Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Harvard Westlake defendant allegedly threatened SLAPP, Caplins settle

Reader Tip: Harvard Westlake litigation articles are here in the archive.

Although the Harvard Westlake litigation continues, the Caplins have withdrawn their complaint against one of the defendants.

Apparently, if you want to publish personally identifying information about a minor who has been threatened with death, you can get away with it if you threaten a SLAPP.

The Caplins' complaint alleged that the Harvard Westlake Chronicle improperly published the name of the new school their son was transferred to after being allegedly threatened with death on his personal website.

Allegedly students from Harvard Westlake posted notes on a personal website devoted to promoting the Caplins' son's entertainment career.

The Caplins alleged that the school failed to adequately investigate the situation, and removed their son from Harvard Westlake and enrolled him in another school.

The School newspaper subsequently ran an article identifying the specific school where the Caplins son was re-enrolled. The Caplins alleged it was improper for this information to be released; defense counsel and the school argued that this information was already public and could be published.

* * *

Putting aside the legal argument and self-evident settlement, we are troubled by this development.

An institution through an agent has released and published information about a youth targeted with death. In turn, that institution and the agent has joined forces and asserted a private right of speech; then allegedly threatened retaliation against the victim for asserting their right to privacy.

This is quite a development. The purpose of the rule of law is to create guides to action. It is curious that a "private right to speech" is asserted as a defense by an agent-institution to justify publication of material.

Sounds like someone is wearing two hats. Is that the kind of place you want to send your children: If you have a problem, they ignore you; but if you dare assert a right to privacy, you are subject to a counter claim to get silence about the state of affairs in that institution.

So much for accountability. It should not be surprising why abuses like this are allowed to fester: The climate encourages people to remain silent.

It is unfortunate that the public must learn about the true state of the educational experience through costly public lawsuits.

This settlement is not, in my opinion, a vote of confidence or an endorsement of what has happened, how the situation was handled, or whether the environment is an appropriate one for parents to expose their children.

It may be a fact of life that brutishness and bullying happens, but the goal of the law is create appropriate lanes for conduct, not convenient exit ramps for accountability.

Some toxic dumps smell sweet simply because there's no one with enough money to challenge to fowl odor emanating from all levels. With enough time, the public can be convinced that those who dare complain of the stench have a medical problem and "should go get that checked out."

But who will dare test the water?

Thanks to the Caplins, we now realize that the water is fowl, yet there is a large chorus calling it sweet wine.

Toxicity isn't sweetened by asserting it is the fruit of God.

* * *

It remains to be seen whether the defendant threatens to counter-sue for damages. However, one state attorney general is moving for an injunction against those who allegedly harm the interests of another: here.

Will the defendant truly walk away, or will the State AG have to step in? God knows if you go to the LA DA you're not going to get much assistance.

LAPD has their hands full with other victims and witnesses to harass or ignore.

* * *

Guess who:

A. Was a defendant in a lawsuit for revealing personal information about a minor

B. Is an advisor of a high school newspaper and yearbook

C. Allegedly threatened a counter suit against the Caplins

D. Provided $500 to the Student Press Law Center

E. Had a case dismissed against them almost a month ago?

That's right, all of the above:

[Deleted Content]

* * *

Is there a conflict if the news outlet [SPLC] that reports the information receives funding from a defendant?

Apparently not, as the claims against Neumeyer have been settled.

Scalia reminds us, "He who pays the piper calls the tune."

* * *

Fact check: SPLC reports that Neumayers's attorney stated the dismissal was on 31 Aug 2005.

However, this is not quite correct. The actual motion for dismissal was on the 26th; the 31st date relates to the day that Caplin's attorney entered the partial settlement and dismissal against Neumeyer.

From the docket:
08/31/2005 Notice of Entry of Dismissal & P/S
Filed by Attorney for Plaintiff/Petitioner

08/26/2005 Partial Dismissal (with Prejudice) (COMPLAINT AGAINST KATHLEEN NEUMEYER ONLY )
Filed by Attorney for Pltf/Petnr
There's a clear basis to justify the 31st date: If you pick the 26th, then that means SPLR only took 28 days to write an article about a benefactor who donated $500; however, if you pick the 31st date that drops the lag down by a whopping 5 day sto only 23 days after the action.

What has the SPLR been doing on this "high profile" case against one of their "big benefactors" for the last month?

Arguably, the weather has not cooperated in reporting about freedom of the press. Not to worry, there's more time for other alleged infringements of privacy to occur on the pretext of keeping the public informed.

If only the right to report was vigorously asserted against tyrants who would take away that liberty.

But why ask for a miracle. Corporations would like to assert their right to speak, outing those who get rolled over with alleged inaction.

This is not surprising from an institution well connected to lawyers and tyrants.

Please send an invitation to the final wake for the US constitution. I'll be sure to bring my marshmallows, chocolate, and a horn. I enjoy seeing the end of history.

* * *

Other comments on the SPLC article.

SPLC article here.