Attorney David Groner of New Iberia, Louisiana is angry. Those bastards at the Louisiana State Bar took a run at him, but he mostly beat the rap. He only took a six-month suspension, and that suspension is suspended if he successfully completes a year of probation.
But then some jackass on the web forum of The Daily Iberian mouthed off about him, and linked the public document announcing his suspension, just like they had a First Amendment right to do that or something. What's a lawyer to do?
Thank God for compliant judges with quick rubberstamps. David Groner sued, and District Judge Curtis Sigur immediately granted him a temporary restraining order directing the New Iberian to delete the comment, remove the link to the public document, and who knows what else:
In the lawsuit, Groner asked a judge to prohibit The Daily Iberian from publishing on its website any article or story in which Groner is accused of "dishonesty, fraud or deceit in connection with a Louisiana Supreme Court decision or similar matter."
The lawsuit was filed Aug. 25. District Judge Curtis Sigur signed a temporary restraining order the same day the lawsuit was filed in support of Groner's request.
The Daily Iberian has obeyed rather than risk contempt, but is appealing.
Maybe the anonymous comment falsely described the bar proceedings against David Groner. But forcing the paper to take the comment down — not to mention the link to a public document — is nothing short of lawless. First, the paper isn't responsible for the comment as a matter of law under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Second, the judge's order is classic — and classically unconstitutional — prior restraint. If you are defamed, your remedy is to seek damages. Maybe, once a jury has ruled, you can get an order prohibiting the defendant from repeating the thing the jury found to be defamatory. But a pre-trial order directing a newspaper to take something down, including a public document? Obvious prior restraint of the sort that thinking judges reject immediately.
Our rights depend on the judges who are supposed to enforce them. District Judge Curtis Sigur is violating his oath to uphold the constitution. Shame on him.
As for David Groner — well. He's the guy who asked for the prior restraint, including the deletion of a link to a public document about him. How trustworthy is that?
Edited to Add: David Groner had a Facebook post about the paper.
After over 30 years as a subscriber, today I have cancelled my subscription to the Daily Iberian.
For years now, the paper has become a poor choice for area news and certainly is a day or two late on state or national news.
The main reason however is that the paper runs a website that allows anti-Semitic; racist and homophobic rants under the guise of anonymous postings. In addition and in particular, any person in the public view is defamed, attacked and vilified and even when the administrator ( the newspaper) knows of the false defamatory posting, they refuse to remove or censure. Of course there is no way of knowing if the staff at the Daily Iberian is responsible for the postings themselves. They have become smug and arrogant in their claim for " freedom of speech".
I can no longer condone a website that tears at the fabric of our community and therefore have chosen to refuse to buy the newspaper. I have many friends who have previously cancelled their subscription, I now regret it has taken me this long to join them.
Two thoughts: (1) nice scare quotes on "freedom of speech," and (2) don't you think the significant point isn't that you cancelled your subscription but that you sued them and got a lawless court order imposing prior restraint on them?
Last 5 posts by Ken White
- I Wrote About Snoop Dogg But Don't Worry It's Not As Bad As You Think - March 15th, 2017
- Oil Company SG Interests Files Vexatious SLAPP Suit Over Substantially True Facebook Comment - March 9th, 2017
- My Own Name Is A Killing Pony - March 7th, 2017
- Prenda Saga Update: John Steele Pleads Guilty, Admits Entire Scheme - March 6th, 2017
- No, The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel Shouldn't Sue Over "Fake News" - February 20th, 2017