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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Defendants compare me to founder of rap group the Fugees in absurd effort to have me declared a public figure in defamation case involving Jessica Garrison

Pras (right), with fellow members of the Fugees,
Lauryn Hill and Wyclef Jean
(From nydailynews.com)
Multiple defendants in our pending wrongful foreclosure-defamation lawsuit have tried to have the case dismissed by comparing me to one of the world's most famous rappers and claiming I am a public figure. I'm not making this up.

Hearst Corporation, publisher of the Marie Claire fashion magazine that defamed me in an article about Alabama GOP operative Jessica Medeiros Garrison, is one of several defendants to resort to this trick -- no matter how absurd it sounds. Hearst cites a case styled Michel v. NYP Holdings, 816 F. 3d 686 - Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit 2016, which revolves around "the well-known rapper and philanthropist Prakazrel ("Pras") Michel." Court documents go on to describe Michel as "a Grammy-winning artist and founding member of the music group the Fugees, who currently engages in a series of philanthropic and business ventures."

How famous are Pras and the music group he founded. This is from Pras' Wikipedia page:

Pras (/ˈprɑːz/; born Prakazrel Samuel Michel; October 19, 1972) is an American rapper, record producer, songwriter and actor, best known as one of the founding members of the critically acclaimed hip hop group, the Fugees, which included Wyclef Jean and recording artist Lauryn Hill.

Even I, as white as I am, have heard of Wyclef Jean and Lauryn Hill, and I know they are world-famous artists, along with Pras and the Fugees. Rolling Stone, in 1996, called the Fugees "Leaders of the New Cool." They have played The Apollo in New York City, drawing a crowd of more than 10,000. MTV ranked them the ninth-best hip-hop group of all time, even though they recorded only two albums.

And I, with my little Alabama-based blog, is supposed to compare with these folks in terms of notoriety -- in terms of being a public figure? That's nuts,

Why does the public-figure designation matter in a defamation case. It forces the plaintiff to prove that the false article was published with "actual malice," meaning the publisher knew in advance it was false.

Here's how I responded to the assertions in Hearst's Motion to Dismiss. (Both the Hearst motion and my response are embedded at the end of this post.)

Hearst cites Michel v. NYP Holdings, 816 F. 3d 686 (11th Cir., 2016), which is based on New York state defamation law, which is non-binding in this case. That case also involved a plaintiff who was described thusly: “[Michel] describes himself in his complaint as ‘a two-time Grammy winning artist, a founding member of the famous music group, the Fugees, and . . . an acclaimed philanthropist.’ And in subsequent court documents, he describes himself as a ‘world-renown[ed] philanthropist.’ Moreover, at oral argument before the district court, Michel's attorney conceded that his client ‘is a celebrity, he's a public figure.’" This was the basis for a finding that Michel was a public figure. But to claim Roger Shuler, because of his Alabama-based blog, is on the same level as a “two-time Grammy winner,” “a world-renowned philanthropist,” and a “celebrity” . . . well, it’s nonsense. If the court somehow determines this is a close call, it must find in favor of the nonmoving party (Shuler). Here, Hearst admits the Shulers pleaded malice anyway, “knowing the statements in question were false.”


Anonymous said...

Comparing the Schnauzer to a rapper? What a hoot!

Anonymous said...

Hey, Schnauzer, I knew you were a Clinton supporter. Does this mean we're talking George Clinton?

legalschnauzer said...

Hah, yes! As a child of the 70s, I could get down with George C. and Parliament and Funkadelic.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious: did Luther or Jessica ever deny UNDER OATH that they had an affair? Were they ever actually asked about the affair?

legalschnauzer said...

Interesting question, @1:38. I will be posting about that in detail soon. I have a copy of a court transcript where both deny an affair, upon questioning from Bill Baxley. No adversary party was present, so who knows if the transcript is accurate of if they even testified at all. I wasn't there because I was not noticed on the hearing, so I have no way of knowing what really took place. It's sort of like the court saying, "Trust us," but as any reader of this blog knows, there are lots of reasons not to trust a court. The big issue is, even if the transcript is legit, Garrison and Strange were not cross examined and they were not forced to turn over documents (e-mails, texts, court docs, etc.) that would have gone to the affair. Anything they say, even under oath, is not the final word. If I had been present, or if I had been represented by a lawyer, there would have been production of documents to prove the affair.

Anonymous said...

Hearst must know they defamed you if they are resorting to crap like this.

legalschnauzer said...

Oh, they know they defamed me. It's in black and white and can't seriously be disputed.

legalschnauzer said...

Oh, I should note that someone broke into my Scribd account and removed the Hearst doc. I just put it back in there and changed password. We'll see how long it stays this time. But somebody apparently didn't want the document to see the light of day. If I had written it, I wouldn't want it to see the light of day either.

If the thievery happens again, I'm going to notify the court or law enforcement about it.

e.a.f. said...

now if you just had the bank accounts of the people they compare you to.
this is a stretch. One single blogger and you're as big as those music stars??? ya its a stretch. made me laugh though. Hearst must be desperate, really desperate. They could at least have compared you to some white middle aged group, hey like the Eagles, beach boys.

Anonymous said...

I guess southern family values Republicans come unglued when the lawyers bring up the Chocolate City precedent.

Anonymous said...

Be careful with your Scribd account and other computer data, LS. These people must be desperate, likely because you have one helluva case against them. If they got into your Scribd account, I'd guess they also hacked your e-mail, blog, etc. I'm pretty sure that constitutes a crime, so I urge you to keep a record on this.

Anonymous said...

I always thought you had more of an MC Hammer thing going on.

Anonymous said...

@7:26.... exactly. LS--Too legit to quit! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiyYozeOoKs