a sound argument here for paying attention to your credit score and working to protect yourself, but make sure you’re aware of the diligence needed in selecting professionals who will not aim for breaking the bank – your bank – in your family law or child custody case.

Financial matters are a key focus for our professionals belonging to our Resource Directory and for those featured on Pro Advocate Radio.

 

Check out ProAdvocateRadio.com to learn more from one of our financial advisors, Wendy Hayes. Wendy is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst and is committed to helping families reset priorities so that their financial resources and time are preserved for themselves and for their children. Listen here to Wendy’s sound counsel.

What does Connecticut say about RICO and Family Law?

The state of Connecticut has now started a formal investigation into the bad practices involved in certain family law practices, at least that’s how it’s explained by citizens who have been reporting to legislators and who were able to engage the FBI in a major way.

Here is what some of the testimony is about.