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Student Blogger Loses Defamation Case

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the small-claims-is-a-bear dept.

Censorship 289

An anonymous reader writes to tell us about Yaman Salahi, a UC Berkeley student and blogger, who lost a lawsuit brought against him by Lee Kaplan, a journalist for FrontPageMag.com. Kaplan had sued Salahi in California small claims court for tortious business interference and libel, in response to a blog Salahi had set up about him called "Lee Kaplan Watch." Salahi lost in small claims court and then lost an "appeal" — which is essentially a retrial by another small-claims judge. No written opinion was offered with either decision, though all other court filings are available. From Salahi's update on his blog: "...because [Kaplan] sued me in small claims court, I did not have the protections of the anti-SLAPP [Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Policy] statute... I will never know why I lost the initial hearing, or why I lost the appeal, because small claims judges are not obligated to release written opinions with their rulings.... I will never have the opportunity to take this to a real appellate court where my first amendment rights might be protected."

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wah wah wah (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19535593)

however, you will have the opportunity to shut the fuck up.

Re:wah wah wah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19535707)

White man always oppressing black man.

All negative opinions expressed forthrightly... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19536019)

...get modded down and tagged with "flamebait" or "troll," as if the moderator had some magical personal insight into the psyche and motivation of the poster.

It doesn't help that the article, and presentation of such, are biased towards the perspective that "this is a miscarriage of justice"; anyone disputing this with any degree of vehemence whatsoever has been modded down as a "troll" or "flamebait". You're simply not allowed to disagree with the preordained conclusion.

Personally, I wouldn't want my name or person being used as the subject of an inflammatory blog, either - would any of you tolerate it without challenge? The blogger lost in court, and this doesn't deserve my sympathy.

Re:All negative opinions expressed forthrightly... (2, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536325)

I think anyone who won't even be told _why_ they lost or have the ability to appeal deserves some sympathy.

Regardless of the merits or guilt of the case, the small claims system has an issue here that has clear abuse potential.

Re:All negative opinions expressed forthrightly... (3, Insightful)

Torvaun (1040898) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536477)

He had the ability to appeal. He used it. He lost again. It'd be nice to know why, sure, but that's not what matters here. He was sued in small claims. There's a hard limit to how much he can lose, which is probably less than all the advertising revenue he's going to get off of being Slashdotted. Odds are, that's why he started posting inflammatory stuff about public figures. It looks to me like he was begging for a lawsuit and all the attention and ad revenue it would bring, but small claims just isn't that newsworthy, so he was stuck. Sucks to fail at gaming the system.

Counterstrike? (1)

autophile (640621) | more than 7 years ago | (#19535645)

Countersuit?

--Rob

Re:Counterstrike? NOPE - waived (1, Informative)

grolaw (670747) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536087)

You have a duty to bring all causes relevant in the original action. The matter is decided and the doctrine of "res judicata" precludes relitigating the same matter. But if someone argues that the case has issues that are still viable there is always "collateral estoppel" - issue/claim preclusion to shut down another action.

Besides, small claims and de novo review of a small claims action are not courts of record and this whole business is trivial beyond most /. CowboyNeil poll answers.

Let it be....

From his site (3, Insightful)

Henry V .009 (518000) | more than 7 years ago | (#19535689)

I would also like to add that if you or anybody you know is ever sued by Lee Kaplan or his questionable affiliates, you should contact a lawyer immediately to explore any and all available options. The earlier the better. Some ideas you might want to look into: (1) countersuing in an amount that is sufficient enough to move the case out of small claims court (greater than $7,500 in California) and/or (2) removing the case to federal court on the grounds of a first-amendment defense.


Looks like things would have gone better if he hadn't made some legal mistakes.

Re:From his site (3, Insightful)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 7 years ago | (#19535711)

You consider that to be a 'legal mistake'?

It looks to me like instead a complicated legal maneuver designed to get around a clear hole in the fairness of the legal system.

I would not consider failing to countersue or failing to move the court to be a legal mistake, using the definition of mistake as failure to engage in proper actions.

Re:From his site (4, Funny)

Henry V .009 (518000) | more than 7 years ago | (#19535743)

Yes I consider it a legal mistake. Not contacting a lawyer is the most basic legal mistake there is.

Re:From his site (0, Redundant)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 7 years ago | (#19535763)

If you are being sued for less than 1,000 then a lawyer will charge you more than you save. In fact, anything less than 2,000 is probably not worth it to get a lawyer.

Given that this is clearly small claims court, and the article did NOT specify the damages he paid, then you do NOT know if he made a mistake or not.

If the damages were say 3,000, then you are probably correct. If not, you are wrong.

The article did say (4, Informative)

Henry V .009 (518000) | more than 7 years ago | (#19535789)

The judge that presided over my appeal decided in Lee Kaplan's favor, ruling that I must pay Kaplan $7,500 in damages plus $75 in court fees.

Re:From his site (2, Informative)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19535843)

It's a mistake anyway. Just because you have to basically be a lawyer to know what the correct move is doesn't mean that anything else is less incorrect.

I've dealt with small claims court matters before; court staff will help you formulate it, sure, but they can't (and won't) give you legal advice.

The best advice, as always- if you are being sued, consult a lawyer. The dollar amount is irrelevant. Even if your lawyer spends thirty minutes to look over the filing and tells you everything you've done is fine, it's worth it.

Re:From his site (1)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536539)

I don't think you understand something here. There's more at stake than just a thousand or two dollars. He now has a judgement against him and it'll ride his credit score for at least seven years if not longer. Depends on how much money he makes (eg. if you apply for a job above a certain amount of compensation, shit lives on your credit report forever.)

But honestly, (and I'm sorry if this sounds trollish) I didn't know which to laugh about "blogger loses defamation case" (because it takes nothing to be a blogger so the headline could be "defendant loses defamation case"), or "student blogger loses defamation case" (because I guess he learned something.)

Re:From his site (2, Informative)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#19535993)

Actually, that would be not showing up to court, which, coincidentally, is how Salahi lost the case the first time around.

Re:From his site (5, Insightful)

dircha (893383) | more than 7 years ago | (#19535997)

"Not contacting a lawyer is the most basic legal mistake there is."

And a system where the legal code is so complex that we have made it a crime for non-certified professionals to attempt to interpret it (in most every state, lobbied for by the same lawyers who want to get paid exhorbitant fees to defend you and to to prosecute you, thank you very much), is a system of INjustice.

Re:From his site (1)

Phil06 (877749) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536135)

If everyone just agreed then we wouldn't need lawyers.

Re:From his site (3, Funny)

digitig (1056110) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536185)

"One lawyer in a town starves to death. Two lawyers in a town live in luxury."

Re:From his site (2, Informative)

Kjella (173770) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536493)

Ever notice how lawyers on slashdot, even when they're 99% more likely to be correct than the average slashdotter, point out that "this is not legal advice"? Giving poor or wrong advice can lead to huge economic losses or even jail time. Usually they have a very costly insurance in case they screw up. and in practise I doubt anyone would insure anyone but a certified professional. And even if that were true, then incompetent legal advice isn't a defense in court and so you might not be able to "undo" the damage with money. Limiting it to civil cases won't help - what's the damage if you lose custody over your child because of crap legal advice? Could it really be fixed with money?

I mean, it's one thing if I give some scabbled-on-the-back-of-a-napkin opinion here, it's quite another if I started charging you money for the service of legal advice. To compare it with another profession with much the same requirements - would you be happy if the guy next door could claim to be a doctor and offer medical advice? What would you think happens the day he overlooks clear signs of a serious disease or injury? It won't be pretty, that's for sure. There's a lot of good legal resources which speak for the general case, in the same way as medical symptoms of various diseases. But if I'm asking about my case specificly, I'd like a certified professional and I sure as hell don't want any slashlawyers who think they're qualified to have an opinion. Sorry.

Re:From his site (2, Insightful)

garoo (203070) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536033)

Except that he did contact a lawyer. From the latest post on his blog:

I want to especially thank my excellent lawyer, Adam Gutride, without whose generous moral and legal support I would not have been able to get through the past few months. He put himself at great risk by defending me and, despite this, he insisted on taking the case and invested many hours and much effort into it.

So presumably his decisions were based on advice from said lawyer - unless the lawyer wasn't involved until too late a stage, etc.

A legal 'mistake' was being found guilty (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 7 years ago | (#19535851)

It was a failure for this individual to not protect himself. Let's count the ways: 1) should have retained counsel 2) should have counterclaimed immediately 3) could have chosen a different venue 4) could have chosen a different court , 5) might have been more clear about the content of the blog, so as to remove any possible doubt of malice of forethought, which is required in most libel and slander litigation 6) might have considered other remedies, including bankruptcy variants, or bar review.

The system isn't fair, and it tipped in the favor of better counsel, or whomever can overwhelm the judge with 'evidence'. The preponderance of evidence is what sways the case, should the unlikely event that the case is somehow brought up for review. Evidence by the truckload usually does it. To counter the evidence, lots of discovery should ensue, making it all that tougher. This is small claims, not a circuit or higher court using almost anything but magistrates.... who are essentially out of work lawyers.

This is a racial dispute. (4, Informative)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 7 years ago | (#19535745)

My understanding is that both sides have engaged in tainted, sensationalist reporting related to Arab/Israeli issues.

Kaplan is the pro-Israel writer.

Regards.

Re:This is a racial dispute. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19535877)

Yes, but here at Slashdot, Israel is *always* in the wrong without question.

Re:This is a racial dispute. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19536207)

Since when? Slashdot is a tech news site, not a middle east issues website. Israel gets rarely mentioned, if ever.

Sensationalist garbage.

Re:This is a racial dispute. (-1, Flamebait)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536585)

Yes, but here at Slashdot, Israel is *always* in the wrong without question.


In reality (not just on Slashdot). Israel usually is wrong.

I don't think you can bash a whole community for the fact that:

1. Israel stole and continues to steal land from a very economically small and politically marginal community.
2. Israel is pretty much a defacto religious state that holds up the religious beliefs and values of their largest supporter: the USA.
3. It is no surprise to me that anybody would lose a lawsuit in the US for countering the pro-Israel lobby, much less in a small claims court where Judge Judy types have pretty much free reign to do what they want.

Where I live (in Canada), there are serious concerns about being charged with a hate crime and being accused of being a racist for publicly disagreeing with the apartheid-like state that is Isreal. Granted there is at least some political debate, but the pro-Israel lobby in Canada is much more right-wing than in the US, and for me at least, slashdot is a relatively safe place where I can post without fear of a libel suit or a hate crime suit by some right wing organization.

Re:This is a racial dispute. (1)

Das Modell (969371) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536153)

I can't believe Yaman Salahi started a blog for the sole purpose of picking apart everything Lee Kaplan writes on the Internet.

Why this is in /.? (0, Troll)

dberstein (648161) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536031)

As a long time member of Slashdot and as an Israeli citizen, I fail to see the connection between this story and /. What made it /.-ish?
  • A student vs. a pro?
  • A blogger vs. another blogger?
  • Pro Israel vs. Pro Palestinians? (*)
I thought Groklaw [groklaw.net] was for David vs. Goliath legal affairs.

(*) I reserve my personal interpretation to myself (Am I pro something? Being pro something is not compatible with being pro something-else?).

See Topic: YRO (2, Insightful)

Alaren (682568) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536187)

It means "Your Rights Online." Actually it's not even abbreviated on the main page before the title of the article.

A blogger vs. another blogger?

Hmmmm, could that be it? Blog, from "web log..." Issues of free speech involved (at least, that's the argument being made)... online... hmmm, you're right, I don't see the connection either.

Alright, sorry, I should turn the sarcasm down a bit I guess. Are you honestly asking how this is a /. story or are you trolling? If you're genuinely ignorant, you might want to check here [slashdot.org] . Otherwise, well, I guess I just took the bait.

Re:From his site (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19536435)

Looks like things would have gone better if he hadn't made some legal mistakes.

Such as making repeated libelous statements about one individual guy...

Re:From his site (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19536619)

Raising a "federal defense" such as a defense based on a federal constitutional right, does not get you into federal court. He should have filed a declaratory action, and sought injunctive relief.... both of which would have been beyond the jurisdiction of small claims court and gotten him into "big" court.

wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19535709)

people still use Windows?

I have a tag suggestion (0, Flamebait)

Myopic (18616) | more than 7 years ago | (#19535721)

Tag this story: yawn

Re:I have a tag suggestion (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19535827)

What do you mean? This is clearly news of astounding, ground breaking importance to geeks everywhere. Are you implying that it may simply be a boring column-inch whine-fest of a petty dispute between a college kid and a hack that no one cares about? Do you wish to imply this isn't of any interest what-so-ever to any geek, being as it doesn't relate to IT or any other geeky pursuit at all, other than the libel was committed "online" in a "blog". Don't you know that if it it happens on the internet, it must be Slashdot worthy news?

Sir! I am ashamed. Slashdot is the premier place to discuss law, your "rights" (Apparently of the "online" variety, but the "offline" rights get just as much coverage), politics and flame-fests.

Slashdot: abandoning it's core readership since 1999!

Re:I have a tag suggestion (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#19535925)

About as exciting as that second girlfriend that still stalks you to this day huh ?

Re:I have a tag suggestion (5, Insightful)

ASBands (1087159) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536509)

Agreed. Some guy commits the very definition of libel and is sued for libel. He appeals and the appellate judge still thinks he committed libel. It happens all the time. From what I know, they're not going to let him appeal to a higher court, because the higher courts read the case and say: "This is a clear act of libel and it's only seven and a half grand." Why the hell should we care? You ARE responsible for what you say, even on the internet. Case closed.

Right of Appeal (2, Informative)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 7 years ago | (#19535723)

To deny you your right to Appeal [ca.gov] to a real court would be to deny you your right to due process.

Re:Right of Appeal (1)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19535865)

Nobody denied him his rights, he just didn't know how to exercise them, apparently.

Anyway, SCC is a real court. Now, do you have a right to appeal to the supreme court for your jurisdiction? Likely so (even if it is eventually, through other layers of court.)

Re:Right of Appeal (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19536349)

Salahi did appeal this case. Three times. Each time the new judge found against him after a complete trial. He had legal advice from day one and is lying here the same as he did on his blog. Kaplan had a good case. Creating a blog then smearing somene with false accusations of illegal activity on it, plus threatening that persons business assocaites is not freedom of speech, it's criminal.

Unbelievable! The guy's website is still there (4, Insightful)

mbstone (457308) | more than 7 years ago | (#19535751)

I will never know why I lost the initial hearing, or why I lost the appeal.

Maybe on the merits? Mr. Salahi's website describes Mr. Kaplan as a "fraudulent journalist," which is another way of alleging he's incompetent to do his job, which the law calls "libel per se."

Anyway, the offending website is still up, so presumably Mr. Kaplan can sue Mr. Salahi yet again and win a second judgment for another $7,575.

no dog

Thank you. (1)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 7 years ago | (#19535867)

And I'd like to add, why does this guy have a website dedicated to this person?

That in itself seams a bit obsessive and maybe seams that Salahi has some sort of vendetta or something against Kaplan. It's as if Salahi is out get Kaplan: not to show fraudulent journalism.

Why doesn't Salahi go after other journalists that do the same thing as Kaplan?

Re:Thank you. (2, Insightful)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536029)

Just to keep some perspective: I catch flak for negatively mentioning Ubuntu once a month in slashdot posts. Imagine if I put up a website!

Re:Thank you. (1)

Das Modell (969371) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536251)

The popular site Jihad Watch has a blog dedicated to it too. It consists of nothing but dissecting JW posts, and not in a particularly intelligent manner.

I'm seeing a pattern.

I don't think so. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#19535899)

Maybe on the merits? Mr. Salahi's website describes Mr. Kaplan as a "fraudulent journalist," which is another way of alleging he's incompetent to do his job, which the law calls "libel per se."

If the case were really so cut and dried, Kaplan would have eaten this guy alive in a real court instead of fooling around with small claims. I have a feeling that we will hear more about this.

Re:I don't think so. (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#19535905)

Salahi's a college student. Is there a point to suing somebody for gazillions of dollars they don't have?

Re:I don't think so. (0, Troll)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536021)

Just because someone's poor doesn't mean he gets to commit crimes.

You can't personally attack people in print without a solid basis of fact. That seems to be a *good* law. I applaud mr. Kaplan for excercising his rights, and I feel no sympathy for someone who was obviously just making a large ad-hominem attack.

What was the content they argued about anyway ?

Re:I don't think so. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19536193)

It is a tort, not a crime.

In what sense is Parent "insightful" (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19536209)

How can any post that says,

"I conclude this guy is wrong" followed by "what were they arguing about anyway?"

be deemed insightful?

Re:I don't think so. (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536047)

surely that's the American Way?

Probably the small claims judgement was enough to prove your case is valid and your reputation remains untarnished with whatever the defendant claimed. You can always point to the judgement and say that a judge sided with you given all the details both you and the defendant gave. Perhaps the monetary aspect is unimportant to Kaplan in comparison, and probably taking a case to the full courts is unnecessary - and dangerous given the cost of lawyers and the time it all takes.

A small claims court is possibly much more like real justice without all the legal baggage and vested interest that's built up over time.

Re:I don't think so. (3, Informative)

mbstone (457308) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536231)

One of the oddities of the court system is that no court cares, nor can any court know for certain, what you can "afford" or how much money you "have." Nobody knows whether a losing party to a lawsuit has (or does not have) cash hidden under a mattress, or a rich uncle with six months to live. Maybe Mr. Salahi will be able to get a job when he gets out of college and Mr. Kaplan will be able to file a wage garnishment. Maybe someday Mr. Salahi will inherit real estate or win the lottery. Since the lawsuit was based on an "intentional tort," could be Mr. Salahi won't be able to avoid it even if he files for bankruptcy. A judgment creditor can subject a judgment debtor to various kinds of unpleasantness and hassle even if the debtor is truly "judgment proof." Judgments in California earn 10% annual interest, and they can be renewed every 10 years, forever. IAAL.

small claims court is NOT evil. (5, Informative)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536229)

If the case were really so cut and dried, Kaplan would have eaten this guy alive in a real court instead of fooling around with small claims.

There are half a dozen comments already in the story, along the lines of "man, what a scumbag, suing in small claims!" or "small claims court sucks, OMG, NO RIGHTS USA SUXORS!"

You have the right to request a small claims court case be moved to a "real" court. You may have to do so immediately, however. There is nothing preventing you from bringing a lawyer with you to small claims court.

Small claims court is a place where a common man who can't afford a lawyer, actually stands a chance. Evidence standards are dropped for both sides, and at least in my state, the laws supporting small claims court state that everyone, from clerk to judge, needs to work to assist both parties as they are *laymen*. It instructs them to be helpful, explain stuff, and be lenient with minor technicalities in paperwork and procedure for the same reason. In "real" court, if you mis-spelled the defendant's name in your filing, you'd risk get your case tossed out. In small claims court, the clerk says, "uh, you mean Smith, not Simth, right?", and everyone moves on.

With the exception of borrowers using lawyers pushing lawsuits through small claims court to sue debtors with lots of bad/false/misleading evidence, small claims court is an excellent service to the public. It fills the niche of crimes the cops don't care about in dollar amounts lawyers cost too much for.

The blogger in this case was too stupid to fire up a browser and start reading how small claims court works in his state- or he simply lost his case because the other side (gasp!) had a legitimate claim. Either way, cry me a river.

Small Claims are for Small Claims. (-1, Flamebait)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536583)

There are half a dozen comments already in the story, along the lines of "man, what a scumbag, suing in small claims!" or "small claims court sucks, OMG, NO RIGHTS USA SUXORS!"

I'm not going to defend your strawmen or answer your other flambait.

I'm just going to note, again, that it was in Kapplan's best interest to take this beyond small claims court and that makes the case stink. Small claims court is a fine place for ... small claims, you know, damage less than $10,000. It's not a very good place to defend your reputation or to sue for liable, unless you consider those things so cheaply. It's also not a place to decide free speech issues. If Kapplan had a real case, he would have made it in a real court that could take the blog down. Nothing kept him from doing that, except perhaps for a complete lack of a case.

Kapplan's little scheme could not have backfired any bigger than this. The blogger is going to look back at the $7,500 he just lost as money well spent. There is no other way he could have gotten this kind of coverage for his cause.

Re:Unbelievable! The guy's website is still there (2, Insightful)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536067)

If you read the student's blog, he was not sued for defamation -- in fact, he was sued for "tortious business interference".

Re:Unbelievable! The guy's website is still there (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536205)

I will never know why I lost the initial hearing, or why I lost the appeal.

Maybe on the merits?
I can understand that he might actually want to know what those merits were, though.

Indeed: YAWN!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19535769)

Blogger vs Journalist in the court.. in the blog.. on crapdot...

And nobody does really care because both are retarded, attention whores or both.

I'll lean back and wait for the next Jack Thompson article. He's a attention whore too but at least he's funny.

Maybe he should hire a lawyer (4, Informative)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#19535793)

Seriously. It took me two minutes to find this:

California Codes 116.710.(b) The defendant with respect to the plaintiff's
claim, and a plaintiff with respect to a claim of the defendant, may appeal
the judgment to the superior court in the county in which the action was heard.

Re:Maybe he should hire a lawyer (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#19535853)

Okay, I take that back partially. After going through the court records, he did get his appeal in Superior Court, and he lost. Why he feels the need to whine about it on Slashdot is beyond me.

Re:Maybe he should hire a lawyer (0, Flamebait)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536039)

He was convicted for using a large-scale ad-hominem attack against a journalist he didn't like ... and you ask why he's wining ?

You're kidding right ? Wining without substance is all this idiot knows how to do. That's why he was convicted in the first place.

(hmmm Kaplan seems to be a pretty right-wing blogger. That explains why a leftist nut felt entitled to attack him. Kaplan doesn't seem overly extreme though)

Re:Maybe he should hire a lawyer (1)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536489)

(hmmm Kaplan seems to be a pretty right-wing blogger. That explains why a leftist nut felt entitled to attack him. Kaplan doesn't seem overly extreme though)
I'm not familiar with Kaplan or their ongoing feud, but FrontPageMag is definitely a right-wing -- or at least, neocon website. I'm very conservative/libertarian, and find very little to agree with on frontpagemag most of the time. It's very Israel oriented which quite frankly bores me. Those two sides can fling shit back and forth between themselves for eternity and never get anywhere :)

Re:Maybe he should hire a lawyer (2, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536045)

So the statement that he was not allowed to appeal is false? It seems to me that this story does not rise to any reasonable journalistic standard. Perfect for slashdot.

Just a possibility (2, Insightful)

Bombula (670389) | more than 7 years ago | (#19535809)

I will never know why I lost the initial hearing, or why I lost the appeal.

Maybe because you didn't have enough money to hire a real lawyer? Another victory for the $ystem.

Re:Just a possibility (1)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 7 years ago | (#19535895)

Perhaps he should learn the lesson that his actions have consequences - even if those actions are writing words on the internet.

no lawyers in small claims (1)

dinodriver (577264) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536401)

In California, lawyers are generally not allowed in small claims court. One would need special permission from a judge to be able to be represented by a lawyer. One can of course hire one on the side for advice though, and it sounds like this might have been a good idea in this case!

Non-story. (3, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#19535921)

A man was libeled, he sued, he won. The defendant appealed and lost. Happens all the time.

-jcr

Re:Non-story. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19536017)

Very succinct jcr, I agree completely.

Something that gets misunderstood all the time (especially on Slashdot) is that freedom of speech is NOT freedom from consequences. The government did not stop Salahi from saying whatever he wanted on his blog, so it's not a censorship or free speech issue. Sometimes there are consequences to saying/writing things though, as Salahi found out.

Appeal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19535943)

"Salahi lost in small claims court and then lost an "appeal" -- which is essentially a retrial by another small-claims judge."

Wrong, Small Claims appeals are handled by a Superior Court Judge. Been there, done that, won both.

Small claims limits? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19535965)

I know they vary place to place but what's the rough limit around the US?

"Student Blogger"? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19535967)

How about "Antisemetic terrorist sympathizer fuckhead waging a disinformation campaign", and got called on it. Boo hoo. Look a little closer at the 'student blogger'.

Jesus. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19535977)

No written opinion was offered with either decision, though all other court filings [ca.gov] are available.
Wow, that page with the court filings is awful. You can choose to view the documents either as "Image (Java)", that is, a tiff file being read through a Java applet, I assume or "Image (Tiff)" which if you try to save, my browser wants to name them "fortecgi.exe". Also, there's one image per page, so if you want to actually read these documents you're either stuck waiting for a Java applet to load for each page (over 100), saving and renaming each page or, if you have a plug-in installed that lets you view TIFFs in your browser (i.e. quicktime) then you're stuck waiting for that to load for each page.

Is it so hard to make a PDF out of all those TIFFs so that you can easily download a whole document? Or at least converting the images to JPGs so that they can be easily viewed in the browser?

The Kaplan - Salani dispute explained (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19536009)

Kaplan is a conservative journalist, who writes for Frontpage Magazine (a conservative magazine) and also Israeli News.

Salani is a radical Muslim student from radical Berkeley. Who from the looks of the suit defamed the man. Likely as part of the "legal jihad" that the radical Muslim students engage in on Universities and Colleges.

UCI has lots of harassment, over-anti Semitic speech, and speeches by people such as Daniel Pipes shut down by Muslim students threatening violence or shouting down the speakers. Well known anti-Semitic hotspots in the Academy such as Columbia (where over anti-Semitism is not just tolerated but encouraged, witness the NY Sun articles about Jewish students complaining about it), the UK (where universities are boycotting Israeli Universities, Professors, and any and all research from those universities), and of course Berkeley provide an environment where Muslim and Leftist anti-Semitism are as natural as breathing and slander, libel, and defamation of Jews and Conservatives are a matter of course.

I have no doubt that Salani in such an environment would feel entitled to commit any of these: slander, libel, defamation of character. Because if the target is a Jew or Conservative (or both) the Academy encourages it. It is however actionable and I'm glad Mr. Kaplan brought suit.

If anyone doubts what I say, merely check out any Muslim Student Association speaker on a campus near you. See for yourself. Or check out any conservative or Jewish event on campus and witness the disruption, intimidation, and threats of violence. Columbia University students rushing the stage and assaulting the Minutemen Speakers who were there to discuss their organization as part of the Campus Republican's events come to mind. But you can easily check the accuracy of the above statements by visiting a campus and seeing for yourself.

If you equate Israel with Judaism... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19536085)

...then it is you who are the anti-Semite. It is not only people in the UK, and in fact in nearly every other country in the world (going by General Assembly resolutions) who are against the Israeli occupation, won in a war of conquest in 1967. It is also a very large minority of the Jewish Israeli population itself. It is absolutely disgusting to equate the policies of the Israeli government with the Jewish people, and to equate anti-Israel sentiment (which stems from those policies) with anti-Jewish sentiment.

Re:If you equate Israel with Judaism... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19536617)

My god, you know nothing of the 1967 war, do you. Go read Michael Oren's excellent book (considered the standard treatise on it) before you waste our time again. Apparently the term Casus Belli means nothing to you. Why do you and the rest of the world insist that Israel do nothing, not a thing, to defend themselves against aggressive acts, say like the homicide bombings, while simultaneously clapping the terrorists and their enablers on the backs, handing them money so they can buy weapons to kill more jews? No my dear, anti-Israel is unfortunately anti-Jewish. You can disagree with the Israeli government, that is fine. But to encourage enemies of Israel, to give aide and comfort to terrorists is simply not reasonable, or rational. That is antisemitic. You don't like the label, you reject it? Look deeply into your own motivations before you answer.

Muslim Arabs are semites too, dumbass (2, Informative)

Kiaser Wilhelm II (902309) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536173)

Jews are not the only Semites of the world, and criticism of Israel and its policies is hardly criticism of an entire people (let alone, all the world's Semitic people which include far more than just ethnic Jews).

Re:Muslim Arabs are semites too, dumbass (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536297)

So I guess all white people are guilty of Treblinka too. Ok, line up and let me put a bullet in your head.

Re:Muslim Arabs are semites too, dumbass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19536415)

Look up the definition of the word "anti-Semitism", you dumbass. Despite the meaning of the word Semite, the word anti-Semitism itself specifically means discrimination against Jews.

Re:Muslim Arabs are semites too, dumbass (1)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536519)

Jews are not the only Semites of the world, and criticism of Israel and its policies is hardly criticism of an entire people (let alone, all the world's Semitic people which include far more than just ethnic Jews).
That's pretty irrelevant. Despite pedantic semantic playing around, "anti-semitic" ONLY refers to Jews. Yes, there are plenty of others that could be called semites--including Muslims (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, whatever--it's not a religious thing like you imply) but that has nothing to do with the word.

I would agree that criticizing Israel and its policies does not make you anti-semitic though. DESPITE the fact that Israel IS a Jewish state, criticizing a country is not criticizing a religious people!

Re:The Kaplan - Salani dispute explained (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19536341)

Criticism of Israel isnt reserved for Muslims. Why single them out?
 
The current UK boycott of Israeli universities is long overdue, and I hope is only the start of a large international economic embargo of Israel. Their brutal treatment of Palestinians and their current ruthless occupation of Palestinian land can not be allowed to continue any longer.
 
Israel is the South Africa of the 21st Century. The international community knows it. Its only a matter of time before Israeli society realises it.
 
Itll sink in sooner or later.

Bizarre Subject for Slashdot (-1, Flamebait)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536049)

Why is this important enough to be posted on Slashdot? Yaman Salahi is a de facto supporter of terrorism (which indicates a lack of editorial oversight in that his claims are taken at face value on Slashdot). He has the audacity to compare his situation with "Dred Scott decision, or Plessy v. Ferguson," and then lamely retracts the comparison in the next paragraph. Yaman Salahi knowingly defamed Lee Kaplan, and then tried, and continues, to plead ignorance of the law as a defense. Lee Kaplan sued. He won. Justice served, the system works, defamation, especially in the furtherance of ethnic hatred, is not legal.

Re:Bizarre Subject for Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19536097)

Ever think that calling someone a "de facto supporter of terrorism" might get you in court?

Re:Bizarre Subject for Slashdot (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19536137)

MSTCrow5429 wrote:
>
> Yaman Salahi is a de facto supporter of terrorism

You mean he voted for Bush?

Re:Bizarre Subject for Slashdot (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19536449)

defamation, especially in the furtherance of ethnic hatred, is not legal.

It should be. If you feel that it's alright to hate Bush, and say as much, so long as you're not threatening to physically harm him... then why is this any different?

I may not agree with his opinions. Indeed, I may feel this guy is a completely bigoted asshole. But if he's not making death threats, I can't in good conscience say "He has no right to speak."

Re:Bizarre Subject for Slashdot (1)

ChrisMaple (607946) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536627)

Bush, like all major politicians, is a public person, and cannot be defamed in a legal sense.

Anyway, the case involved more than simple defamation. Salahi threatened third parties in an attempt to hurt Kaplan's ability to earn a living. Kaplan suffered actual financial damages as a result. The fact that Salahi used threats makes moot the usual defense of "My claims were true."

Diggy-Style Revolt? (1)

dasunst3r (947970) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536055)

I'd be very interested in seeing what happens if people copy-and-pasted this article en-masse similar to the 09-F9-11-02-9D... key on their sites and Google-bomb this.

Who's rights? (1)

rockhome (97505) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536103)

Why file this under "Your Rights Online"? The rights rights guranteed in the constitution, are, in general, protections
of an individual against government action. There is no first ammendment issue in this case, as the governemtn is
not bringing action against the individual.

I don't believe that htis can be considered as a miscarriage of justice, but rather one individual's poor defense against
another. Salahi's blog takes every opportunity to question the integrity of Kaplan and his reporting, and is solely dedicated
to this one individual. It is reasonable to assume this blog was created for the singular purpose of disparaging Kaplan, with
no other viable content.

How any of this has to do with anyone's right is a mystery to me.

Re:Who's rights? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19536161)

There is no first ammendment issue in this case, as the governemtn is not bringing action against the individual.

That is not true. The government is enforcing a law that is punishing someone for their speech. While the courts have long ruled that some types of speech do not get 1st Amendment protection, the general idea still stands.

If the power of the government is being used, then the 1st Amendment applies. The only exception there is is contract law, which pretty much allows those in the contract to sign away all except for a few rights.

Re:Who's rights? (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536243)

I don't believe that htis can be considered as a miscarriage of justice, but rather one individual's poor defense against another. Salahi's blog takes every opportunity to question the integrity of Kaplan and his reporting, and is solely dedicated to this one individual. It is reasonable to assume this blog was created for the singular purpose of disparaging Kaplan, with no other viable content.

This is a miscarriage of justice because a reporter is considered a public figure. The Supreme Court has found that public figures, because they lead a public life have less expectations of privacy and open themselves up to criticism. Therefore, Kaplan is not held to the same standard of privacy and rights against libel. Salahi is technically not guilty of anything so long as he does not advocate criminal acts directed to the reporter. Salahi has a right to appeal to a higher a court. Let's look at the tabloids and what they say about the celebrities. They spread all kinds of slander and garbage yet none can really be touched. Why? Celebrities lead public lives. A reporter does much the same.

Re:Who's rights? (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536407)

I'm curious, please post the court decision which is the precedent for any reporter whatsoever being a public figure.

Re:Who's rights? (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536553)

It is reasonable to assume this blog was created for the singular purpose of disparaging Kaplan, with
no other viable content.


There is nothing illegal about disparaging someone if it is true.

Why i hate blacks (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19536175)

Here is a list of reasons why we should discriminate against blacks,
starting from the most obvious down to the least obvious:

  Blacks hate us. Every Asian who has ever come across them knows
they take almost every opportunity to hurl racist remarks at us.

In my experience, I would say about 90 percent of blacks I have
met, regardless of age or environment, poke fun at the very sight
of an Asian. Furthermore, their activity in the media proves their
hatred: Rush Hour, Exit Wounds, Hot '97, etc.

  Contrary to media depictions, I would argue to blacks are
weak-willed. They are the only race that has been enslaved for 300
years. It's unbelievable that it took them that long to fight back.

On the other hand, we slaughtered the Russians in the
Japanese-Russo war.

  Blacks are easy to coerce. This is proven by the fact that so
many of them, including Reverend Al Sharpton, tend to be Christians.

Yet, at the same time, they spend much of their time whining about
how much they hate "the whites that oppressed them."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Christianity the religion that
the whites forced upon them?

  Blacks don't get it. I know it's a blunt and crass comment,
but it's true. When I was in high school, I recall a class debate
in which one half of the class was chosen to defend black slavery
and the other half was chosen to defend liberation.

Disturbingly, blacks on the prior side viciously defended slavery
as well as Christianity. They say if you don't study history,
you're condemned to repeat it.

In high school, I only remember one black student ever
attending any of my honors and AP courses. And that student was
caught cheating.

Not related to blog (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19536203)

Read the court docs. The defendant sent emails to businesses saying he would ruin them if they didn't stop hiring this guy. It has nothing to do with his posting stuff on his blog. He certainly deserved to lose.

Go to the world court (0, Flamebait)

Snaller (147050) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536227)

Oh yes, the US doesn't recognize that does it.

Too annoying when you want to violate human rights.

So was he really guilty? (4, Informative)

Snaller (147050) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536241)

According to these guys:

http://www.dafka.org/NewsGen.asp?S=4&PageID=1663 [dafka.org]

Quote:

The student set up a smear website against Kaplan where he fabricated stories that Kaplan had been sued for libel, posed as a congressional staffer and engaged in criminal activities.

Hello? If that is the case, it sounds like he deserved to loose.

Re:So was he really guilty? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19536597)

to lose [reference.com]

Practice (1)

Glass Lizard (997672) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536273)

This student set up a website for the sole purpose of slinging mud at one journalist. Losing a sum of money in court might be something he should get used to.

concerned blogger (0, Troll)

moneyning.com (1112033) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536345)

As a blogger, I'm a little concerned that something we do would be subject to legal action. Bring back the freedom of speech please.

If you don't know the law of libel, don't blog! (1)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536571)

Of course something you do as a blogger could be subject to legal action! Did you think blogging was somehow a magic fairyland where you get to say whatever you like about somebody without having to put up with the consequences? Your free speech stops, and always has stopped, when you start defaming other people. Just because it goes on all the time on the Web, and bloggers get away with it, doesn't make it right -- or safe to do. One blogger just learned the hard way that there's a limit to people's tolerance for abuse, and damn right too.

From the horse's mouth (5, Informative)

yamansalahi (1116421) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536347)

Well, I am the defendant in this case. Though I've been a slashdot reader for at least 8 years, this is the first time I've felt compelled to post a comment, let alone create an account. I've looked over some of the comments above and it looks to me like one thing that the summary misses completely are the merits of the case. I suppose it is partially my fault because I haven't written about that yet, though anybody that looks through the court documents can see what is going on. I would advise people to please take a look at the court documents and consider the content of the blog before jumping to conclusions. A note for those who think the website wrongs in focusing on Lee Kaplan: the title is a parody of the group CampusWatch, with which Lee Kaplan was once affiliated, if he is not today.

I will not respond to some of the other ridiculous things people have said above regarding politics and terrorism.

Here is a brief summary that I think Slashdot readers especially will find illuminating:

1) On the defamation charge

Lee Kaplan presented one allegation against me during the trial regarding defamation. In this regard he claimed that my website had the phrase "Lee Kaplan is a douchebag" and linked to another site with his face photoshopped on to gay porn. Had these allegations been true, he very well might have had a legitimate claim against me. However, these allegations were false and he presented them knowing that.

My website does NOT contain the phrase "Lee Kaplan is a douchebag." However, this spoof of my website on YTMND does (http://leekaplanwatch.ytmnd.com). Lee Kaplan printed this screenshot out and submitted it to the court as evidence, claiming that he got it by taking a screenshot of my website. He further lied and claimed that when clicking on the phrase, it would take you to another page on YTMND with the pornographic photo (http://doucheparty.ytmnd.com/). However, if that phrase was indeed a link to that page, it would appear in the same color as the other links.

The important things are: 1) the material he claims is defamatory was never on my website, nor was it anything I was involved in authoring or disseminating; and 2) he knowingly lied about how he found the materials and lied when explaining their source.

For those who are interested, Lee Kaplan is on the ytmnd site in the first place because he threatened to sue its owner over another site on their server mocking him.

2) On tortious business interference

Lee Kaplan alleged that e-mails I sent to his webhost complaining about defamatory material he posted about me (alleging I was a member of the US Nazi Party) were actually e-mails sent to his employer. QuantumMedia is listed on every page on his websites; I had every reason to believe this was his webhost and I had every right to file an abuse complaint.

Later, Kaplan claimed that after my e-mails, the individual at QuantumMedia, Haim Kamer, renigged on a promise to hire him as the editor for a sports blogging website called SportsBlogger.com. In my opinion, the likelihood of such a job existing at all is slim--I still believe the story to be entirely fabricated, and I think that that is a reasonable conclusion given that: 1) I have never seen, or been able to find, any sports writing by Lee Kaplan; 2) SportsBlogger.com did not exist last summer, and it does not exist this year either. What Kaplan showed in court as evidence of a passworded website-in-development was simply the standard default page for a new blog, populated with Latin text. 3) Lee claims he lost a $40,000 job offer, but sued e for only $7,500 in small claims court. 5) In an e-mail to me, Haim Kamer wrote that he had not spoken to Kaplan in 5 years. One month later he wrote a letter to the court under oath contradicting that statement. 6) There was no contract ever presented in court proving that such a job offer ever even existed. 7) if you really think about it: what blogger gets paid $40,000 a year, especially one whose own websites are filled with grammar, spelling, and technical errors?

All of the e-mails exchanged between myself and Haim Kamer are visible on the court's website under the link posted in my update on the blog (check exhibits M-O or something on the anti-SLAPP motion). If you read through them, you can see 1) that there is not even a reference to this blog in them; 2) that Kamer's response was immediately and irrationally hostile and it is unlikely he ever believed anything written in my e-mails let alone on this website; 3) Kamer's remarks to me and references to "you people" and "your friends" confuse me and suggest that his response to me is based on a racist conception he has of "my people" and "my friends." You can also notice that I was very cordial and straightforward through all the e-mails. Most importantly, you will notice that I never contacted Kamer in the context of him being an "employer;" in fact, I had no knowledge to lead me to believe that Kamer had, or ever would, be employing Lee Kaplan. I simply thought that kamer was Kaplan's webhost because his company was linked on every page of Kaplan's websites. I can't commit tortious business interference if I don't even know about the business I am supposedly "interfering" in.

MOD UP (0, Redundant)

VisceralLogic (911294) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536461)

The guy's here explaining himself.

Re:From the horse's mouth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19536481)

I was in the gallery watching this case and all the documents are online at the Alameda COunty Courts website.

Salahi lost because he lied to the judge and from the docuemtns it is plain he consistently lied to the rpevious judges. He dodged being served even though he knew he was sued, he fabricated libelous chargtes and worked with an internet gang to defame a respected journalist. He had free legal help. He bragged he could not be sued because anything he wrote, no matter how untrue or injurious was protected free speech. In court it was shown he consistently lied and engaged in a deliberate campaign to damage the personal reputation and career of someone who supports Israel.
Salahi was given several chances to prevail. ALthough he lknowingly refused to show up for the first hearing the judge vacated that judgement. He had a second hearing with a superior court judge, not a magistrate and lost. His defense was only the same smear articles he fabricated then had his friends promulgate on the Web for him.
The final appeal was before another established Superior Court judge, and Salahi was caught lying to the judge again. The blog is
designed to attack only one individual, a form of stalking and contains numerous libelous entries. Salahi threatened that individuals business associates. From what I read on the court website, one internet host described Salahis activities as the equivalent of a "drive by shooting on the Internet." Kaplan did not accuse Salahi of being a Nazi either. The article Salahi refeered to Kaplan said by being a major booster of divesting from Israel on the UC Berkeley campus, that he supported divestment exactly like the Nazis started their campaign against the Jews in 1933. No story here...move along.

Nothing to see here folks, move along (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19536515)

There is a huge backstory on all of this. Kaplan is not as negatively perceived as the "blogger" likes to claim. The blogger is sympathetic to the ISM who are known tools of, and aide and abet enemies of the US and our allies. The blogger is hostile towards points of view that they do not share or sanction. That this blogger denigrates any ideas or views not his own is quite well known.

This has nothing to do with *your rights online*. This has a great deal to do with idiots who go beyond reasonable lines getting their asses handed to them when brought to task about it in a court of law. Twice.

This blogger, using this term loosely, ran afoul of the law by stepping over a line, and was called to task for it. He brands anyone who disagrees with him as racist. Or orientalist, using that term as an epithet. This is unfortunately too common in the parties of the left in the US. They believe in freedom of speech. Their own speech, no one elses. They decry as assaults, taking them to task for their speech.

This from people who wrap themselves in the flag and first amendment when convenient, and then burn said flag when they feel the desire. Disgusting.

The courts did nothing wrong here. The blogger did. He should pay his fine, take his lumps, and STFU.

Our rights are only at risk when we listen to this blogger cloud the issue of what free speech and censorship really are.

In Indiana (1)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 7 years ago | (#19536631)

you have 10 days to file to move a small claims action to superior court. Of course this is not what our constitution says as we have an unlimited right to trial by jury in civil or criminal matters but it is better than most states laws.

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