On Friday, a Minnesota jury found that a blogger must pay $60,000 in damages because of statements he published in his blog about a public figure who was subsequently fired from his job. Internet publishers and free speech advocates should pay close attention to this case if it is appealed because the blogger was found liable even though the jury did not find that the blogger's statements were false.
This decision is the latest example of the law's apparent struggle to apply basic constitutional protections to internet publishers. If the Minnesota ruling holds up, it will mean that bloggers will have to worry they will be forced to pay for true statements that they publish that cause a person damages.
In June 2009, Jerry Moore was fired from the University of Minnesota after blogger John Hoff a/k/a Johnny Northside wrote a blog post criticizing the college for hiring Moore. In the post, Hoff criticized Moore's previous work as Executive Director of a community organization and linked Moore to a real estate scandal. In the post, Hoff stated, "Repeated and specific evidence in Hennepin County District Court shows Jerry Moore was involved with a high-profile fraudulent mortgage at 1564 Hillside Ave N."
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