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29 September 2010

Blog for Democracy Threatened With Lawsuit By State House Candidate

Georgia Politics Unfiltered was launched five years ago and in those five years, this site has been no stranger to controversy. Still, this site has never been threatened with legal action, and that is an encouraging thought.

Contrast that with another Georgia political blog, Blog for Democracy (BfD). History was made Wednesday as BfD became the first Peach State-based website to be accused of libel.

Jason Shepherd, the Republican candidate challenging state Rep. Terry Johnson (D-Marietta) in the Nov. 2 election, came out swinging Tuesday in response to what he believes is a smear campaign by Democrats

On Tuesday, Shepherd took aim at a website called "Blog for Democracy," which describes itself as a group blog that launched in 2004 to cover "progressive" politics in Georgia. In a Monday comment on that blog by Melanie Goux, who serves on the board of The Fulton County Arts Council, Goux remarks on how long it took Shepherd to change his name and also comments on Shepherd's wife, Manuela, a native of Germany.

Writes Goux: "This means for almost 20 years, Jason went about daily life under an assumed (anglo sounding) surname, until Mr. Goldfarb was ready to marry his mail order bride. Given his history, someone should probably check on Mrs. Shepherd."

In a letter sent Tuesday to Goux, Shepherd's Marietta attorney Steven Ellis called the blog libelous for "imputing that Mr. Shepherd is currently committing physical violence against his wife."

. . .your statement concerning Mrs. Shepherd being a 'mail order bride' constitutes both the tort of invasion of privacy by publicity which places one in a false light in the public eye and Libel Per Se. Mrs. Shepherd is not, nor ever was, a mail order bride as you claim," Ellis writes.

Gillooly, Jon (2010-9-29). Shepherd's lawyer calls blog attacks libelous. Marietta Daily Journal. Retrieved on 2010-9-29.

Looks like a few bloggers might need to get lawyered up.