Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Blogger Beware

One would think common sense would dictate whether one would engage in libel on the blogosphere, but then again ...

The legal battles over blogging and message board postings are unfolding on several fronts:

•In Washington, D.C., former U.S. Senate aide Jessica Cutler was sued for invasion of privacy by Robert Steinbuch, also a former Senate aide, after Cutler posted a blog in 2004 describing their sexual escapades. The blog, titled Washingtonienne, was viewed widely after it was cited by a Washington gossip website called Wonkette. In July, Steinbuch added Wonkette to the lawsuit.

•Todd Hollis, a criminal defense lawyer in Pittsburgh, has filed a libel suit against a website called, which includes message boards in which women gossip about men they supposedly dated. One posting on the site accused Hollis of having herpes. Another said he had infected a woman he once dated with a sexually transmitted disease. Yet another said he was gay. Hollis, 38, who says the accusations are false, is suing the site's operator, Tasha Joseph, and the posters of the messages.

•Anna Draker, a high school assistant principal in San Antonio, filed a defamation and negligence lawsuit against two students and their parents after a hoax page bearing her name, photo and several lewd comments and graphics appeared on, the popular social networking website.

Update on LA Homeless

There's more than one way to solve the homeless problem.

Now that the Los Angeles City Council has voted down an agreement between the city and the ACLU concerning the homeless, the LAPD, with the blessing of the city attorney, has resumed arresting people sleeping on city streets during the day.

The LA Times reports:
Police Chief William J. Bratton said he authorized the arrests after the L.A. city attorney's office issued a legal opinion saying that officers could arrest homeless people who slept on skid row's streets during the day.

But the new tactics were met with concern from some L.A. council members as well as the American Civil Liberties Union, which has aggressively challenged the city's efforts to remove the homeless camps.

Catherine Lhamon, racial justice director of the ACLU of Southern California, questioned whether the arrests made Tuesday are allowed under an April federal appeals court ruling that struck down the city's ban on people sleeping on streets and sidewalks.

Over-zealous Agent Facing Lawsuit

A Golden, Colorado, man has filed a federal lawsuit against a Secret Service agent for "unlawful seizure, unlawful search and retaliation for exercising his constitutional right to free speech."

According to the Denver Post:
Steven Howards, 54, a consultant to non-profit organizations, was vacationing with his family in Beaver Creek when he spotted Cheney in an outdoor mall shaking hands and posing for photos. Howards and his son walked over and told Cheney that his policies in Iraq are "reprehensible."

Howards said he may have touched Cheney on the elbow or shoulder, like others in the crowd.

Howards kept walking to his son's piano lesson. He returned to the spot about ten minutes later with another son, and that's when Secret Service agent Virgil Reichle handcuffed and arrested Howards for assaulting the vice president.

The charge was later reduced to harassment, then dismissed in Eagle County Court a month later.
As is often the case in such matters, this is probably not the full story, but we guess when the vice president crawls out of his "undisclosed location" agents charged with guarding his life must feel tremendous pressure to keep him safe from things he doesn't want to hear.

Remember the physician on the Gulf Coast last year who told Cheney to go f**k himself? He was not arrested, but that's probably because he said something the veep could understand.

Using words of more than one syllable will get you in trouble.