Update #4 (August 21, 2012): A win for free speech and the First Amendment with a reversal of a Hennepin County District Court jury verdict against “Johnny Northside,” a blogger tagged for supposed “tortious interference with contract” arising out of blog posts critical of Jerry Moore, a defamation plaintiff. Congratulations to trial lawyer Paul Godfread!
Update #3 (May 14, 2012): The appeal of the decision in favor of the plaintiff in this case of defamation against “Johnny Northside,” a blogger, discussed below, is set for May 23 at 11:15 a.m. in St. Paul before Judges Halbrooks, Bjorkman; and Muehlberg.
Update # 2 (March 11, 2011): Jury comes back with verdict for plaintiff and award of $60,000.
Update (March 8, 2011): Sheila Regan, Twin City Daily Planet, has the blow-by-blow.
Original post (March 6, 2011): Jon Tevlin of the Star Tribune tells the story of John Hoff and his blog, The Adventures of Johnny Northside. Jill Clark, a Twin Cities lawyer who is no stranger to controversy or high-profile cases, (covered previously on ML here), goes up against Minneapolis solo lawyer, Paul Godfread, in a trial before Hennepin County Judge Denise Reilly for Clark’s client, Jerry Moore, the former executive director of the Jordan Area Community Council.
Tevlin reports that Moore has taken exception to Hoff’s publication of alleged “neighborhood rumors” that apparently suggested Moore’s involvement with a mortgage fraud criminal enterprise.
Needless to say, bloggers, as a group, are unlikely to be well-schooled in journalism, journalistic ethics and standards (since all you need to be a blogger is access to the internet.)
Bloggers need to appreciate the risks and responsibilities that come with climbing atop a soap box and making one’s voice heard.