mercredi 18 mars 2015

Chilling speech and avoiding discovery: the legal antics of a homophobic Mississippi blogger (he makes enemies everywhere he goes)

 "intrepid, courageous patriots who understand our 
United States Constitution and believe in the necessity for absolute freedom of speech."  
Anne-Marie Vandenweghe describing Douglas Handshoe & 
Bobby Truitt in 2015

Oh, really?
intrepid, courageous patriots who understand our United States Constitution and believe in the necessity for absolute freedom of speech. - See more at:
intrepid, courageous patriots who understand our United States Constitution and believe in the necessity for absolute freedom of speech. - See more at:

Free speech? For me only, thank you

Sometime recently, homophobic Mississippi blogger Douglas Handshoe sued two newspapers, the Toronto Star and the Halifax Chronicle-Herald for libel. He also sued an investigative reporter for the Star, Peter Edwards. He filed the actions in Hancock County Circuit Court, Mississippi. In 2013, Handshoe sued Nova Scotia legal commentator Michael Coyle for libel, also in Hancock County, for an article on his legal affairs web site that described Handshoe's defeat in Nova Scotia Supreme Court. That same year he also sued Yours Truly, also for libel, also in Hancock County, for writing about his history with felon Fred Goodson. He also sued Trout Point Lodge, Charles Leary, Daniel Abel, Chris Yount, Nova Scotia Enterprises, and Aaron Broussard for conspiracy, abuse of process, and malicious prosecution, also in Hancock County, in retaliation for being sued for defamation over what one federal judge termed his "campaign" to damage and harass.

In each case, Douglas Handshoe used his own lawsuits as fodder for expanding his blog content and/or his Twitter feed.

In the recent lawsuits against the Canadian newspapers, Handshoe has reportedly alleged it was defamatory to publish that he is "homophobic." Handshoe actually alleges that a court of law has never found him to be anti-homosexual. Gee, Doug, guess you have never read the following court decisions:
  • Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Muise in 2011: "In addition in the case at hand, the blogs contain comments based on the actual or perceived sexual orientation of the intended targets.  Those comments  are clearly meant to be derogatory and insulting.  I will not reproduce them here.  It is the type of expression that engenders harmful results such as discrimination and hatred.  It is not the type of free expression that deserves protection and  fostering."
  • U.S. District Court Chief Judge Guirola in 2012: "Handshoe has published numerous entries on 'Slabbed' about Plaintiffs, many of which may be characterized as derogatory, mean spirited, sexist and homophobic." 
  • U.S. Circuit Court Judge Walker-Elrod in 2013 on Handshoe's homophobic rhetoric: "grotesque" and "reprehensible."
  • Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Coady in 2014: "The statements also contained anti-gay rhetoric and homophobic comments."
 In May of 2013, Handshoe filed a Digital Millenium Copyright Act take-down notice with Google, swearing under penalty of perjury that the Creative Commons photograph of him that appears on this blog was his own intellectual property. His notice was promptly published to the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse, where it belongs. Google appears to have ignored him.

Who says the U.S. Supreme Court said copyright was about protecting the right to speak? Not in Mr. Doug's universe. All I can say is, Handshoe gives me chills.

Handshoe also just sued Daniel Abel, Loyola University of New Orleans, university legal clinic attorney Ramona Fernandez, Chris Yount and a law student in U.S. federal district court in Mississippi for "abuse of process" and "malicious prosection." Suing a law school student working in a legal clinic on behalf of a minor child goes beyond the pale; but not for Doug, resolutely supported by his wife Jennifer Handshoe. Such a clinic usually reserves its time and resources to help those less fortunate in need of legal aid; now they will have to waste their time dealing with Mr. Doug over a case where he used a child's sexually-explicit drawing for his own selfish ends.

Catholic school St. Stanislaus alum, Handshoe delved into the divorce court file of Mr. Yount, whose only connection to Handshoe was serving him with legal process, apparently looking for embarassing material to publish on his blog "Slabbed." Good way to try to avoid being served with legal complaints in the future, no?

Seems like Handshoe also publicly accused the Sun Herald newspaper and its Political Editor Paul Hampton of being on the take: "Enter Doug Handshoe of the Slabbed blog, who has a tendency to go off half-cocked."

Read more here:

It seems like Handshoe, with the help of his buddy attorneys Bobby Truitt and Connie Sue Montogomery, will stop at nothing to silence words about him he doesn't like. Those words might be on a blog, like this one, in a newspaper, or in a court document.

Handshoe rants about being the ultimate defender of free speech and the consummate enemy of chilling effects. The facts appear to say distinctly otherwise. A bit lopsided in your fervent online advocacy, Doug?

Discover me? No thanks

Handshoe also has a special penchant for fastidiously avoiding discovery, even though he loves filing his own lawsuits and legal challenges. "Abuse of process," anyone?

One has to wonder when the courts--especially Hancock County Circuit Court--are going to wake up and take a full, long look at what's occurring to the integrity of their system. Most often, if Handshoe hurls an accusation against someone, it's because he's truly engaged in exactly the same conduct he's claiming his opponent engages in. "Litigation terrorism," anyone?

On the topic of Handshoe and avoiding discovery, let's review a few examples:
1. In the first Canadian litigation against him, he simply didn't show up, despite being personally served with legal process (by Chris Yount). Thus, no discovery.

2. In the second Canadian litigation against him, court records show he filed an affidavit related to his ultimately-unsupported allegtions of "unclean hands." Under Nova Scotia law, the opposing party has a right to cross-examine a person whose affidavit is submitted into evidence. Handshoe went to the extent of making the extraordinary request to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court to relieve him from the obligation of being cross-examined. He lost, and as soon as he lost, he pulled his own affidavit so that no one could ask him questions under oath. Hmmm, wonder why?

3. In 2014, there was a U.S. district court case in Mississippi between Magnolia Group and O'Dwyer Realty. According to Magistrate Judge Walker, a defendant sought from the plaintiff [not Handshoe] "disclosure of communications among Douglas Handshoe/ and Magnolia Group, Keith Aschliman or William Washburn." The secretive Mr. Handshoe intervened in the lawsuit "in an effort to prevent disclosure" of those communications. "Handshoe seeks to prevent Magnolia Group from disclosing what he asserts are confidential communications," according to the judge's decision. Again, Handshoe lost. "In the instant case, Defendant Bunch is not asking Handshoe to disclose confidential information or the identity of confidential sources. In fact, Defendant Bunch has not requested any disclosures whatsoever from Handshoe or" Of course, that did not prevent Handshoe from wasting the court's time with his silly motion, trying to chill any speech or disclosure about him that he could not control.

4. In his 2012 SPEECH Act removal case, Judge Louis Guirola noted about Handshoe: "In his Memorandum in Support of his Motion for Summary Judgment, Handshoe represented to the Court that 'disposition of the case need not involve discovery and turns on legal issues which [the] Court [could] resolve by the litigants' respective motions for summary judgment.' The record indicates that there has been no discovery in this action." Enough said.

5. In his failed attempt to get a Canadian copyright judgment against him tossed out under the SPEECH Act, Handshoe filed an anti-suit injunction motion in Judge Louis Guirola's court, trying to get Judge Guirola in Mississippi to order Judge Piper Griffin in New Orleans to put a stop to Daniel Abel's defamation suit against Handshoe. Too bad this violates a basic principle of the federal democracy: The constitutional right of each state to maintain its own independent judicial system for the resolution of legal disputes. This is a fundamental tenet of the USA's federal system of government. Again, legal tactics (or are they antics?) that violate the U.S. Constitution isn't beyond Handshoe.

6.  Right now in that same New Orleans Civil District Court, Handshoe attempted to have the libel lawsuit against him stopped by filing not one, but two anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) motions. Both were denied by Chief Judge Piper Griffin, and the time came for answering discovery. Court documents show Handshoe is, yet again, adamantly refusing to comply with his legal obligation to be discovered. Daniel Abel's motion to get a court order compelling him to answer discovery will soon be heard. A similar motion to compel his discovery is scheduled for May in the copyright judgment case against him   . . .  stay tuned.

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