Friday, February 15, 2013

Bloggers Rally to Defense of Defamation Defendant

I have previously written about Crystal Cox, a self-styled investigative blogger, who found herself on the receiving end of a judgment for $2.5 million after she posted caustic comments about a bankruptcy trustee.  You can find the prior post here.   One aspect of the District Court's opinion which raised my eyebrows was the court's stingy application of the media privilege.    Under the District Court's view, most bloggers would not be entitled to some of the protections available to the professional media.   

Apparently I was not the only one who thought this to be a strange result.   UCLA Professor Eugene Volokh, who blogs at the Volokh Conspiracy is representing Ms. Cox on a pro bono basis in her appeal to the Ninth Circuit., the leading Supreme Court blog, and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press have weighed in with amicus briefs.    

In an unusual twist, the Plaintiff sought to have the Sheriff levy upon and sell the Defendant's right to appeal.   By auctioning off the right to appeal, the Plaintiff could effectively insulate its judgment from judicial review.   Prof. Volokh successfully obtained an order from the District Court blocking this relief.   You can read about it in his own words here

I am pleased that the Plaintiff's nefarious tactic was rebuffed and that there are some serious amici weighing in.   This case raises important issues about the First Amendment protections applicable to the citizen media.