A little cat-fight exploded into a blog-spat, then a lawsuit, which has finally ended with a lesson in First Amendment rights.
Reporter, Christy Lochrie filed suit against her former friend, Beth Norby. Norbry’s blog, “No Phat Pink Chicks” has been described as a “scathingly critical blog” aimed at Lochrie. (source).
[judge] Gibson denied Lochrie’s plea that Norby stay away from her and also take down her “No Phat Pink Chicks” blog, which for months has poked fun at Lochrie’s reporting and her personality.
Gibson said the First Amendment protected Norby’s blog. He added that its content didn’t constitute harassment, although it was “rude and boorish” and walked a thin line between protected speech and defamation.
“I think Mrs. Norby should not be proud of what she posted,” Gibson said. “This is sixth grade, but it might not even make it to that level.”
As such, Gibson also denied Norby’s request that Lochrie reimburse her for her legal fees.
“I think the comments by you (Norby) brought this on,” Gibson said.
But Gibson also criticized Lochrie.
“I think we can’t avoid that there’s a big, fat First Amendment staring you in the face,” he admonished. (source)
While it is heartening to see that some trial level judges understand that the First Amendment requires neither politeness nor fairness. See, e.g., Pullum v. Johnson, 647 So. 2d 254, 258 (Fla. 1st DCA 1994); Dockery v. Florida Democratic Party, 799 So.2d 291 (Fla. 2d DCA 2001).
On the other hand, the California Anti-SLAPP law seemingly should have required an attorneys fees award. The fact that Norby brought the suit on by posting negative comments about Lochrie doesn’t change the fact that the mere seeking of an injunction against future speech should be sanctionable in any U.S. court — especially one in California with its anti-SLAPP legislation.