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Default defamation

January 23, 2023

Sometimes you really want to root for someone until you realize what they're saying is a little weird. Not everyone recognizes right and wrong.

Milt Policzer

By Milt Policzer

Courthouse News columnist; racehorse owner and breeder; one of those guys who always got picked last.

Every now and then I run across a statement that I want to agree with made by someone I should agree with — but it’s just weirdly and completely wrong.

I have an example from a suit filed recently in Kent County, Michigan, on behalf of Blake Mazurek, Robin Smith and Timothy Smith, a trio of Biden presidential electors who got elected. They sued a group of the Republican electors who didn’t get elected but tried to certify themselves as the winners even though they lost.

This is what the suit says: “Almost everyone in our society recognizes that lying, cheating, and stealing is wrong, and to do so in connection with a presidential election is traitorous, anti-democratic, and utterly outrageous.”

Well, clearly someone doesn’t recognize that or there wouldn’t be a lawsuit (or fake electors).

You’re probably wondering why these three real electors bothered to sue the fakes. After all, they did get to cast the Biden votes.

Apparently, winning the election and casting their votes wasn’t enough. The lawsuit asks for a declaratory judgment that the plaintiffs were “legitimate Electors of the State of Michigan” and “that defendants’ conduct violated Michigan law.”

I have no idea why they need a judge to do this since the plaintiffs were legitimate Electors and got to vote. Maybe they forgot.

“Count II” in the complaint is for false light invasion of privacy because the plaintiffs supposedly suffered harm to reputation, humiliation and stress caused by the fake elector certificates. I guess the concept is that if you say something about yourself — i.e. that you’re an elector — you’re defaming someone who really is an elector because you’re saying the real electors are not the real electors.

Defamation by inference.

It’s like if you say you won an election when you didn’t, you’re defaming the person who did win.

This could be the beginning of a whole lot of lawsuits.

“Count III” in the suit is for conversion because the plaintiffs “had an intangible personal property interest in their lawful office as true Electors” — which, as far as I can tell, wasn’t converted.

Maybe they meant attempted conversion?

We’re going to see some fun appellate rulings.

Questionable integrity. Here’s an odd question for you: how do you maintain integrity by ignoring integrity?

I ask this because that’s what the Massachusetts Supreme Court did recently in a ruling that kind of made sense until whoever wrote it (a clerk, perhaps?) claimed the result maintained integrity.

It doesn’t seem to.

The ruling was that a former state speaker of the House couldn’t be rejected as a registered lobbyist because he was convicted of federal violations, not Massachusetts violations. Massachusetts law calls for automatic rejection of lobbyist applications for state felonies but doesn’t mention federal felonies.

As long as you haven’t committed a state crime, you can lobby a state legislator. Federal felons are welcome.

OK, rules are rules. But maybe the court should have stopped there without saying this: “Clarification of the scope of the Secretary’s discretion under the disqualification provision, which the Legislature intended to serve as a gatekeeping function for lobbyists, will aid the Secretary in preserving the integrity of the lobbying industry.”

Will it?

The Massachusetts Legislature may be surprised it intended this.

Favorite lawsuit sentence of the week. This is from a complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court:

“TBSL (a supposed charitable group) is what results when Corporate Social Responsibility or ‘CSR” mixed with incompetence becomes divorced from fiscal reality: a fraud wrapped in gloss, glitter, and lies that sucks investors’ money into a black abyss.”

Well, at least the glitter brightened up the abyss.

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