Herman Cain’s Libel and Defamation Lawyer
Lin Wood will be watching very carefully. Every word they say, every charge they make, every news conference they hold. Not to intimidate but to “monitor the accusations…and respond accordingly,” according to the Reuters news service.
As if it were not already a gut-wrenching decision that opens you up to scrutiny, notoriety and the surrender of all personal privacy, if you are one of the women who swear Herman Cain once acted inappropriately and crossed the line in regard to workplace behavior, you can now add the risk of financial ruin by lawsuit to your list of concerns for going public.
Coincidently, the news conference that had been planned by Cain’s accusers is now off.
I don’t doubt that Atlanta attorney Lin Wood feels very strongly about false accusations against anybody. I do too. He’s worked for a number of folks who were absolutely falsely accused, like Richard Jewel, the poor fellow who was connected by many media organizations to the Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta in 1996 that he had nothing to do with.
And though he has represented many other clients, the Jewel case is instructive. The guy was no public figure. He was a security guard living a normal, anonymous life. Herman Cain, however, is quite the public figure.
Surely, Mr. Wood is well aware of the incredibly high bar American law has set for successfully pressing a defamation suit against someone who exercises their 1st Amendment rights to write or make a claim about a public figure. There must be “actual malice” to the accusation. It has to be knowingly false and show a reckless disregard for the truth.
Lin Wood knows all this. Perhaps, more importantly, anyone contemplating going public in regard to Mr. Cain, should also know this. If your accusations are true, you are safe. If they’re not and you’re lying to bring someone down, then you deserve whatever you get.
I am not advocating anybody hold a news conference. It’s none of my business. But just as I abhorred the actions of Redskins owner, Daniel Snyder, when he demanded a retraction of a critical article from a small, local newspaper threatening litigation that could bankrupt them, Lin Wood seems to be walking a very fine line between sage counselor and 1st Amendment bully.
The threat of litigation to silence free expression against public figures seems antithetical both to American values and to existing law. Wood says his hiring by Herman Cain is not meant to “scare, intimidate or threaten anyone from making statements.”
But he also says this in regard to making public accusations:
Anyone should think twice before you take that type of action. And I think it’s particularly true when you are making serious accusations against someone running for president of the United States, but I think it’s equally true if you are making those accusations against your next door neighbor.
You be the judge whether his “think twice” statement is meant to scare, intimidate or threaten.
From a purely legal standpoint he has a strong case to make against those who would publicly accuse their “next door neighbor.” He has an exceptionally weak case for taking legal action against those who speak or write about someone, especially someone who is running for president of the United States.