Cop’s Lawfare Fails

Scott Greenfield writes:

[Y]ou have no idea how often someone threatens a lawsuit.  As a lawyer, I’m in a better situation both to assess the merit of a claim, and if needed, to deal with it, than many other bloggers. Others are not so fortunate, leading to the misguided sense that it’s the fault of lawyers that non-lawyers are constantly threatening to sue.

Adding to the problem is the nature of the medium itself, spread around the country, spread around the world. Then there are the pseudonymous threats. Then there are the scrapers. Then there are the butthurt public officials, cops and prosecutors who add their threats to the mix.  It never ends.

In Harris County one butthurt cop, Jacinto City Police Sergeant Dennis Walker, sued an ordinary guy, Larry Schion for complaining to Walker’s bosses—Jacinto City Council—about him in public meetings.

Among the statements Schion has said that were not true, according to [Walker’s lawyer], included allegations that Walker stole money from a vending machine at the police station, lied about various cases and was suspended for using his patrol car for personal reasons.

I don’t know if Dennis Walker is a thief and a liar. I do know that he needs a thicker skin. Schion got himself a lawyer, Michael Fleming, and yesterday State District Judge Elaine Palmer dismissed Walker’s defamation lawsuit under Texas’s new (2011) anti-SLAPP statute, the Texas Citizens’ Participation Act.

The TCPA allows Judge Palmer to order Walker to pay Schion’s attorney’s fees and sanctions:

If the court orders dismissal of a legal action under this chapter, the court shall award to the moving party:

(1) court costs, reasonable attorney’s fees, and other expenses incurred in defending against the legal action as justice and equity may require; and

(2)  sanctions against the party who brought the legal action as the court determines sufficient to deter the party who brought the legal action from bringing similar actions described in this chapter.

The dismissal order shows that the issue of attorney’s fees is left open until Schion files an affidavit (presumably showing the amount of the fees) next Monday.

and

(2)  sanctions against the party who brought the legal action as the court determines sufficient to deter the party who brought the legal action from bringing similar actions described in this chapter.

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