Writing the truth about someone costs blogger $60,000 in damages

A Minnesota court orders blogger John (“Johnny Northside“) Hoff to pay $60,000 for writing the truth.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune provides some back story to the lawsuit:

[Jerry] Moore . . . was hired at the U of M’s Urban Research and Outreach/Engagement Center to study mortgage foreclosures. When Hoff found out, he wrote a post accusing Moore of being involved in a “high-profile fraudulent mortgage,” one of several that resulted in a 16-year prison sentence for former real estate agent Larry Maxwell.  Moore was not charged in the Maxwell case.

Days after the blog post, U of M fired Mr. Moore.

Though Johnny Northside told the truth when he linked ex-community leader Jerry Moore to a high-profile mortgage fraud, the court upheld the $60,000 jury award.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune

The jury ruled that although Hoff’s post … was true, he intentionally interfered with Moore’ employment contract with the University of Minnesota Urban Outreach and Outreach/Engagement Center….

Siouxsie hopes this result gets reversed quickly.  Those who tell or report the truth should be protected under the First Amendment.  “Even if Hoff intended to get Moore fired, people are constitutionally entitled to speak the truth about others, even with such a goal.” Indeed, that is the law — just read Eugene Volockh’s perfect post on this.  Suffice it to say, the verdict is on thin ice legally.

On Sunday night, Johnny Northside blogged, “Damn right we’re appealing  —  All the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary!” Siouxsie wishes Johnny Northside luck in his appeal and hopes that his counsel properly preserved the record.  Until the verdict is overturned, its chilling effect will make it just a little bit colder in Minnesota.

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~ by siouxsielaw on March 14, 2011.

One Response to “Writing the truth about someone costs blogger $60,000 in damages”

  1. This is just wrong. Johnny Northside will be vindicated.

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