Showing posts with label First Amendment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label First Amendment. Show all posts

Friday, May 10, 2019

Visit from Alexandria’s Finest

Look who rolled through today! Sure hope he also contacted that real estate who came through leafleting about 30 minutes before me, LOL






Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Additional Details: Tenth Presbyterian Lawsuit

Here is the letter from the church’s attorney, as well as a photo that the attorney allegedly sent that purports to show Phil on the public sidewalk.

Do you see anyone running in terror? Me neither.









Thursday, September 6, 2018

“Sunlight is the Best Disinfectant”

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said:

“Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman." "The most important political office is that of the private citizen."

Very true, and no more so when trying to clean out a great stinking crock of spiritual goo like St. Dysfunction, aka Grace Episcopal Church




Monday, September 3, 2018

See for Yourself: Bob Malm Tries to Overcome First Amendment by Portraying Protests as a Form of Threat

Here’s a great email from Bob Malm, in which he deliberately tries to conflate First Amendment-protected protests on public property with threatening speech. At the same time, he tries to keep his posturing at arm’s length, by assigning the issue to his wife, Leslie, and unnamed “others.”

Of course, deliberately mischaracterizing aspects of this conflict is part and parcel of the whole Dysfunctional Bob and Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow bag of tricks—just check out Jeff’s most recent motion with the Alexandria Circuit Court in which he lies and claims I have violated the protective order. Attorney ethics issues, anyone? Christian ethics issues?

Bob Malm and Donald Trump: The First Amendment only applies to speech they like.

Heil Malm!




Saturday, August 25, 2018

See for Yourself: Bob Malm Urges Local Police Department to Abrogate First Amendment and Suppress Free Speech

This one is good. Leaving aside the fact that it clearly reveals Bob Malm as almost frantic to shut down criticism, we see Bob attempting to coax the Alexandria police department into rounding up protesters. 

So what next? Bob accuses you of “defamation,” and “slander,” without knowing what the words even mean, and the police swoop down and drag you off the streets?

Heil Malm! 






Saturday, August 11, 2018

Further Questions About Jeff Chiow’s Potential Ethics Issues

In an earlier post, I shared one attorney’s thoughts regarding Jeff Chiow’s conduct in this matter. Specifically, an attorney familiar with the case stated his opinion that Jeff is pursuing a personal vendetta. That raises the question: Are there larger ethics issues involved for Jeff Chiow and his representation of St. Dysfunction, aka Grace Episcopal Church and Dysfunctional Bob Malm? I believe the answer is yes.

Under the ABA model rules of professional responsibilities, which serve as the basis for the state rules of professional responsibility that regulate attorney conduct, there are several provisions that may apply.

Pursuant to rule 4.1, for example, there is an obligation to be truthful in statements to others. In relevant part, it provides:
In the course of representing a client a lawyer shall not knowingly:
(a) make a false statement of material fact or law to a third person;
That is difficult to reconcile with the language of several documents prepared by Jeff, including one that references a purported church shooting in a nonexistent town in Texas, or his claims that he was unaware that my mother is quite ill, or his statements that I left the church on my own after resigning from the vestry. (If the latter is true, why then did Bob Malm need to send an email directing me to obtain a letter of transfer? And why include Mike in that email? My belief: Jeff is either incredibly dumb, or he’s dishonest, or both.)

Similarly, having practiced law for a number of years, we must assume that Jeff understands basic legal concepts and terminology. In that context, Jeff repeatedly contends that somehow blogging about someone is harassment. That’s another curious proposition, since 1) Under Virginia law, harassment requires direct contact with the victim, either in person, or by phone, text, or email. 2) Jeff presumably understands that, under the First Amendment, bloggers receive the same constitutional protections as other journalists. Think about it: Were repeated blogging about a particular topic grounds for harassment, major media outlets, like Time and CNN, would have been convicted long ago of harassing Donald Trump (an outcome of which the latter would no doubt approve — but I digress).

One can then turn to his assertions that Mom’s collective pseudonyms are somehow a threat. But threat jurisprudence is well established; to not be protected under the First Amendment, language must be a clear threat. That’s a very high standard, and court cases are replete with situations in which the courts have protected even facially troubling language.

Relatedly, Jeff tries to run roughshod over the First Amendment right to anonymity by repeatedly suggesting that there is something nefarious about Mom’s use of a collective pseudonym. But anonymity and pseudonymity are well-established rights, dating back to the framers of the Constitution and including the Federalist Papers, Deep Throat, and many other high water marks in our constitutional scheme of governance. As an attorney, Jeff either knows this, or should know it. (If not, we then enter into the realm of professional incompetence, which would mean that Jeff has an ethics issue, but from another angle.)

One then bumps into the issues, previously discussed, with Jeff’s use of inflammatory language in his legal writing, referring to “ranting and raving,” “domestic terrorism,” “ceaseless harassment” and more. Such conduct is, I believe, highly inappropriate for an officer of the court, and undermines respect for our legal system. This is reflected in Rule 8.4(d), which forbids conduct “prejudicial to the administration of justice.”

Underpinning all of this is a baseline issue, which is Jeff’s obligation to only pursue meritorious claims. In this regard, Rule 3.1 provides: 
A lawyer shall not bring or defend a proceeding, or assert or controvert an issue therein, unless there is a basis in law and fact for doing so that is not frivolous, which includes a good faith argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law.
Having already discussed the various problems with Jeff’s case, Rule 3.1 suggests that Jeff is, at best, on thin ice. This view is bolstered by the comments of the third party attorney, who stated the belief that Jeff is “coming at [me] with a personal vendetta.” That speaks to motive and judgment, and in both, Jeff’s actions and conduct are questionable.

Of course, as an avid reader of my blog, Jeff at this point has had ample opportunity to consider his position and his professional ethics, as well as his personal ethics as a purported Christian. He’s also had plenty of time to consider the implications of his actions for his clients and the reputational damage he is causing. So at this point, we can only wait and see. But my opinion is this: At this juncture, there is no outcome in which Jeff’s clients are better off than they were before Bob Malm’s stupid — and unethical — decision to revive our dispute.

To use two words Bob Malm (a paragon of appropriate clergy conduct, if there ever was one) likes to use in reference to me: 

Sad.
Dysfunctional.





Friday, July 27, 2018

Update: Depositions Set for Late August

It’s fair to say that Bob Malm’s vendetta — and his waste of time, money, and other church resources — continues unabated at a time when St. Dysfunction Grace Episcopal Church is stretched perilously thin, financially and in every other way.

My attorney will be taking Bob Malm’s deposition on Thursday, August 30, as we seek to move past Bob’s disingenuous efforts at avoiding a full accounting for his actions. That’s telling: Shouldn’t clergy model transparency and accountability? But that has never been Bob’s modus operandi. 

Instead, Bob’s approach is all about appearances, and getting what he can for himself. And if you write about Bob’s antics, he’ll carry on about “attacks on the Internet,” never once considering that, if he were actually doing his job, there just wouldn’t be anything to write about. Moreover, he’s lost sight of one important truth in all of this: Even if he prevails with his protective order, which was obtained based on his various distortions and misrepresentations, I certainly will not stop writing.

Moreover, both Bob and his attorney, Jeff Chiow, deliberately overlook a key point, which is that courts have held that bloggers are considered jounalists for purposes of the First Amendment. Someone can write about their experiences as much as they want, and it simply is not “harassment,” as falsely claimed by Jeff Chiow. Harassment only comes into play when there is direct communication between the parties — as in Leslie Malm’s repeated efforts to communicate with me via email, even after I told Jeff I wanted no further contact from Bob or any member of his family.

Bob will be taking my deposition the following day, Friday, August 31. Look for additional detail on these issues at the appropriate time.

Meanwhile, I invite parishioners to ask how the time and money Bob and Jeff have spent on trying to bully me and Mike compare with the time and money they have spent on Carpenter’s Shelter, or Bob’s (non-existent) trips to Haiti, or the food pantry.

Bottom line, the more Bob and Jeff pursue this matter, the more they prove my point, which is that St. Dysfunction Grace Episcopal Church is both toxic, and seriously messed up in its priorities.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Where’s Bob Malm When You Need Him?

As an unabashed liberal, I am in fear for my life!

Oh, wait. Local law enforcement determined there’s nothing illegal about the sign.







Monday, July 23, 2018

See for Yourself: Email Conclusively Shows Alexandria City Officials Working with Grace to Suppress First Amendment Activities

I recently obtained a copy of the attached internal email, in which city of Alexandria police officials acknowledge in writing their efforts to identify legal strategies to suppress First Amendment-protected protests outside the church and online criticism.

My opinion: The City of Alexandria should not be providing free legal advice in civil matters, and certainly not when the First Amendment comes into play.




Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Defamation and the First Amendment

In an action for defamation, plaintiffs face an uphill battle when they meet the legal definition of a public figure. Under our legal system, the First Amendment creates a high bar for such individuals, who are considered to have voluntarily placed themselves in the public spotlight. In such cases, plaintiffs typically must prove actual malice or a reckless disregard for the truth.

In the case referenced in this post, a California judge ruled that, under this analysis, clergy are public figures. As the author notes, these and similar cases are good news for the burgeoning group of church survivor websites, such as this.

Find the full article at http://danielsilliman.blogspot.qa/2013/03/judge-pastor-not-protected-from-public.html?m=1

Sound familiar?

* Note: An appeals court later held that the trial court misconstrued the public figure doctrine as it applied to this case.