Lawyer Threatens Another Lawyer With Defamation Lawsuit If Old Blog Post Loaded With Facts Isn't Removed Immediately

from the libelslander dept

After pretty much vanishing from the public eye, Paul Ceglia’s (he of the “I own 50% of Facebook” lawsuit) former attorney, Dean Boland, has resurfaced. Considering his handling of the issue that has prompted his reemergence into the public eye, he would have been better served by staying off the Google radar.

A few years back, Dean Boland made a good point in court, but made it badly.

Attorney Dean Boland purchased innocent pictures of two juvenile girls from a Canadian stock-image website, then digitally modified them to make it appear as if the children were engaged in sexual conduct.

Boland was an expert witness for the defense in a half-dozen child porn cases and made the mock-ups to punctuate his argument that child pornography laws are unconstitutionally overbroad because they could apply to faked photos.

This resulted in a $300,000 judgment against Boland as the result of a lawsuit brought by the two people whose images were used to create the mocked-up child porn. Scott Greenfield offered his commentary on the issue, using the above quotes from a Wired article. He also added additional commentary based on the Sixth Circuit Appeals Court ruling, noting that Boland had entered into a deferred prosecution agreement.

Boland is now objecting to both of these quotes from Greenfield’s 2012 article. In an email sent to the lawyer, Boland is demanding the removal of facts under the theory that they’re somehow defamatory.

Mr. Greenfield:

Your article at this link contains false and defamatory statements that I am demanding be revised or the entire article removed.

By way of summary, you cite to a Wired article and quote as follows: “Boland was an expert witness for the defense in a half-dozen child porn cases and made the mock-ups to punctuate his argument that child pornography laws are unconstitutionally overbroad because they could apply to faked photos.”

This quoted statement is false. The exhibits were not used for that purpose at all. This statement is false and defamatory and is causing me professional financial harm which is calculable.

This statement in the article is defamatory and false: “As a result, in 2007 he found himself the defendant in a deferred federal child-porn prosecution in Ohio….” I have never been involved in any prosecution, never been a defendant in a criminal matter and have maintained good standing as a lawyer in Ohio with a no discipline record. I did not enter into any agreement called a “deferred prosecution agreement” nor even words to that effect. This statement is false and defamatory and damaging to my professional reputation.

“Given that Boland was prosecuted (even though it resulted in a deferred prosecution)” Again, this is a false statement. I was never prosecuted for any conduct in this case nor any other. I never entered a deferred prosecution agreement with the government. This statement is defamatory and causing me real, financial harm which is calculable.

I am demanding that this article be revised to correct these and other errors or removed entirely within ten days. Please advise as to your decision so that I can proceed accordingly if a satisfactory result is not obtained.

Dean Boland

Greenfield notes that Boland originally approached him earlier and in a much less litigious fashion, asking him to consider removing it because the issue was long since settled. While Greenfield was sympathetic, he pointed out that coverage still existed elsewhere, including at Wired — the article Greenfield had quoted from.

By approaching me as a human being, rather than a dumbass, I was sympathetic to his problem. But it wasn’t that simple, as mine was only one of a number of posts about him and his child porn problems, including Courthouse News and the ABA Journal. So there was no point in my removing a post (something I’m loath to do) if the others remained.

Apparently, Boland is having no success asking anyone to remove articles pertaining to the 2012 appeals court decision. Perhaps his plan was to threaten the smallest fish in the internet pond first. But going after another attorney isn’t the wisest move, even if an individual seems more likely to respond favorably to legal threats than larger entities like Wired and the Wall Street Journal.

Boland’s threats, however, have at least two insurmountable problems. First, the supposedly defamatory material in Greenfield’s post is actually direct quotes of other sources, including an appeals court decision. But that’s just the beginning. Even if Boland had managed to find defamatory material in Greenfield’s 2012 blog post, he’d still be out of legal options.

When I received his threat yesterday, I sent it off to Marc Randazza, who was also sympathetic to Boland for having suffered the indignity of his stupidity. He sent a nice, very lawyerly, letter explaining the law to Boland and why his threat was mind-numbingly stupid on every level.

The funny part is that Boland is so clueless that he doesn’t realize that he failed the most basic of all legal issues, that he’s blown the one year Statute of Limitations, even if there was defamation. There isn’t, but his bluff doesn’t pass the smell test of a first year law student.

Protip: Don’t send a threatening email to a lawyer that conclusively proves your incompetence. It rarely ends well.

And that could have been the end of it. If Boland hadn’t insisted on doubling-down on his dumbassery, it might have remained between him, Scott Greenfield and Marc Randazza. But he refused to back down, despite his legal threats containing not a single bit of credibility.

Rather than appreciate Randazza’s display of kindness, Boland came back with the sort of response one would expect from someone who gets their legal advice from Reddit, that Randazza’s letter didn’t prove that the statements were true.

“Your prompt response, while detailed about the law, is devoid of evidence that the claims made in the article are in fact accurate or true. This is not surprising since they [sic] statements within the article are not in fact true. As of my notice earlier today, your client is now on notice that the article contains materially false statements. Should he persist in leaving the post online, unedited or corrected to conform the statements to the truth, I will have no choice but to seek court intervention to accomplish that result.”

I assume Boland is referring to the very special Internet Court of Moon Law, which generally seems to be receptive to bogus legal arguments predicated on a person’s stubborn belief that they are right despite all evidence to the contrary.

Because of this, Boland’s connection to a bizarre fake child porn case isn’t going to sink to latter pages of Google search results any time soon. It’s one thing to ask nicely for a favor. It’s quite another to baselessly demand internet denizens bend to your will. The first tactic may rarely result in granted favors, but it’s far less likely to result in the mass exhumation of corpses you hoped would stay buried.

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Comments on “Lawyer Threatens Another Lawyer With Defamation Lawsuit If Old Blog Post Loaded With Facts Isn't Removed Immediately”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Notice the original Scott Greenfield post is dated Nov 11, 2012, and now it’s barely 2 weeks away from the 3 year mark. Did Boland think there was a 3 year statute of limitations? Even if there was dafamation, which there isn’t. Or is he trying for the EU’s right to be forgotten stupidity?

A 3 year old post that everyone had mostly forgotten about, or never even knew about to begin with, that contains nothing but facts.
Maybe he just can’t stand fading away into obsurity. Instead of letting it remain forgotten and unknown, he as pointed the entire world’s attention to it, and this time he apparently wants to make sure that world+dog knows about it.

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