Vegas Lawyers Settle Suit Over Internet Libel


     LAS VEGAS (CN) – Two Las Vegas attorneys settled their defamation suit against an anonymous Internet poster who claimed one used “sexual relations” to advance her career.
     Mary Brown, a defense attorney and former deputy district attorney, and her husband Phil Brown settled a 2012 lawsuit they filed over comments made on the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s website.
     The settlement was announced Monday, just days after the Nevada Supreme Court affirmed the Clark County District Court’s earlier ruling that the anonymous comments were not protected free speech.
     In its ruling issued on Friday, the Silver State’s high court found the Browns are not public figures, which gives them greater protection against defamatory statements.
     “As deputy district attorneys, the Browns were government employees, not elected officials,” Justice Nancy M. Saitta wrote. “We conclude that the Browns are not public figures.”
     Doe argued the Browns “placed themselves in the public by addressing the media multiple times throughout their careers,” according to the opinion.
     “There is no indication in the record to evince that the Browns voluntarily sought out the media or purposely thrust themselves into a public controversy,” Saitta wrote.
     “Doe’s comments were not made in direct connection with any issue under consideration by any governmental body, or in connection with any other official legal proceeding.”
     In her lawsuit, Mary Brown said the defamatory poster signed his comments, “Lawyer.”
     She claimed that Doe/Lawyer appended to the newspaper’s Dec. 14, 2011, story headlined “Family Judge’s Courting Stirs Rift” a defamatory comment “stating that Mary Brown, a chief deputy district attorney with the Clark County District Attorney’s Office, had sexual relations in order to get promoted at the Clark County District Attorney’s Office. That statement was false,” according to the Browns’ complaint.
     Two days later, Brown said, “Lawyer” repeated the defamatory statement in a posting attached to the story “Feud Puts Court Cases on Hold.”
     She said he did it again on a Jan. 4 story “Second Romance Cover-Up Alleged,” and again on a Jan. 23 a story “Family Court Judge Removed from Child Welfare Case.”
     The stories centered on an alleged relationship between a Family Court judge and a female prosecutor.
     Doe/Lawyer’s statements “affect the plaintiff’s business reputation by communicating to the public that Mary Brown attained her position as chief deputy district attorney with the Clark County District Attorney’s Office by means of sexual acts,” the complaint stated.
     Doe’s attorney, Peter Chasey, could not disclose settlement terms but said the settlement was reached before the Supreme Court ruling was made, rendering the ruling moot.
     The Browns were not available for comment and their attorney, Gregory Denue, could not be reached for comment.

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