Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Leaf-Chronicle!

Good Day Readers:
Our journey began yesterday when we received the following e-mail from The Public Eye a Canadian attorney who anonymously hosts Truth To Power (


Here's a link (
NEWS01/903060355) to The Leaf-Chonicle about a SLAPP suit (Strategic Lawsuit against Public Participation) in the United States, as well as, an interesting article about the American judicial system ( which may interest your readers.

We decided to start by researching The Leaf Chronicle. Here's what we found:

The Leaf-Chronicle is a newspaper in the state of Tennessee, founded, officially, in 1890.
First appearing as a weekly newspaper under various names as early as 1808 and eventually as the Clarksville Chronicle, the current name is the result of a subsequent merger, in 1890, with the Tobacco Leaf, named for the area's predominant agricultural crop. (See Goodspeed's History of Tennessee, page 817). The Leaf-Chronicle is published daily in Clarksville, Tennessee, being printed at a modern printing plant that is also used to print the weekly and biweekly newspapers controlled by the Gannett Corporation in northern Middle Tennessee. The Leaf-Chronicle achievement that has perhaps received the greatest acclaim in recent years is its continuing to publish every day following downtown Clarksville, and its printing plant, receiving a direct hit from a powerful tornado in January 1999.

Now for their article:

Motion To Dismiss Libel Suit Argued In Court
By ERIC SNYDER • The Leaf-Chronicle • March 6, 2009

A motion to dismiss the libel lawsuit filed against several city residents for a political ad they ran in The Leaf-Chronicle was argued in the Sumner County Courthouse Thursday.

Ward 9 City Councilman Richard Swift and Downtown District Partnership member Wayne Wilkinson filed suit against members of the Clarksville Property Rights Coalition after the citizens group ran an ad in The Leaf-Chronicle on May 3, 2008.

The ad urged the public to lobby their representatives to vote against the Clarksville Center Redevelopment Plan, whose references to eminent domain proved controversial.

"This redevelopment plan is about private development. Our city government is controlled by developers," the ad said. "Mayor Johnny Piper, Councilman Swift and DDP member Wayne P. (Wilkinson) are all developers."

According to Bert Gall, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, Judge C.L. Rogers could rule on the motion as early as today. A local judge, Ross Hicks, recused himself from the case last year.

As he has since the suit was filed last year, Gall called Wilkinson's and Swift's case a retaliatory "slap suit" designed to stifle speech.

"It's not about defamation," Gall said. "This lawsuit is about punishing people who disagree with them."

Mark Olson, the attorney representing Swift and Wilkinson, Thursday accused the CPRC of making "personal attacks."

"Nothing in the ad ... addresses the policy — pros or cons — of the redevelopment plan," Olson said. "Instead, it personally attacks persons with whom they have differing opinions by claiming that money is the driving influence."

Olson did not mince words in his written response to the motion to dismiss, in which he said the suit "involves the intentional, malicious smear campaign undertaken by an inept group of malcontents known as the Clarksville Property Rights Coalition."

Gall filed the motion to dismiss in June. He said it was telling that it's taken this long to get a hearing.

"The fact that it's been lying dormant so long illustrates that this suit is not about defamation," Gall said, claiming that Olson couldn't agree to a hearing date. "When a plaintiff files a lawsuit, you expect them to prosecute that lawsuit."

Olson adamantly disagreed that he or his clients were deliberately delaying the suit.

"This fellow (Gall) is from D.C., and we've tried to set this thing a number of times," Olson said, adding that Gall was in town for a press conference last year but did not stop by his office, which was across the street.

Olson countered that Gall and the CPRC have "refused to provide" information belonging to the CPRC's spokesperson, John Summers, during the discovery process.

Swift's and Wilkinson's lawsuit claims the ad was "designed to, and (did) falsely attack the good reputations of Wayne Wilkinson and Richard Swift," and seeks $500,000 in penal and punitive damages.

Eric Snyder covers city government. He can be reached at 245-0262 or by e-mail at
Dear Mr. Snyder:
Here's a summary of our SLAPP suit sent recently to an interesting site maintained by law students from across Canada. The name and photograph of each Plaintiff has previously been posted on If you'd like the URL as background for a possible article in the Leaf Chronicle please let us know and we'll provide it.
Clare L. Pieuk
Blogmaster - CyberSmokeBlog
Winnipeg, Manitoba - Canada
For some time we have been following the Cusson v. Ottawa Citizen case now before the Supreme Court of Canada because of its potential remifications for an alleged defamation action involving the now defunct and the taxpayer financed Manitoba Metis Federation (approximately $25 million annual budget) which traces its genesis to mid-September of 2003.
It's a classic SLAPP suit (Strategic Lawsuit against Public Participation) which is currently at the Pre-Trial Conference negotiation stage. We cannot say more about these proceedings because of a publication ban. However, what we have is a classic textbook case of the law being misused in an attempt to bully, intimidate, threaten and harass unrepresented Defendants.
Not bound by Law Society of Manitoba regulations, we are able to reveal most of the correspondence from MMF lawyer Murray Norman Trachtenberg - you can read it by browsing our Blog.
For a listing of the Plaintiffs' voluminous filings visit Justice Manitoba's website to enter CI 05-01-41955 on the File Registry Search page.
This litigation raises many troubling questions foremost of which is the propriety of a publicly funded corporation using taxpayer dollars to finance a nuisance lawsuit. It has all the elements, save for a first degree murder, including a pro bono Manitoba attorney (Lionel R. Chartrand) who agreed to serve as our General Legal Counsel when we became aware the Federation had placed us on "a defamation watch" by assigning a solicitor to monitor our site in search of potentially litigious material.
If you can believe this, Mr. Chartrand was the one who authored the allegedly defamatory material, sanctioned its publication on the internet and even better is now a Crown Prosecutor in Wetaskiwin, Alberta. But it only gets better! He has not been named as a Co-Defendant?
Should any of your readers have questions or wish to post a comment our particulars are:
Clare L. Pieuk
Thank You!


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