I write a blog. For me, a blog is commentary, not a news source. I cannot imagine trying to cover news from a blog. But, Roger Shuler has been doing just that with his blog, Legal Schnauzer. And, now he has been arrested for defamation.
Mr. Shuler writes a blog from Brimingham, Alabama. He has accused various state officials of corruption. The son of a former governor filed suit against Legal Schanuzer accusing the blogger of defamation. Unwisely, Mr. Shuler chose to represent himself. Mr. Shuler had accused Robert Riley, Jr. of impregnating a lobbyist named Liberty Duke. Both persons denied the accusation. But, Mr. Shuler persisted. In July, Mr. Riley and Ms. Duke sought an injunction against Mr. Shuler. Instead of responding, Mr. Shuler argued that the court lacked jurisdiction over him. …. Yes, that would be a weak defense. The court issued a broad preliminary order prohibiting Mr. Shuler form making "defamatory statements" about Mr. Riley and Ms. Duke.
Mr. Shuler failed to appear at a subsequent hearing. The judge found him in contempt and issued a warrant for his arrest. He was arrested in October, 2013. An arrest for civil contempt is exceedingly rare. I have to think that a judge went crazy, or a certain blogger did not have a lawyer, or both.
At some hearing, Mr. Shuler represented himself. The judge said that hearing would serve as the trial on the merits. The judge issued a ruling that Mr. Shuler must not publish anything more about Mr. Riley and Ms. Duke involving an affair, an abortion, or payoffs and that Mr. Shuler must remove the previous posts or remain in jail. See San Antonio Express News report.
Without a lawyer, I very much doubt anything was shown or proven at the supposed trial on the merits. But, I have to say, Mr. Shuler in not hiring a lawyer, what did he expect? One lone blogger cannot hope to emulate a newspaper. I cannot imagine how Mr. Shuler thinks he can compete with an actual news outlet. And, if you cannot back up your allegations in your post, then you really should not publish them. Some folks see this as a free speech case. It seems to me to be more about failing to appreciate the need for legal representation……