|Jessica Medeiros Garrison|
The National Lawyers Association (NLA), however, might want to think twice about allowing Garrison to speak on the subject. If Garrison plans to discuss her defamation lawsuit against me and Legal Schnauzer, she would be wise to think real hard about whether or not that's a good idea.
How do we know that Garrison might speak before the NLA? She revealed that little nugget in an interview with Rob Holbert, publisher of Lagniappe Mobile. Here is how Holbert put it:
As more and more bloggers fill the web with "journalism" that displays wildly varying degrees of ethical standards, accountability and verification, it seems likely the subject is going to be more widely discussed. Garrison said the National Lawyers Association will soon be conducting a panel on the matter, and she has been asked to join the discussion.Does it make sense to include Garrison on such a panel? Not one bit.
We've already presented evidence that suggests Garrison knows virtually nothing about First Amendment law--and cares not one iota about the rule of law. Those two characteristics alone would make her a poor choice to participate in a panel about communications in the digital environment.
But issues with Garrison go way beyond that. In an as-told-to article at women's fashion site marieclaire.com, Garrison attacked my reporting about her extramarital affair with Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange. She even crowed that she had "won" a $3.5-million default judgment against me.
But there were a number of facts Garrison either lied about or neglected to tell her audience:
* Garrison said there was a trial in the case, but there was nothing even approaching a trial; in fact, there was no adversarial proceeding of any kind.
* Longstanding First Amendment law holds that defamation cases must go to trial, that a judge cannot act as a one-man censor on an issue so central to our democracy as a free press. Did Garrison tell her audience this? Nope.
* First Amendment law also holds that defamation cases must be decided by juries. Again, the thinking is that these issues are too important to leave in the hands of a judge who could act as a solo censorship board. No jury ever was present for Garrison's case, and she did not even ask for a jury trial in her initial filings; she only did so after I asked for a jury trial in my answer.
I neither received nor was sent notification of the default-judgment hearing. That means, by law, the judgment is void, and I've seen no written document in the record that counters that.
* Overpowering evidence suggests that Garrison lied under oath in the hearing--and that, if proven, would amount to a crime called perjury. It also is possible that Strange testified falsely under oath, meaning, in essence, that Garrison's $3.5-million judgment is built on a mountain of fraud.
Does the National Lawyers Association mean well? The "About" page on its Web site includes this statement:
The National Lawyers Association (NLA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501(c)(6) membership organization devoted to advancing the legal issues that concern our members. Without regard for politics or prevailing fashion, we dedicate our work to the belief that there is a national imperative to improve the legal profession and the justice system of the nation. There's never been a more important time to be a member of the NLA.
That sounds good, but if the NLA thinks Jessica Medeiros Garrison is going to help further that noble cause, it is sadly mistaken.
Garrison touts herself as a victim of defamation. But there is nothing in any court file to support that claim. There is no finding at trial, or any form of adversarial proceeding, that my reporting was false or defamatory. There is no jury finding, as required by law, that my reporting was false or defamatory.
Does the NLA really want a non-victim, one who has shown little to zero knowledge of First Amendment law, to pontificate on defamation in the digital age? If so, the NLA could be headed down a treacherous slope.