Lance Dutson (Maine Web Report): State Contractor Files Federal Lawsuit Against Me. So here I am, one man against the state and its contractors, put in the position of shutting up or being pounded by their deep pockets and a wild misconception of what the court system is supposed to be used for. One person who has exposed a cavalcade of incompetence and who has to choose to allow it, or face an onslaught of personal attack and legal action.
The Boston Globe, in its story (the paper has known about this man and his situation for weeks, but apparently only got intererestd when the lawsuit was filed), quotes many of the usual suspects including my Berkman colleague John Palfrey, who observes that the plaintiff has to surmount a big legal hurdle here.
But what if this case is, as many suspect, an example of a deep-pocketed plaintiff trying to shut someone up — someone who can’t afford a long legal defense? That’s certainly a possibility here.
The situation points up the need for bloggers to realize their speech is subject to such actions. We get no pass when it comes to defaming people, and we shouldn’t.
But it also points up the need for sanctions, ones that hurt, against the plaintiffs when they file suits on specious grounds with the obvious goal of shutting people up or punishing them for telling the truth. Unfortunately, judges almost never penalize the plaintiffs or their lawyers in such cases, and that’s why the law is tipped against the defendants; defending yourself, even when you’re entirely in the right, can be too expensive.
I’m glad to say that the Media Bloggers Association is asking for help and its attorney, Ronald Coleman, is joining the case. (I’m a charter member of this organization.)