vendredi 4 juillet 2014

Slapping down Douglas Handshoe's and "Jack Etherton" Truitt's hilarious SLAPP motions: New Orleans Civil District Court

The "Slabbed Nation" is crumbling. The House of Handshoe teeters, fated to fall. "Super Lawyer" Bobby Truitt can't seem to BS his way out of this one, either for himself or his former client.

A now-erased comment left by former Douglas Handshoe attorney, financier, and alleged co-conspirator "Jack Etherton Truitt" on Handshoe's hate-filled blog "Slabbed" caused curious minds to wonder what exactly was going on in the year-old litigation brought by New Orleans civil rights attorney Daniel Abel against the alleged perpetrators of Slabbed's vicious and unceasing campaign to damage and injure others (including Abel) through the Internet. On July 2, Handshoe had published a check list of his blog's "accomplishments" and Truitt was adding to the list with his comment. Handshoe quickly removed the quip from publication. Now, why would he do that?
Turns out July 2, 2014, was the same day Chief Judge Piper Griffin of New Orleans Civil District Court considered various motions brought by Truitt trying to get out of the multi-count defamation lawsuit. Abel had opposed them all. Truitt denied that he was part and parcel of Handshoe's defamatory publishing activities. Too bad, at the end of the day, Truitt remains a defendant alongside Handshoe. Truitt's public showing of "having fun" using civil legal process might just backfire on him.

Also turns out, according to informed courthouse sources, Chief Judge Griffin has in fact flatly denied various motions by homophobic blogger Handshoe, slip-and-fall lawyer Truitt, and former Asst. Jefferson Parish Attorney Anne-Marie Vandenweghe in the defamation litigation against them. All three claimed that Abel's lawsuit was a "strategic lawsuit against public participation" or "SLAPP" suit. Some sources indicate Handshoe attempted to have his anti-SLAPP argument heard twice. Judge Griffin has repeatedly found no SLAPP, and that the lawsuit seeking redress from all three will go forward to trial in New Orleans. "Denied" is a simple word Handshoe, Truitt, and Vandenweghe do not appear to understand.

Judge Griffin also denied repeated motions by Truitt trying to change the venue out of New Orleans, and to dismiss the suit against him for being too "vague." In evidence presented by Abel, Truitt has admitted to giving money to Handshoe to publish the hate-filled and homophobic blog, and also frequently contributes to it.  

The consequences of Judge Griffin's decision for defendants Handshoe, Truitt, and Vandenweghe are serious. Handshoe has unceasingly crowed on his web site Slabbed that lawsuits from various individuals against him involving defamation were frivolous SLAPP suits and that he is being pursued by "SLAPP-happy nut jobs"; now a court of law has said decisively otherwise. In this case, purported "free speech" will meet head on with longstanding standards of civil decency and defamation in the Internet context.

Under Art. 971 of the Louisiana rules of civil procedure, Judge Griffin's decision has precedential value and can be used in later parts of the trial. This is not good news for Truitt and his pals Handshoe and Vandenweghe. In addition, Art. 971 mandates that any loosing party in a motion made under the article must pay attorney's fees to the prevailing party, in this case Mr. Abel.

Looks like Truitt will have to pony up for "having fun with Danny Abel."

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