A ruling by a federal judge in Oregon should send chills down your spine if you’re a blogger.
Crystal L. Cox, a blogger from Eureka, Mont., was sued for defamation by attorney Kevin Padrick when she posted online that he was a thug and a thief during the handling of bankruptcy proceedings by him and Obsidian Finance Group LLC.
Padrick, of Bend, Ore., was a trustee in a bankruptcy case involving Summit Accommodators, a company that helped property owners conduct real estate transactions in a way to limit taxes. Three executives face federal fraud and money laundering indictments.
Cox said she considered herself a journalist, producing more than 400 blogs over the past five years, with a proprietary technique to get her postings on the top of search engines where they get the most notice.
But last Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Marco Hernandez found that as a blogger, Cox was not a journalist and cannot claim the protections afforded to mainstream reporters and news outlets.
Media experts said that the ruling would have little effect on the definition of journalism, but it does cast a shadow on those who work in nontraditional media since it highlights the lack of case law that could protect them and the fact that current state shield laws for journalists are not covering recent developments in online media.
[Source: Jeff Barnard, “Federal judge: Montana blogger is not journalist,” Associated Press, Dec. 7, 2011.]
Federal district court judge, 54-year-old Marco A. Hernandez, was first nominated to the federal bench by George W. Bush, and successfully nominated by Barack Obama. The Senate unanimously confirmed him in February 2011. Here is his contact info.:
1427 United States Courthouse
1000 Southwest Third Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97204-2944