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Thread: Father of Slain Marine Forces to Pay Protesters' Legal Fees

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    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Default Father of Slain Marine Forces to Pay Protesters' Legal Fees

    Lawyers for the father of a Marine who died in Iraq and whose funeral was picketed by anti-gay protesters say a court has ordered him to pay the protesters' appeal costs.

    On Friday, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered that Albert Snyder of York, Pa., pay costs associated with Fred Phelps' appeal. Phelps is the leader of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., which held a protest at the funeral of Snyder's son, Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, in Westminster in 2006......
    (Story from Baltimore Sun)


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    Last edited by davidbfpo; 03-30-2010 at 03:06 PM. Reason: Add quote marks

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    Council Member J Wolfsberger's Avatar
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    John Wolfsberger, Jr.

    An unruffled person with some useful skills.

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    Justice is not only blind. It occasionally suffers from bouts of temporary insanity.

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    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    I'm so mad I can't see straight. I usually try not to let political/legal stuff get to me but this is beneath contempt. The Phelps clan is the absolute definition of scum. There is no excuse for this.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Synder family cause

    Having watched a BBC TV documentary on the protesting Phelps family and their viewpoint on the fallen I have sympathy for the Synder family, who clearly have decided to take action against the Phelps. I note the Synder family have a website and the facility to make donations for their cause: http://www.matthewsnyder.org/Links.html

    I've read the website briefly and found a linked Facebook explanation of the legal dispute:
    ..at Matt's funeral Westboro (Phelps) protested against Matt and harrassed Matt's family. Al, Matt's father, sued them and he won.Then, Westboro countersued and they overturned the case, citing freedom of speech Now the Supreme Court has decided to take the case.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 03-30-2010 at 02:54 PM. Reason: Amended
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    Thumbs down

    If I understood this case, than the family who sued the clan who insulted their fallen son during his burial had to pay all the court's costs. I feel for them.

    Sounds very cruel indeed - not like liberty of speech, but liberty to insult.


    Firn
    Last edited by Firn; 03-30-2010 at 03:11 PM.

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    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    Phelps is a leach. He engages in deliberately provocative speach and actions in order to elicit a response which he and his brood can then use as a pretext for legal action. Moronic judges who fail to understand the difference between protecting unpopular speach and facilitating the Phelps scam continue to rule in his favor at least often enough to allow him to keep going. I realize that our system is not perfect but this just defies reason.

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    Default Some background items

    The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is generally considered to be "the most ideologically conservative court in the federal appellate system". The Wikis for the three-judge panel:

    Robert Bruce King - Clinton appt. 1998.

    Dennis Shedd - Bush II appt. 2001.

    Allyson Kay Duncan - Bush II appt. 2003.

    The Supreme Court granted certiorari (it will hear the case on meirits briefs), specifying the following three questions (taken verbatim from Snyder's Petition for Certiorari):

    09-751 SNYDER V. PHELPS
    DECISION BELOW:580 F.3d 206
    LOWER COURT CASE NUMBER: 08-1026

    QUESTIONS PRESENTED:

    The Fourth Circuit reversed a jury determination in favor of Albert Snyder ("Snyder") for the intentional harm perpetrated against him by Fred W. Phelps, Sr., Westboro Baptist Church, Incorporated, Rebekah A. Phelps-Davis and Shirley L. Phelps-Roper (collectively, "Phelps"). Snyder's claim arose out of Phelps' intentional acts at Snyder's son's funeral. Specifically the claims were: (1) intentional infliction of emotional distress, (2) invasion of privacy and (3) civil conspiracy. These claims were dismissed by the Fourth Circuit notwithstanding that (a) Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell does not apply to private versus private individuals; (b) Snyder was a "captive" audience; (c) Phelps specifically targeted Snyder and his family; (d) Snyder proved that he was intentionally harmed by clear and convincing evidence; [fn 1] and (e) Phelps disrupted Snyder's mourning process. The Fourth Circuit's decision gives no credence to Snyder's personal stake in honoring and mourning his son and ignores Snyder's right to bury his son with dignity and respect.

    Three questions are presented:

    1. Does Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell apply to a private person versus another private person concerning a private matter?

    2. Does the First Amendment's freedom of speech tenet trump the First Amendment's freedom of religion and peaceful assembly?

    3. Does an individual attending a family member's funeral constitute a captive audience who is entitled to state protection from unwanted communication?

    ---------
    fn 1 Because Snyder sought punitive damages, he was required to prove his case by clear and convincing evidence. Furthermore, Snyder was required to prove actual malice. Snyder carried his burden on both issues.

    CERT. GRANTED 3/8/2010
    Note that this case has turned into a freedom of religion and assembly (Snyder) vs freedom of speech case (Phelps) case (issue 2). Application of Hustler v Falwell to this situation seems questionable to this armchair observer.

    I don't do tea leaf readings on what SCOTUS will do with a particular case; but SCOTUS statistically is more likely to grant cert in order to reverse than to affirm an appellate court.

    Regards

    Mike
    Last edited by jmm99; 03-30-2010 at 05:27 PM.

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    I recognize that proper reading of the law will sometimes result in lousy outcomes, but I disagree with the judgment (it's a quick read). These were private individuals who were slandered on phelps's website (not all of the nastiness was fact-based, but some of it was clearly issue of fact).

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    Default Yup,

    the purpose of Hill and its progeny was to make it more difficult for a public, political figure to sue for defamation and thereby silence political dissent vs that public figure. The Snyder-Phelps 4th CA decision turns that on its head since Snyder is indeed a private figure and Phelps is a public figure.

    When lawyers and judges lose sight of the purpose underlying a rule, the rule will be applied blindly and even insanely. One of my law school profs called that "trained indifference" - adherence to the presumed letter of a doctrine without consideration of the doctrine's underlying rationale and its application to the particular circumstances of the case at hand.

    Regards

    Mike
    Last edited by jmm99; 03-30-2010 at 05:40 PM.

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    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    Note that this case has turned into a freedom of religion and assembly (Snyder) vs freedom of speech case (Phelps) case (issue 2). Application of Hustler v Falwell to this situation seems questionable to this armchair observer.

    The purpose of Hill and its progeny was to make it more difficult for a public, political figure to sue for defamation and thereby silence political dissent vs that public figure. The Snyder-Phelps 4th CA decision turns that on its head since Snyder is indeed a private figure and Phelps is a public figure.

    When lawyers and judges lose sight of the purpose underlying a rule, the rule will be applied blindly and even insanely. One of my law school profs called that "trained indifference" - adherence to the presumed letter of a doctrine without consideration of the doctrine's underlying rationale and its application to the particular circumstances of the case at hand.

    Regards

    Mike
    Seems that you wrapped it up pretty well. I see the logic of this juridical process and can only shake my head in disbelief.

    That little that I gathered about this public figure Phelps stopped my small research short and left me wondering how this status can be attained by such a person. Words fail me as bigot and hypocrite sound far too weak.


    Regards

    Firn

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    Default Phelps is a public figure .....

    because he and his cohorts have made themselves public figures by placing themselves in the media's eyes via their outrageous statements. So long as they attack other public figures (e.g., the Pope), they can get away with it on First Amendment grounds (NYT-Sullivan 1964 and Time-Hill 1967; and, yes, Hustler-Falwell from later on) - as those cases are currently applied.

    The real impact of the 4th CA decision is that loud, bully boys can inject themselves into the public spotlight and inflict damage on little people who do not desire that spotlight - and that those bully boys will not be punished for what they do. Viewed in that light, the 4th CA decision is pure bullsh$t.

    Regards

    Mike

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    Council Member Wargames Mark's Avatar
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    There are laws that make harassment, certain forms/presentations of obscenity, slander, libel, threats, and loud music illegal. I can't see why doing this garbage at a funeral cannot be illegal.

    BTW, when someone is as wrapped-around-the-axle as Phelps is over gays, you gotta wonder...
    Last edited by Wargames Mark; 03-30-2010 at 09:22 PM.
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    Cases like this make me long for the days when a man could address a public insult by challenging the slanderer to a duel. The lack of consequence results in a lower level of discourse. Kind of like how we no longer let kids rough house on the playground. As a result, they are more prone to run their mouths and say stuff that, to some extent in my day, and to a greater extent in my father's day, would have merited and resulted in an ass-whooping.

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    Council Member Pete's Avatar
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    Default Strange Court Rulings

    Sometimes when courts render unusual rulings or verdicts it's a good idea to remember what one of Charles Dickens' characters said in the novel Oliver Twist--"The law is an a**." As an example, the following is from today's Irish Times, Dublin:

    A High Court judge has ruled that a stone quarry that has been operated near the shores of Lough Corrib in Co Galway since the 17th century requires planning permission. Mr Justice Peter Charleton upheld Galway City Council’s decision that quarry owner Michael O’Reilly must apply for planning permission and submit an environmental impact assessment (EIA) if works are to be allowed to continue there.
    Today's Daily Telegraph in London has a story on a proposed change to public decency law that is peculiar--click here to read it.

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