Handshoe sued the newspaper in mid February, 2015, alleging that the province's largest daily libelled him by referring to him as homophobic. The suit was filed in Hanock County Circuit Court, Mississippi. At the same time, Handshoe also filed suit on similar grounds against the Toronto Star and its reporter Peter Edwards, as reported here.
Chief Judge Louis Guirola also presided over a case involving Handshoe of first impression for the federal legisltation known as the SPEECH Act, in which Handshoe prevailed over Trout Point Lodge, Charles Leary, and Vaughn Perret. The unfair nature and pitfalls of the SPEECH Act as applied in the Trout Point case were recently the topic of a major law review article that analyzed what happened when Trout Point appealed Judge Guirola's decision to the U.S. Court of Appeal.
In its defense, The Chronicle-Herald noted the variety of homophobic epithets published by Handshoe, as found by the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in 2012 and 2014 decisons awarding $817,000 in damages and costs. The document filed by acclaimed libel attorney Jackson Ables, III, refers to the "general and a specific, anti-homosexual animus on the part of Plaintiff," citing statements made to the federal district court about Perret & Leary when Handshoe once sued Randall Cajun of this blog. The defense also refers to findings by Judge Guirola, repeated by the Court of Appeal, that Handshoe's publications about Perret & Leary were "homophobic." The newspaper also bases part of its defense on the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Attorney Ables also asserted:
Plaintiff must prove that he is not possessed in fact of and that he does not express an irrational fear of, aversion to, or is not inclined to discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals, and that The Chronicle Herald has actually published in this district and division a false statement of purported fact about him that explicitly said that he is and Plaintiff must prove that that statement about him was not substantially true but was actually false and wherein so.
FIFTY-SECOND DEFENSENo only is the newspaper defending, it is also seeking monetary sanctions against Handshoe:
If the Plaintiff is a homophobe, then any actual fear or aversion which the Plaintiff himself may have had or still has towards homosexuality and/or alleged homosexuals has been, by definition, irrational and, thus, is not legally sanctionable by this Court, and the Plaintiff may not seek “damages” from The Chronicle Herald for his harboring any such irrational fear. However, any pretense by which the Plaintiff may have feigned (or encouraged any conclusion) that he is homophobic, if done for commercial reasons, would be sham and false and thus could not be actionable, in any context.
For the reasons explicitly set forth in this pleading, The Chronicle Herald avers that this action was filed pro se and filed in violation of Fed. R. Civ. P. 11 and that it is also violative of the Mississippi Litigation Accountability Act. Moreover, the filing and the maintenance of this civil action was intended to vex the Defendant and Plaintiff’s actions since the filing of it likely will unlawfully multiply these proceedings.The Halifax daily also made the intriguing assertion: "The defendant avers, upon information and belief, that the plaintiff may have received, or accepted, or agreed to accept or receive things of value or other assistance whatever the form thereof, as an inducement to commence or to prosecute this civil action."
Mr. Handshoe has seemingly set himself up for a major court battle, and discovery of his modus operandi. What will the Toronto Star, an even larger and financially mightier newspaper do next in its response to legal clown Douglas Handshoe?
He seems to make enemies everywhere he goes. . . . perhaps he'll prove to be his own worst enemy.