Law Practice Management

Lawyer Can Sue Critic Over Craigslist War of Words, Says Appeal Court

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Reversing a lower court ruling that a screenwriter’s critical comments on Craigslist about a California lawyer were protected by the First Amendment, a state appeals court last week reinstated attorney Richard Gibson’s suit.

The comments allegedly posted by screenwriter Justin Swingle in conjunction with advertisements for Gibson’s law practice on Craigslist, held the Court of Appeal, “were not part of political speech nor speech on a matter of public interest,” reports the Los Angeles Daily News.

Hence, Swingle’s comments didn’t qualify for protection under the state’s law on so-called SLAPP suits, otherwise known as Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, reports the Metropolitan News-Enterprise.

Gibson contends that Swingle’s comments accused him of breaking the law, violating attorney ethics rules, being mentally ill and bigotry, among other criticisms.

Although the comments were posted anonymously, Gibson got a subpoena requiring Craigslist to identify the author.

Related coverage: “More and More Lawsuits Over Rants on the Web that Blast Businesses”

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