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Herman Cain’s Libel and Defamation Lawyer

November 11, 2011 1 comment

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.

Has Daniel Snyder Lost His Mind?

February 3, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve been trying very hard not to write about Daniel Snyder’s lawsuit against the City Paper. I feel like Sylvester with Tweety Bird; a tasty little morsel flying all around my head and I’m trying to be good, I am….but I.. Just. Can’t. Help. Myself.

Have you read the actual lawsuit? It’s amazing. Here’s what the Redskins owner alleges has occurred to him because a guy most of us have never heard of wrote a critical article back in November in a publication most of us don’t read….until now, of course.

Listed under the “First Cause of Action” on Page 9 of the lawsuit:

…Mr. Snyder has suffered general and special damages in an amount of not less than One Million Dollars ($1,000,000), including damage to Mr. Snyder’s reputation and standing in the community, shame, mortification, hurt feelings, embarrassment, humiliation, damage to peace of mind, emotional distress and injury in his occupation.

Oh My God. Someone hurt the feelings of the owner of the Washington Redskins. For this- he literally wants to “stop the presses.” At least it’s certainly implied in the lawyer-letter that came to City Paper’s ownership group shortly after the publication of the article in November from Redskins General Counsel, David Donovan:

Mr. Snyder has more than sufficient means to protect his reputation and defend himself and his wife against your paper’s concerted attempt at character assassination. We presume that defending such litigation would not be a rational strategy for an investment fund such as yours. Indeed, the cost of litigation would presumably quickly outstrip the asset value of the Washington City Paper.

Really, now? A commentary about a public figure merits a threat to put a news publication out of business by what some may perceive as a frivolous law suit? I say frivolous, because no matter what could possibly have been said about Mr. Snyder- have you ever read the decision in Jerry Falwell vs Larry Flynt? Trust me on this one. City Paper did not come anywhere NEAR what Larry Flynt wrote about Jerry Falwell in Hustler magazine some 25 years ago. Flynt won.

And the law suit demands that this be decided by a jury trial. As this is being litigated in New York City, can you just imagine the scenario of a bunch of New York Giants fans sitting in judgment about the alleged business practices of the owner of the arch-rival Washington Redskins?

I don’t want to go out on a limb here, but I do believe someone is being just a little thin-skinned.

But as long as we’re talking law suits…what about a class action from 3.5 million Washington Redskins fans against the club’s owner, seeking monetary damages for deceptive representation of said NFL team as a “professional franchise?”

Jury trial…right here in ‘ol DC.