Tennessee Legal Genius Stacey Campfield Doing His Best To Avoid Paying Heaps Of Money To Guy He Libeled
Blogging sure is hard sometimes. Between waking up at 5:30 a.m. to dredge Twitter for things to be outraged about and avoidingan EPIC SMACKDOWN for stating a fact about a whiny Breitbart charity hire with a martyrdom complex, mistakes are just an inevitable part of web scribbling. However if one rule concerning writing shit on the internet for free reigns supreme over them all it is this: DO NOT GET SUED FOR WRITING ABSOLUTE BULLSHIT ABOUT SOMEONE. Sadly for Tennessee’s greatest elected weirdo (non-snake handling category) it appears as if his hobby of wasting tax-payer subsidized bandwidth on his hilarious Snookie-related foreign policy analysis might have bit him in the ass.
Campfield’s hometown paper reports that your Wonkette Legislative Shit Muffin MVP shoo-in is being sued by Democrat Roger Byrge to the tune of three-quarters of million dollars for blogging some half assed opposition research item about Byrge just before the 2008 election. At the time Byrge was in an extremely close race against Campfield ally Chad Faulkner for a seat in the Tennessee House. Byrge eventually lost that race by fewer than 400 votes, and apparently he believes that this incendiary accusation from Mr. Starve The Stupid Kids had something to do with it:
“[A] mail piece has gone out exposing Byrge's multiple drug arrests....I hear the mug shots are gold."
Campfield also stated that Byrge had been arrested for drug and dealing, a profession that people in Tennessee don’t exactly take kindly to.
The problem with piece of election news is that it was sort of embarrassingly wrong on all levels. Byrge’s son was actually the golden mug-shot boy at the heart of these arrests which means that Campfield managed to do the impossible and commit libel against a public figure.
Proving the tort of libel is notoriously difficult as our country takes that whole “First Amendment” thing pretty seriously. Furthermore, the recent case law has rendered the very definition of libel as a “mess” (no seriously that is literally what it says in the casebook on the subject). On the other hand, Stacey’s magnificent dickitude might very well transcend the law if his responses to this deposition are any indication of how he plans to act as a defendant:
Campfield maintained in the deposition that he was just repeating information he had received from House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada of Franklin. Casada and the state Republican Party were also sued by Byrge but settled the case to undisclosed terms.
“I did not say those things,” Campfield said in the deposition. “Glen Casada said those things.”
Pressed by Byrge’s attorney, David Dunaway, about whether he was sorry he had published the comments on his blog, Campfield said: “I’m sorry Glen Casada was mistaken in his report, yes…. If you want to say Glen was reckless, I guess you could say that.”
So Campfield’s defense is that this Glen Casada person is the real villain here as he should have known that telling anything to loose-lips Campfield was a bad fucking idea (even with a preemptive disclaimer regarding the item’s veracity). Somehow that line of logic doesn’t seem to contradict the idea that Campfield acted without actual malice. Also Glen needs to find better friends.
But Campfield wasn’t done making his lawyer's life a living hell. Nope, Campfield felt it necessary to punish his defense attorney with the mastery of a lesbian bondage expert:
Campfield was asked in the deposition whether he has “a right to disparage or demean, or to call someone a criminal when that statement’s not true.”
Campfield answered: “I believe legally, probably, there is the right to do that because I’ve had it happen to me.”
Well, that's ... wrong. Good law knowledge, Stacy Campfield! Very "expert," we are sure!
He was later challenged on whether there are limits to what he could publish.
“You can do anything,” Campfield responded. “That’s freedom of speech. The newspaper reports on things that I do all the time.”
And with that the people of Tennessee can rest easily knowing that one of the people elected to make the state's law conceptualizes the First Amendment with the same level of precision and depth as your average teenager on a Reddit Creepshots forum.
But despite essentially proving his opponent's cases in this glorious deposition of derp, Campfield does manage to show that there is no fucking way he is paying Byrge $750,000. How? Well mostly because Stacey Campfield’s blog, while popular for attracting lawsuits and material for your Wonkette on slow news days, has failed to bring in the revenue that the lawmaker originally envisioned:
Campfield, in a deposition attached to a court filing last week, said he would be unlikely to pay any damages, noting that he earns about $30,000 a year.
“Like I’ve got any money to give it even if you win,” Campfield said in the deposition taken in April 2011.
“Go right ahead,” he said. “I mean, I can show you my tax returns. If you think you’re going to get money out of me, it’s laughable.”
Campfield is judgment proof because he’s broke as shit. Legislators who blog: THEY’RE JUST LIKE US!