If you haven’t heard Ray McBerry (GOP) is suing the owners of a blog.  You can find a lot of the back story here. The story starts at the 4th paragraph. I doubt this is the first time a blogger has been sued but it is the first I have heard about it. I was waiting for blogger  and former Mark Sanford mouthpiece Will Folks from South Carolina to get smacked with a lawsuit from Nikki Haley after he said they were having an affair. But it looks like McBerry beat her to the punch. I really don’t know what to make of this lawsuit and was hoping to hear from some of those lawyering types that hang out here if it has any legs.


12 Responses to When lawsuits hit the netroots…

  1. JMPrince says:

    We just gets the craziest! We can hope for a summary judgment from one of our finer so & so’s? JMP

  2. JMPrince says:

    Didn’t’ we see a Fox 5 TV report on this deal where the young (now newly married woman) went to great lengths to say that the relationship did in fact happen when she was underage, and that she a.) certainly thought it was coercive and b.) deeply regretted it?

    Ergo, as with much of Ga. politics, is this not a peculiar kind of madness? Just wondering. JMP

    • Sara says:

      Yes, but she was 16 when she said it happened so she did not fit the definition of child molestation by Georgia statute. Many pointed this out to Jeff but he refused to admit that the situation as described by the alleged victim could not be legally defined as child molestation. He even insisted on my blog that she was like a child because she was under 18, and I corrected him that this made her a minor but not a child by legal definition.

      That said, you need to be a special kind of crazy to file a lawsuit against someone for calling you a child molester when the record is pretty clear that you had an inappropriate relationship with a former student that resulted in a restraining order being issued against you and resulted in you sending a long letter to the girl’s parents apologizing for all the bad things you did and resulted in you no longer having your teaching license in Georgia…because filing that lawsuit will just remind everyone of the established icky parts of this whole deal. I guess if you’re Ray McBerry, though, you just figure what the hell else do you have to lose? It’s not like your reputation is sterling at this point.

  3. Sara says:

    The really interesting part of this is that accusing someone of being a child molester qualifies as defamation per se, so the bloggers could really be up shit’s creek for saying McBerry is a child molester, particularly because numerous people pointed out that was inaccurate under the legal definition but Jeff refused to take it down. (Thus even if McBerry is a public figure, he probably can easily establish knowing falsity or reckless disregard for the truth.) Their only hope may be to prove that he did molest a child–something I am not sure they can prove.

    Assuming it is negligence per se and the court finds knowing falsity, the only question to be decided would be damages. How many people read SWGApolitics and that particular post after it went up? (Couple hundred?) How much did these reports hurt McBerry’s reputation? (It was pretty crappy before wasn’t it?) Probably not huge dollars.

    A little legal primer for the uninitiated: http://www.citmedialaw.org/legal-guide/georgia-defamation-law

  4. BEZERKO says:

    Does this mean David Souter is going to sue Eric Erickson for libel?

  5. griftdrift says:

    Probably not libel based on the Sullivan standard (very high), but in my opinion, unethical

    • Sara says:

      Assuming Sullivan applies to bloggers, which has not been established in Georgia as far as I know. Maybe this will be the test case.

      And weren’t you the one telling Jeff it was defamation all along to call him a child molester? I haven’t seen the Complaint yet but if it is limited to that statement, then McBerry’s case is stronger than if he goes after the whole sordid story of the girl he may or may not have boinked. (Still don’t see how he gets any money from anyone, though.)

      • griftdrift says:

        I believe my exact quote was “He proceeded to come as close to libel as any blog ever by calling someone a “child molestor” and quoting a section of law which did not apply.”

        I don’t remember my exact comments on his blog other than where I pointed out he cited then incorrect section of law and he still refused to remove it.

      • griftdrift says:

        As far as the money thing, crazy people don’t care about money, they just want to make a point.

        Which McBerry could have done more effectively and much cheaper by having a lawyer fire off a cease and desist which would have likely caused the hosting service to bring the thing down while they “reviewed the situation”.

  6. Sara says:

    When McBerry first started threatening to sue the girl’s mother and the SWGAPolitics blog in May, I wrote here about why I thought it would never happen.


    Obviously, I was wrong. But I still think it’s going to end up being a mistake that goes nowhere for McBerry. First, does he really want to engage in discovery in the form of depositions about exactly what took place between him and this girl, how old she was, etc.? Truth is a defense and one the defendants are entitled to discovery about.

    Of course, that discovery is expensive for all concerned, so maybe folks will decide an apology and retraction would do just fine.

    (Personally, I am just shocked McBerry found a lawyer willing to take this case…and I suspect the lawyer won’t be pursuing the litigation aggressively because he’s either taken it on contingency and knows he likely won’t recover anything, or he’s being paid by the hour by McBerry who has not much in the way of fundage.)

    Defamation suits are rarely financially advantageous to pursue except against media outlets or really rich folks.

  7. Gunner says:

    I didn’t know about that.

  8. Jason says:

    Don’t forget the threat of a lawsuit against THIS blog from a certain GOP candidate…