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SOUNDS FROM THE CHOIR: “I’m Billing Time”

PRO-LOG

OuteasY is a big flag waver, when the calm winds of our law is at the tail, and take immense pleasure in profiling professionals we admire. Before we hoist their main, I will attempt to answer this burning question; “Can a female attorney be called ‘Esquire’?”
Actually, in retrospect, given today’s horrific socio-weather, the term has become a bit antiquated, as all gender and likewise race, has gone neutral. If, however, you insist, I suppose it would be just as correct, and perhaps grammatically safer, to address the lawyer in correspondence as Mr., Mrs. or Ms. as you see or otherwise sense, or omit if uncomfortable, and follow the name with a bland descriptor, such as; “Attorney at Law.” Your decision, but before proceeding in haste, note, The Constitution of the United States, in Article, I Section 9, Clause 8 states; “No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States…” Inasmuch, the term should never used in verbal greetings or as an introductory title as part of one’s name, and rarely, except in private perhaps, does someone describe themselves using the term “Esquire.” So, since titles are not permitted in the United States by way of law, the term “Esquire” would be indicative of occupation rather than social status, and therefore applies equally to anyone in the occupation regardless of sometimes perceived gender. Anyhow, culturally at present, it is strongly advised to endeavor to use terms that are mutually exclusive whenever confronted with the situation, thusly avoiding misunderstandings and/or uncomfortable settings, which is obviously what Thomas Jefferson was politely thinking when he stood and sayeth for all, please wit:

“Under the law of nature, all men are born free, every one comes into the world with a right to his own person, which includes the liberty of moving and using it at his own will. This is what is called personal liberty, and is given him by the Author of nature, because necessary for his own sustenance.” —Thomas Jefferson

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“I worry about my child and the Internet all the time, even though she’s too young to have logged on yet. Here’s what I worry about. I worry that 10 or 15 years from now, she will come to me and say Daddy, where were you when they took freedom of the press away from the Internet?

– Mike Godwin, Electronic Frontier Foundation

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“RANDAZZELED’ BY ‘SIR BRAVEHEART”

13 April, 2007

I had long yawned away Prinz Frederic’s defamation suit until Fox News, needing a little filler I guess, entertained viewers with an audience before his majesty and able barrister, Chris Fields. (See Here) It was really kinda sad actually, I mean an old man of such fancy, but he does bring a smile. It’s Chris I really don’t get, way too early in his career to get mixed up in such nonsense, or maybe that is the problem. Whatever floats your boat, his to scuttle, I suppose. Anyhow, Gretta van Susteren, who I know has the hots for Frederic (only one who will interview him) was clever:

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, … Are you still going to go forward with it (the suit) now that Larry is the father?

ANHALT: Well, you see, if I — I don’t know if I could.

CHRIS FIELDS, PRINCE ANHALT’S ATTY: Let me interrupt, Greta.

ANHALT: No, no, no, wait a minute. Wait a minute; he calls me a fraud because I told him I had an affair with Nicole? It doesn’t matter if Larry Birkhead is the father or not, I could have been the father, I never said I am the father. I said I could be father. But he said because I said I had an affair with Nicole that’s not true and he calls me a fraud. That’s how what he did. You know, and that is all.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Chris, you want to get in on this. Chris, who is your lawyer (nodding toward von Alsheimers). Chris, you want to get in on this.

FIELDS: Well, I just wanted to caution Frederic on saying too much out of the league sphere. We’re proceeding with the process. It remains to be seen how far we’ll take it, but we are very serious about the suit.

Alrighty then. Not sure what a “league sphere” is, probably Bavarian, or a Bel Air thing. I’d look it up, but would rather ask Chris, or better, Zsa Zsa. Anyway, Anemi’s all dithered about this vexation, and I bumped into the below in the in-box today about the doings of our Professor bud Marc Randazza, Esq. “SLAPPing” ’em around over there in the State of east Disney. Hey, what a tact this would be for us! Poor Anemi, he doesn’t see that we’ll never get that far, (one can dream, it would be a hoot) but, I’d SLAP the Prince squarely in the lineage first with some sort of suit comfortable for his station like buying and selling titles, Middle Ages Barratry, or maybe a dash of Simony. I’ll get Marc to weigh in on this, provided he’s not on Chris’s billing tier. Anyhow, knowing royalty, I’m sure the Prince will defer to settle by joust or epee, as Zsa drops a doily on a misty dawn or such, and good luck with this Marc (you’re Knighted “Sir Braveheart!”). We’ll be watching. (More on Marc Randazza somewhere on this page ~ sit a spell, scroll around)

(CLICK ALL BELOW TO ENLARGE)

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About The Following Author

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Donald E. Wolfe, Esq. is a senior partner in the Foundation Law Group, a law firm focused on business and real estate law. In addition to his involvement in Foundation Law Group, Mr. Wolfe is the managing partner and chief legal counsel for Legacy Point Properties, Inc., a real estate investment company.

DEFAMATION IN THE “NO SPIN ZONE”

“Look, this guy’s a fraud. We know he’s a fraud. But let’s – what I want to talk about is what he’s done. His credibility is finished.” Strong words from talk show host Bill O’Reilly when talking about Prince Frederic von Anhalt, husband of Zsa Zsa Gabor and his claim that he is the father of Anna Nicole Smith’s newborn baby girl Dannielynn. But, $10 million dollars strong? von Anhalt thinks so.

The Prince, along with others, has claimed that he is the biological father of Dannielynn. Last Wednesday, von Anhalt filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles claiming that O’Reilly defamed him by calling him a “fraud.” Based upon the papers filed, he is seeking at least $10 million dollars in damages. Since O’Reilly made the statements, von Anhalt has been quoted as stating that people give him dirty looks when he goes to the grocery store. “They say, ‘Look, here comes the fraud,’” he said. “I get lots of e-mails from people bad-mouthing me. It’s very embarrassing.” But, is it $10 million dollars embarrassing? – probably not.

Under California law, defamation constitutes an injury to reputation; the injury may occur by means of libel or slander. In general, a written communication that is false, that is not protected by any privilege, and that exposes a person to contempt or ridicule or certain other reputational injuries, constitutes libel. A false and unprivileged oral communication attributing to a person specific misdeeds or certain unfavorable characteristics or qualities, or uttering certain other derogatory statements regarding a person, constitutes slander. Von Anhalt’s case most likely involves claims based upon slander because the alleged defamatory statement was spoken as opposed to written.

A defendant in a defamation case is not defenseless (say that three times fast). The truth is an absolute defense to a defamation claim. It could be argued that O’Reilly was stating the truth should it come out that von Anhalt is not the biological father. In addition, statements of opinion do not provide a basis for a defamation suit, but statements of fact do. For example, “John is an idiot.” would be an opinion while “John is an idiot who stole $50 dollars.” is a statement of fact which would give rise to a defamation suit, assuming that it was not true. If this isn’t confusing enough, different standards apply to different people. The law has a higher standard for public officials and public figures. In order to prevail in a defamation suit against either, the plaintiff must generally prove that the statement was made with “actual malice” – that is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.”

Given that it is likely that von Anhalt is a “public figure” under the law and given that O’ Reilly has a strong argument, based upon the nature of his show, that he was only stating his opinion, if I was von Anhalt, I would not start counting that $10 million yet – but that’s just my opinion.

  1. Outeasy 03.27.07 / 5am

    The only “value” of this case is that of entertainment for the Plaintiff. Dispelling Anhalt’s claim of Nobility is easy enough in that Germany abolished its Monarchy in 1919, adoption law in Germany would otherwise prohibit, and the Anhalt family disavows his presumption. To the issue of parentage, where is the “malice door” when in 1982 Anhalt publically sued Pfizer with cause for impotence? Above notions of Camelot, unless der prince can change history or manipulate science, I’d say Defendant’s wallet is safe.

  2. jsthinkn 03.29.07 / 10pm

    I agree with Outeasy – the wallet is not in danger. This is just another attempt by the “prince” to claim his “15″ minutes.

  3. jsthinkn 03.29.07 / 10pm

    But the way, Outeasy has a cool site. Check it out.

  4. Outeasy 03.30.07 / 10am

    Whilst at lunch, our bests’ at the Palm Beach Polo Club just checked in to remind us of the $3.8 million Florida lottery winnings of der von anchovy. Who’s got the check? http://anemicroyalty.wordpress.com/zwischen-den-blattern/

ABOUT THE FOLLOWING AUTHOR: Marc John Randazza

Adjunct Professor of Law
Barry University School of Law
Attorney at Law
Weston, Garrou, DeWitt & Walters

The law firm of Weston, Garrou, DeWitt & Walters is one of the largest First Amendment law firms in the United States. Our firm has existed, in various forms, for 4 decades, and has defended Free Speech interests since the days of the Meese Commission. We have handled cases in virtually every U.S. jurisdiction, including 7 cases at the United States Supreme Court dealing with censorship of erotic speech. We maintain offices on both the East and West coasts, in California and Florida. Our clients range from large media outlets and producers, to small businesses and individuals. The partners regularly lecture on First Amendment and Internet Law issues at conferences throughout the world, and often publish articles on pertinent legal matters.

Education
BAUniversity of Massachusetts (Journalism)
MAUniversity of Florida (Master of Arts in Mass Communication – Media Law Focus)
JD Georgetown University Law Center

Classes Taught

Entertainment Law: LAW6126(Spring 2007)
Sports Law: LAW6118 (Coming Summer 2007)
Copyright Law: LAW6102 (Fall 2006, Fall 2007)
Trademark Law: LAW6392 (Fall 2006, Fall 2007)

12 April, 2007

See this and other onthemoney conversations by clicking Here.

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Randazza on Imus, Rutgers, related.

Libel – Be Careful what you Sue For (yes, I finally succumb and discuss Anna Nicole)

Fine, I give in, I have to add something about Anna Nicole.

Frederic Von Anhalt, Zsa Zsa Gabor’s husband, is suing Fox News and Bill O’Reilly for defamation. O’Reilly called him a “fraud” on his TV show. The transcript is here.

Here’s the rough thing about filing a libel suit — once you do it, if you go to trial, you may force the defendant to prove the truth of the matter at issue. At issue, O’Reilly calling him a “fraud.”

Von Anhalt claims, or doesn’t claim, that he might be the father of Anna Nicole’s baby. Actually, it is difficult to figure out what his position is on that. He also claims to be a “Prince.” That seems to be a pretty specious claim. I’m not going to do a lot of research on nobility, but you can google him or start here if you like. easy3.jpg It appears that the guy is not nobility at all, so it seems that “fraud” might not be an inaccurate way to describe him. This is, of course, to say nothing for the fact that he is certainly a public figure. See New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964).

Of course, my trump card (if I were defending this suit) would be to say: “Ladies and gentlement of the jury, this guy took marriage vows. He publicly admitted that he slept around on his wife. Does that not make it accurate to call him a fraud? What about his claim to a royal title?

Also, in a libel suit, you need to prove damages. See, e.g., Gobin v. Globe Publishing Co., 232 Kan. 1, 649 P.2d 1239, 1244 (1982); Swanson v. American Hardware Mutual Ins. Co., 359 N.W.2d 705, 707 (Minn. App. 1984) (rev. denied) (”To establish a claim in a defamation action [plaintiff] must prove that the [defendant] made false and defamatory statements about them which injured their reputation.”).

I am not so sure this guy had a stellar reputation to begin with. Google him. Evidence of plaintiff’s pre-existing bad reputation is admissible to mitigate damages. See, e.g., Davis v. Hamilton, 92 N.W. 512, 515 (Minn. 1902); Finklea v. Jacksonville Daily Progress, 742 S.W.2d 512, 517 (Tex. App. 1987). A plaintiff is “libel-proof” when his reputation has been irreparably stained by prior publications. At the point the challenged statements are published, then, plaintiff’s reputation is already so damaged that a plaintiff cannot recover more than nominal damages for subsequent defamatory statements. Marcone v. Penthouse Int’l Magazine for Men, 754 F.2d 1072, 1079 (3rd Cir. 1985). But see Schiavone Construction Co. v. Time, Inc., 646 F. Supp. 1511, 1516 (D.N.J. 1986) (a court will not dismiss a defamation action merely because the plaintiff already has a bad reputation), rev’d, 847 F.2d 1069, 1072-73 (3rd Cir. 1988). Finklea, 742 S.W.2d at 516 (”[E]ven the public outcast’s remaining good reputation is entitled to protection.”).

I have to give his attorney one small bit of credit. At least he was intelligent enough to plead actual malice in his complaint (necessary due to his client’s status as a public figure). Nevertheless, I still have zero respect for an attorney who would file such a garbage suit. I admit that there is often a public relations aspect to lawsuits, but a lawsuit as a public relations or self-promotion strategy is a disgusting affront to the legal system. I can’t see this suit as anything but that. (Here is the transcript of an interview with his attorney, “Prince” von Anhalt, and Greta Van Susteren).

If any of you ever file a suit this lame, I will retroactively flunk you! This is more lame than the Carol Burnett case (which I have commented on)

easy3.jpg WE ARE HONORED TO TO HAVE BEEN INCLUDED AS A LINK TO RESEARCH FOR PROFESSOR RANDAZZA’S FINE WORK. ~ OUTEASY.

13 April, 2007

The “Prinz”

As a follow up to my posting on “Prinz” von Anhalt.

I was forwarded this email from a source that will remain confidential.

From: EMAIL ADDRESS REDACTED
Sent: Monday, July 24, 2006 6:06 PM
Subject: Re: question from journalist

Dear Sir,

In our homepage http://www.anhalt-askanien.de you can find all the details about the real family members. There are a lot of ‘Princes von Anhalt’ in America, none of them is related to the family.

Best regards
Corinna Prinzessin von Anhalt

I have not confirmed whether it is valid or not, but I do trust the source. Nevertheless, the information noted in the email is verified by the family’s website. Would anyone care to place a wager on the outcome of “Prinz” von Anhalt’s libel suit?

  • 2. kathrynmdolan | April 14th, 2007 at 1:25 am

    And now Howard K. Stern is suing Virgie Arthur’s attorney for slander. The article link is here, as well as on my blog. I’ll be posting a defamation analysis up soon.

    Kathryn

  • 2. stephenshirron | April 13th, 2007 at 6:51 pm

    No way the prinz succeeds. My guess is that this will be dealt with in summary judgment, if not voluntarily dismissed. He is most definitely a public figure and he would have a hard time proving that Billy O acted with actual malice. Even assuming that Von Anhalt could prove actual malice, since truth is an absolut defense he would fail miserably. I mean, any one who claims to be a “prince” with no blood ties to royalty is obviously a fraud. Not to mention the fact that he claimed to be the father of Dannielynn (the basis of all of this) and it is a 99.999999% likelihood that Birkhead is the biological father. If Von Anhalt’s attorney wants to retain any credibility he should exercise a little “client control” and distance himself from this pretty quickly. I would be willing to take your wager if it is whether the suit is voluntarily dismissed or if it ends in summary judgment. I say summary judgment, I imagine Von Anhalt’s attorney wants to get all he can in legal fees. Of course, there is always the possibility that O’Reilly will pay him some nominal amount just to settle and avoid paying exhorbitant legal fees.

Gail Benson | March 26th, 2007 at 11:28 amI completely agree that the word “fraud” might not be such an inaccurate characterization of “Prince” von Anhalt. As you said, here is a man who has pretty much decided he is a prince – without having any nobility in his blood (at least to the point that would justify his self-proclaimed title) and who has decided to jump on the Anna Nicole Smith bandwagon of baby daddies… I think Prince von Anhalt’s best argument to his libel suit would be if he eventually ended up being the biological daughter of Dannielynn. Although it seems to be a bit of an oxymoron – if Prince von Anhalt IS the baby’s biological father (which I highly, highly doubt) then he’s not a fraud in the sense that he claimed to be the child’s father, but – now there’s blatant proof that he is an adulterer and, therefore, a fraud of a husband. Either way, this guy should have just kept his mouth shut; I think his only reward from this situation will be bad press.


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