WASHINGTON (CN) – A federal judge has brushed off a lawsuit against the Washington Post and the Department of Justice by a well-to-do Baltimore man who wrote a manuscript about getting away with the murder of his father.
William Bond beat his father to death with a hammer in 1981. As a 17-year-old minor, he pleaded guilty in juvenile court and was released after several months of psychological treatment at Sheppard Pratt in Baltimore.
In the 1990s, Bond authored a manuscript about a juvenile boy who kills his father, explaining that it is a “highly embellished” and “fictionalized” version of his past.
The Washington Post detailed Bond’s unsuccessful struggle to preserve control of that manuscript, and what became of that troubled juvenile, in 2001. Bond became a tennis instructor, ping-pong enthusiast and ex-husband to a wealthy heiress, according to the Post.
Though Bond characterized that article as unflattering, he contacted its author, Manuel Roig-Franzia, to pitch a follow-up piece in 2008 as he continued the fight to “reclaim his stolen manuscripts.”
Neither the litigation nor the follow-up article turned out as Bond had hoped, leading him to sue the Department of Justice, the Post and Roig-Franzia in 2010.
Representing himself, Bond claims that the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland failed to prosecute alleged crimes he brought to their attention, using Bond’s juvenile past as an excuse to discriminate against him. He says the Post’s 2009 follow-up piece was defamatory, violated the terms of their agreement and caused him emotional distress.
“Bond’s complaint represents the latest in a series of attempts to protect both his reputation and a manuscript that he authored in the early 1990s,” Chief U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth wrote. “Bond is no stranger to litigation, and the claims he advances here derive, in part, from suits he has filed and lost in other federal and state courts.”
Those previous lawsuits include a 2001 copyright-infringement complaint against his ex-wife’s ex-husband, who allegedly stole a copy of his manuscript. He also sued various parties associated with his ex’s child-custody case.
In discrimination of Bond’s acts as a juvenile, DOJ officials disregarded his claims that “two federal judges who reviewed his case acted unethically by communicating with plaintiff’s former counsel and conspiring to deprive Bond of his civil rights,” Bond claimed in his current complaint.
Though Roig-Franzia had allegedly agreed to write a story on Bond’s petitions to the U.S. Supreme Court, the reporter instead used “manufactured quotes” to write an unflattering story on Bond’s past.
Bond sought compensatory and punitive damages, return of all photographs used in the article, and return of his copyrighted materials.
Judge Lamberth threw out all of Bond’s claims on Tuesday and denied his motion to amend his complaint.
Immunity precludes Bond’s claims against the Justice Department and its officials, and his proposed amendments are “futile,” the 34-page decision states.
A one-year statute of limitations furthermore bars defamation claims against the Post and its reporter, Lamberth found. Bond’s claims about an oral contract also fail since he failed to present material terms of an enforceable agreement.
“A description of Bond’s legal battle necessarily entails the discussion of parts of his life story,” the judge wrote, rejecting claims that Roig-Franzia agreed to keep that history out of the article.
“If the facts alleged in Bond’s complaint are true, Roig-Franzia may indeed have violated journalistic standards (i.e. by publishing content he agreed would remain off the record),” he added (parentheses in original). “However, Bond cannot recover for the harm he alleges under contract.”
“Even if misrepresentations of material fact did occur, this court cannot reasonably infer that such conduct caused Bond any economic harm,” the decision also states.