Orlando Police Chief Threatens Critical Blogger, Saying Truth Isn't A Defense

from the oh-really? dept

We've seen plenty of government officials get upset about various things critics have said about them, and Tim writes in to let us know that down in Orlando, Florida, the local police chief is threatening to sue a web critic who put up a site highlighting how the chief had her gun stolen from her car, and then that news was kept secret for a while. While there are some complications here (the site the blogger is using is the chief's name, ValDemings.com, for example), it's hard to see how there's any defamation here at all, despite the Chief's claims. She does claim that he portrayed the situation in "false light," but as the article notes, the Florida Supreme Court recently ruled that "false light isn't a legitimate cause of action and has the potential to chill free speech."

But what may be most scary is the following quote from Demings' attorney:
"Truth is not always a defense. I hope he [Harris] gets himself a really good lawyer."
While it's true that some have been trying to push the boundaries of libel law to get rid of "truth" as an absolute defense, that troubles most people, and it's hardly common. Of course, in the meantime, in trying to shut up this blogger, Demings seems to be doing a great job kicking up a lot of attention about the fact she lost her gun...
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Filed Under: bloggers, defamation, orlando, truth, val demings


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  1. identicon
    BTR1701, 1 May 2009 @ 8:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: fair libel trial?

    > I think the judge will side with the chief
    > not because he/she is afraid of her but
    > because they're sort of on the same team
    > and are likely to be friends or at least
    > know each other fairly well. More of a
    > you scratch my back and I'll scratch
    > yours type setup really.

    That might be true if this were a criminal case, but a defamation case is civil, which means a whole different pool of judges are involved-- judges who rarely ever interact with the police department.

    The police chief is unlikely to even know very many civil court judges, let alone pull favors from them. And from the judge's perspective, there wouldn't be any real reason to expect the police chief to be able to "scratch his back" in the future in return for a favor, since a civil court judge doesn't deal with police issues at all.

    And when it's all said and done, the case is decided by a jury anyway, not a judge.

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