Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Blog For Arizona Makes False Accusations of Libel Over Terry Goddard, Censors Rebuttal

Under the pseudonym "AZ Blue Meanie", a self-proclaimed litigator tried to intimidate writer Alissa Johnson by making the claim she had committed libel in referring to Terry Goddard's investigation of the 2006 RTA election.

When one brings up the relevant topic of election integrity in a story entitled "Elections Matter" and refers to the most recent breaking story effecting the state of Pima County elections, you normally wouldn't expect this level of defensiveness.

The following excerpt from the comment thread includes Alissa's (Liss's) rebuttal:

Liss said...

Elections should matter. So should election integrity. If the plan is any threat to the status quo how else can the Democrats then go ahead and "fix" the economy the way you describe?

That's why it's essential to report and get to the bottom of the missing poll tapes in the RTA election. How much confidence could you have in the Pima County Elections Division? The Tucson Weekly has covered this issue, shouldn't this be an important issue to the Democrats, regardless of who may be involved with sweeping it under the rug?


AZ BlueMeanie said in reply to Liss...

Liss or Interceptmedia at weeklyintercept.blog: I have read the articles at the Tucson Citizen and Tucson Weekly. I am also intimately familiar with this case and the election integrity advocates pushing this story. If Bill Risner believes he has actual evidence of election fraud and/or vote tampering, he has an obligation to take that evidence to the U.S. Attorney for Arizona and to the Voting Rights Section of the U.S. Department of Justice for investigation. I have not received word that he has done so, which suggests to me that he is not as confident in the evidence as you speculate. As I would tell any attorney in a case I am litigating, if you think you have a case, "prove it." You, however, are not going to litigate this case in comments left on this blog. Write about it on your own blog. Do I make myself clear?

Liss said...

Yes, your emotion is clearly heard and noted. A responsible attorney would await the outcome of a court case in which culpability is at issue before filing a complaint with the US Attorney's Office or DoJ. No sensible officer of the court proceeds without a court ruling backing him up, especially in such a politically sensitive case. As you know, being intimately familiar with the case and all, this litigation is ongoing. Bill Risner is now deposing Iron Mountain staff to find out who had access to the ballot boxes. The problem with bringing the guilty parties to justice in this lengthy litigation is that our own AG, Terry Goddard, stands in the way. He obstructs justice by making the fact-finding process more onerous. This, from an attorney general sworn to support the Constitution and laws of the state of Arizona. You may be a litigator, god help us all, but you do not seem to have a grasp of the thorny roadblocks presented in bringing to justice individuals who are high up on the state's power structure. Risner has previous experience with bringing in the Feds with another case of election fraud in Arizona and justice did not prevail when it should have. I am amused by the image of you telling opposing counsel to "prove it". What a pleasure you must be to litigate with and against. You read a lot into Risner's discretion in not immediately rushing forth with complaints about criminal activity. Am I right? Or are you just another party loyalist?

My name is Alissa Johnson. The Weekly Intercept is a product of blogs like yours and the Tucson Weekly who, for apparent political reasons, fail to tell the truth on these important issues.

AZ BlueMeanie said in reply to Liss...

Who is being emotional, Alissa? Read your rant. I am well aware of the status of this case. I did not suggest the timing of the complaint to the Feds. But in any event it would not be unusual for evidence discovered during the course of litigation to be referred to the Feds where warranted, it does not require any court order as you believe. It is you who wants to rush to judgment with incomplete evidence with your comments here. "Obstruction of justice" is a criminal allegation, and is defamation if false. Terry Goddard is a public figure, which requires the Times v. Sullivan actual malice standard. Your comments certainly exhibit malice.

The AG has prosecutorial discretion - a far different animal from obstruction of justice. Just because you disagree does not make it obstruction. The wheels of justice turn slowly as Mr. Risner knows well. I am waiting for the evidence in his case to resolve before I write about it. I want to see what develops. That's my right of editorial discretion, and professional judgment. But you have your panties in a twist because I will not write the post that you want me to write when you want me to write it. So you turn to personal insults about me and my practice, about which you know nothing. I have allowed your little temper tantrum to temporarily hijack this blog, so you have accomplished your goal of ranting about Terry Goddard. But this will be the last exchange on this subject I will allow due to your bad behavior.

Liss said in reply to AZ BlueMeanie...

Editor's Note: You have hijacked the comments long enough. Give it a rest lady.

As you see, AZ BlueMeanie removed Liss's last reply, preventing Liss from rebutting his allegations of defamation (libel, because it is written).

And this is the post that AZ Blue Meanie would prefer their viewers didn't see:

I wrote that comment with a smile on my face and joy in my heart. But since you are attacking me, I will respond with a few pertinent points.

You state "it would not be unusual for evidence discovered during the course of litigation to be referred to the Feds where warranted, it does not require any court order as you believe."

I did not say it requires a court order. I said that it would be sensible for an officer of the court to have a judgment to back up a complaint to the feds in a politically sensitive case.

Now here comes the legal:

First of all, as you know, "a plaintiff is 'libel-proof' when his reputation has been irreparably stained by prior publications." Marcone v. Penthouse Int'l Magazine for Men, 754 F.2d 1072, 1079 (3rd Cir. 1985).

Much has already been published on blogs and such about Terry Goddard and his failure to bring justice in this case of election fraud. Could be that he is "libel-proof". But even so...

You said to me "Your comments certainly exhibit malice." Really, counselor?

Courts have defined "actual malice" in the defamation context as publishing a statement while either knowing it was false, or acting with reckless disregard for the truth, and a public figure must do so by a "clear and convincing" standard. New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 286 (1964); Gertz, 418 U.S. at 342; Hepps, 475 U.S. at 773.

The actual malice standard focuses on the defendant's actual state of mind at the time of publication. The actual malice standard is not measured by what a reasonable person would have published or investigated prior to publication. Instead, the plaintiff must produce clear and convincing evidence that the defendant actually knew the information was false or entertained serious doubts as to the truth of his publication. In making this determination, a court will look for evidence of the defendant's state of mind at the time of publication and will likely examine the steps he took in researching, editing, and fact checking his work.

I have followed this case closely for more than two years, reading the motions, finding out everything I can and my reasonable conclusion is that Terry Goddard at the very least has obstructed justice, and is possibly guilty of worse.

Btw, as you surely know, Mr. Litigator, this is a very difficult standard for a plaintiff to establish. Only in a handful of cases over the last decades have plaintiffs been successful in establishing the requisite actual malice to prove defamation.

And then we come to the insurmountable obstacle in your libel case against me:

The plaintiff must prove that the overall substance of the statement can be proven false before a claim for defamation can arise. Public figure plaintiffs may have to prove falsity by "clear and convincing evidence" as protected under New York Times v. Sullivan. Sharon v. Time, Inc., 599 F. Supp. 538, 558 (S.D.N.Y. 1984); Firestone v. Time Inc., 460 F.2d 712, 722 (5th Cir. 1972), cert. den., 409 U.S. 875 (Bell, J., specially concurring).

In other words, the truth is a complete defense to a defamation claim.

Somehow I doubt anyone will sue me. That's a dog that won't hunt and, if you are indeed an attorney, you know it.

I don't see how my behavior on this blog has been "bad".

Does Michael Bryan sign on to your response? If he agrees with you, I would like to hear from him. With those kind of journalistic standards, people would be kept groping around in the dark forever.

Alissa's remarks:

You see in this exchange a fascinating dynamic of control and censorship.

Note, once AZ Blue Meanie knows I am a woman (and not just an avatar for frequent commenter J.T. Waldron) he first calls me "emotional" and that what I had to say was a "rant": the classic bullying tactic of the lesser-endowed male. In this table-turning move we see the style of argument developed and practiced by seven-year-olds in schoolyards worldwide - 'I know you are but what am I?' It's refreshing to see that old chestnut dusted off and used in adult conversation. How fun if we would see more of it in our congressional debates!

AZ Blue Meanie then attempts to bust out the law without seeming to understand that the legal term, actual malice, is not the Webster definition which is "the desire to see another experience pain". Clearly my posting doesn't exhibit legal malice and I don't think it exhibits garden-variety colloquial malice, either.

Too bad this guy feels he must hide behind the 'AZ Blue Meanie' moniker. I welcome debate with him anytime, anywhere, as long as it is not censored.

Free copy of the movie, "Fatally Flawed: The Pursuit of Justice in a Suspicious Election" for the first person to come up with the true identity of "AZ Blue Meanie".

(Note: Thanks to all who responded. Free copy has already been claimed.)


  1. The free copy of the of the movie "Fatally Flawed" should go to AZ bluemeanie! Any one who views it is sure to agree that there was "wrong doing" going on there!!
    Ann Fairbanks

  2. Blog For Arizona is not obligated to carry your comments anymore than you are obligated to carry mine. If you are disruptive or off-topic, or even merely tedious, my writers have the discretion to remove your comments. Keep in mind that you are a guest on my blog when you comment. If you get up in the middle of a film and start yelling about something you think is vitally important, it doesn't mean those who tell you to shut up are conspiring to deny your free speech, it means that they want to see the film they came to see. Have some common courtesy and I daresay you will get your point across better when it's delivered in the proper context.

    Best Regards,
    Michael Bryan
    Editor, BlogForArizona.com

  3. Disruptive? Off topic? Merely tedious? The thread speaks for itself. Michael Bryan is allowing a lot in the name of "discretion".

    The prejudice is directed toward those who are still wondering why Blog For Arizona, a site that once provided point by point coverage of the electronic records lawsuit, would suddenly clam up over the recent findings of missing RTA election poll tapes.

    What is obvious is the willingness to keep people in the dark about a significant finding that affects election integrity. This choice is made to protect Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry Goddard, regardless of how he is becoming the suspects' wet dream.

    Let's examine this choice to keep people in the dark about current, significant findings affecting election integrity in order to protect one of their own candidates. The rationale seems to be that Jan Brewer must not be elected, no matter what the cost. Wasn't this the same rationale used for propping up a candidate like John Kerry to oppose George W. Bush in 2004? That same Kerry who refused to challenge the election, particularly in Ohio where it was definitively stolen? Right.

    So taking a page from the same book of folly, the AZ Democratic Party, by its very structure, finds it's only viable gubernatorial candidate to be Terry Goddard. Blog For Arizona decides to be the mouthpiece for the corporate influences that ultimately produced the reigning party structure. Instead of offering and entertaining any meaningful exchange of ideas, it elects instead to threaten, chastise, and remove anybody that brings up information that is less than favorable to their pet candidate.

    Instead of being so intrinsically involved with the party line, Blog For Arizona could be a great benefit to their party of choice by simply telling the truth.

    Did it ever occur to Goddard and company that he could still make this a campaign issue? Brewer is not only a shit governor, but she is currently just as weak on election integrity. She can't throw this stone at her opponent. Goddard could reopen the case, complete the examination and exact justice were it is needed in an expedited fashion if he so wished.

    That way Goddard would actually have a campaign instead of a loyal thought police.

  4. Michael Bryan:

    I don't think I ever expressed the belief that anyone is "obligated to carry" my comments.  However, AZ Blue Meanie alleged that I am guilty of defamation, and I quite properly sought to respond in the same forum where the allegation was made. 

    My original comment, and the responsive comments that followed, were neither "disruptive" nor "off-topic". In fact they were clearly on point and constructive.  My initial comment expressed the opinion that election integrity matters because the title of the posted article says "Why elections matter", and obviously elections don't matter if there is no election integrity to make them trustworthy. 

    AZ Blue Meanie's response to this rather constructive and mild-mannered comment was:  "You...are not going to litigate this case in comments left on this blog. Write about it on your own blog. Do I make myself clear?"  

    Wow!  Who is this guy, Mel Gibson?!  

    I responded to his comments about Bill Risner by providing information on the case and stating that Terry Goddard obstructed justice in this case, at the very least. This is responsive and on point.

    As for being "merely tedious", if AZ Blue Meanie held that opinion, it is perplexing why he would respond with such viciousness and what appears to be misogynistic rage.  Yes, AZ Blue Meanie, I've been a naughty girl, and you make yourself clear!

    In all seriousness, anyone who endorses Meanie's laughably peurile actions on his blog cannot have their head screwed on straight.  I'm sorry to hear that about you, Michael Bryan.