Six-Figure Defamation Win for Larry Klayman
(CN) - Judicial Watch owes its conservative founder Larry Klayman $156,000 in compensatory damages and $25,000 in punitive damages for defamation.
Judicial Watch had entered the public sphere in 1994 with a series of lawsuits against the Clinton administration, but Klayman stepped down in 2006 to run for U.S. Senate and now heads conservative activist group Freedom Watch.
In February 2012, birther queen Orly Taitz had been running for Congress when she took to her website to say that Klayman was convicted of not paying child support.
A Soviet Moldova-born, birther-conspiracy theorist, Taitz's extreme views have gotten her banned from Tea Party events.
She published the allegations about Klayman on Feb. 23, just one day after speaking with Judicial Watch office administrator Constance Ruffley at a meeting of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform.
When Taitz conceded on Feb. 26 that Klayman was never convicted, she blamed Ruffley for the error.
Klayman sued Judicial Watch in 2013, and Miami-based U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga refused to grant the group summary judgment on May 23.
"According to Taitz, Ruffley stated, 'Larry Klayman is not licensed in California, ... that he no longer works with Judicial Watch [,] and that donors should know about litigation in Ohio, where [Klayman] was convicted just recent[y] of not paying large amount[s] of child support," Altonaga wrote.
The judge said "a person reading the statement at issue could reasonably understand it to implicate Klayman's moral character and professional code of ethics."
A federal jury in Miami agreed Tuesday and awarded Klayman damages, the Washington Post reported.
Klayman's claims against Judicial Watch officers over Taitz's statements had not gone to the jury.
In Washington, the attorney was once scolded for his "consistent pattern of engaging in dilatory tactics" and disobedience of the court.
Klayman believes that "West Wing" character Harry Klaypool of Freedom Watch is based on him, court records show.