While allegations of sexual misconduct against powerful men in recent weeks have drawn wide public support and prompted quick response, women who came forward during the presidential race with accusations against Donald J. Trump said they spent the past year feeling dismissed and forgotten.
“With Trump, it was all brushed under the rug,” said Temple Taggart, who claimed Mr. Trump kissed her on the mouth when she was competing in his Miss USA pageant in 1997.
But that could change if a defamation lawsuit brought by a woman who accused Mr. Trump of unwanted sexual advances is allowed to proceed in New York State Supreme Court, a legal ruling that could come before the end of the year. Lawyers in the suit sought a subpoena seeking all Trump campaign records related to his female accusers. If the case advances, the accusers could be deposed, going up against Mr. Trump yet again.
The court also isn't impressed with Resolute trying to turn clear statements of opinion into pretend "facts."
In its quest to describe Greenpeace‟s statements as matters of fact instead of opinion, Resolute often takes an overly literal approach to obviously overemphatic speech. For instance, Resolute refers to a Greenpeace campaign that describes Resolute as a Canadian Boreal “Forest Destroyer.” ... Resolute‟s claim depends on construing the word “destroy” to mean “annihilate” or “eliminate completely.” In this vein, Resolute‟s expert witness Peter Reich states, “Resolute has not destroyed, and is not destroying, the boreal forest. Because almost all harvested stands grow back to boreal forest, Defendants‟ claims about Resolute‟s forest "destruction‟ cannot be true.”...
As any reader of Greenpeace's statements will know, these are not the only permissible constructions. The word “destroy” is a perennial instrument of hyperbole. See, e.g., Edward Barsamian, “Gigi Hadid Takes on the New Look of Destroyed Denim,” Vogue (Feb. 3, 2015) (on-line ed.) (https://www.vogue.com/article/gigi-hadid-style-destroyed-denim). The Vogue writer here does not intend to convey that Ms. Barsamian's jeans have been completely annihilated, but merely that they are “worn with deliberate tears at the knee” or “riddled with curious new holes.” Similarly, when the entertainment writer Shaunee Flowers states that “Kanye West destroys Wiz Khalifa on Twitter and it's epic,” she is not suggesting that Mr. West has actually eliminated Mr. Khalifa, but only that he has made disparaging comments about him on social media....
Yes. A judge in a RICO lawsuit about environmental protests is discussing Kanye West twitter battles. We live in such amazing times.
In a lawsuit against Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, Seattle Police officers Scott Miller and Michael Spaulding allege that her intemperate characterization of Che Taylor’s death as “brutal murder” defamed them. But, whatever reputational damage they feel they’ve incurred, and whether or not you agree with Sawant’s assessment of their actions, her claim is not defamatory.
Nonetheless she must face an onerous trial process in order to defend her First Amendment rights. That she will have to is an unnecessary burden on speech that would be easily avoided if Washington had an anti-SLAPP law in place....
The distinction between saying that someone is a convicted murderer, which Sawant did not do, and criticizing authority figures for acting murderously, which Sawant did do, is the difference between a defamatory lie and protected political criticism. The heart of the dispute between the officers and Sawant therefore isn’t about facts. Che Taylor was shot and killed that day — everyone agrees. When they confronted him, the officers were acting in their capacity as public officials.
In an effort to show bad-faith on the part of Sawant, the officers’ complaint lists Sawant’s countercultural cachet as proof that her statements were improper. They note that she spoke as a “voice for working people” arrayed against the “system,” and that her opposition to law enforcement is “one of Sawant’s most effective political tools.” What they do not do, however, is allege that Sawant’s behavior was actually malicious; the standard which they will have to prove in order to win their defamation case.
In fact, that the officers’ lawsuit frames Councilmember Sawant’s speech in terms of public opinion and political rhetoric, exposes their own inappropriate motives. When they concede that Sawant’s constituents approve of her firebrand skepticism towards law enforcement, and then complain that the court should silence her for it, they’re asking a judge to overrule the will of the people who elected Sawant.
Their solution lies with the ballot box, not the gavel.
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