November 4, 2019
MSNBC host Joy Reid helped lead a Twitter hate mob against Trump supporter Roslyn La Liberte and also smeared her on Instagram and Facebook but a New York federal judge absolved Reid of all responsibility after claiming La Liberte was a “limited purpose public figure instead of a private figure” because she spoke at some city council meetings.
In her Sept. 30 decision, U.S. District Court Judge Dora Irizarry ruled that Section 230 did not bar plaintiff’s claims.
The judge referred to the allegation that Reid had “altered” what Vargas had originally tweeted. The activist attributed “dirty Mexican” to what “they” had called the boy; Reid was “the very first person to put [racial slurs] in [La Liberte’s] mouth.”
So how did the MSNBC host beat the defamation claims anyway?
Contrary to the expectation of some legal experts consulted by The Hollywood Reporter upon the filing of the lawsuit, the judge deemed La Liberte to be a limited purpose public figure instead of a private figure.
She “injected herself into the public controversy,” wrote the judge. “The Court takes judicial notice of the fact that Plaintiff attended and spoke about SB 54 at multiple city council meetings around the State of California.”
Given that she was deemed to be a public figure, La Liberte had to show Reid acted with actual malice — that is, knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard for the truth. That wiped out at least the claim over Reid’s first Instagram post.
“The June 29th Post was based, at least, in part on the initial account of the interaction as stated by Alan Vargas,” states the opinion. “However, the Amended Complaint is void of any allegations that Defendant knew or could infer that Vargas’ account of the interaction was inaccurate. Thus, there is no indication that Defendant had any serious doubts about the veracity of the information used in creating the June 29th Post.”
[…] And the judge didn’t merely dismiss La Liberte’s complaint for failing to set forth provable facts necessary to sustain a viable defamation claim.
No, this New York federal judge decided that it was perfectly appropriate to strike the suit under California’s anti-SLAPP statute, which is meant to deter frivolous actions aimed at impeding public participation.
Meaning, La Liberte shows up at a public meeting to debate public policy. She becomes a public figure who a judge decides can’t show actual malice after a journalist accepts the word of a tweet at face value. And her effort to go to court over how she was characterized participating at this meeting is deemed as interfering with this journalist’s First Amendment rights.
Now, pursuant to California’s anti-SLAPP statute, La Liberte has to pay Reid’s attorneys fees and costs.
The full opinion is here […]
As mentioned above, a notice of appeal was filed Tuesday.
Roslyn La Liberte’s attorney, L. Lin Wood, predicted the ruling would be reversed and the case would be “corrected on appeal.”
Erroneous rulings on critical defamation issues of (1) public figure status (2) opinion v. fact & (3) application of state anti-SLAPP in federal court demand that trial court order be reversed & corrected on appeal. https://t.co/LRAanzgZ3u
— Lin Wood (@LLinWood) October 31, 2019
Wood’s libel case against the Washington Post on behalf of Nick Sandmann was reopened last week.
This article was posted: Monday, November 4, 2019 at 6:22 am