A federal judge in Virginia dismissed one of Rep. Devin Nunes' (R-CA) defamation suits against The Washington Post, the Federal Aviation Agency released long-awaited drone guidelines, a British judge rejected the U.S. government's request to extradite Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, and more.
Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA) has filed yet another defamation suit against a media company. On November 11th, Nunes filed a libel suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia against The Washington Post and reporter Ellen Nakashima. According to the complaint, The Post published an article that “falsely accused” Nunes of “dishonesty, deception, lying to the American public, spreading disinformation, lack of integrity, and ethical improprieties.”
The judge is asking the family to submit a new complaint based only on whether the family's dairy farm knowingly hired undocumented workers. The new complaint will also have to contain a new argument showing actual malice.
In his 48-page opinion, District Judge C.J. Williams ruled that none of the 11 allegedly defamatory statements were grounds for defamation. Some, such as Lizza’s claims that Nunes and his family were keeping a “secret,” Williams dismissed because they were too ambiguous to be actionable.
Ben Garrison, a cartoonist known for lionizing President Donald Trump in his drawings, is suing the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for defamation after the organization called one of his cartoons anti-Semitic.
Public officials using libel suits as a weapon against the press is nothing new. In the time of Times v. Sullivan, southern officials had brought nearly $300 million in libel actions against the press. For reference, Nunes alone has brought just over $900 million in defamation claims in a twelve-month period.
"[T]he Court has significant concerns about forum shopping," U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia Judge Robert E. Paynes wrote. "As the Court has explained to Plaintiff's counsel on numerous occasions, the Court cannot stand as a willing repository for cases which have no real nexus to this district.”
After analyzing the sixteen allegedly defamatory statements, U.S. District Court Judge C.J. Williams found that the plaintiffs had neither identified what about them was false nor provided any facts that would have shown them to be false.