Minnesota Appellate Upholds Free Speech Rights of Bloggers – Is Evavold Protected?

In a historic ruling from 2012, the Minnesota Appellate Court upholds the free speech rights of bloggers, rules that bloggers cannot be held liable for publishing true statements…

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How will this ruling bear on the case of Dede Evavold, who faces both a HRO hearing and a probation violation hearing, in relation to her blog “Red Herring Alert”. Evavold has even been held liable for true statements, which include multiple sources to verify their authenticity, which she did not personally make but were posted on her blog. “Red Herring Alert” includes articles from multiple authors and sources.

Blogger Dede Evavold has been slapped with a fraudulent HRO and faces jail time for publishing a blog, “Red Herring Alert”, after being banned by Judge Karen Asphaug, Dakota County, from mentioning the Grazzini-Rucki case for the next 8 years as a condition of probation.

Evavold was convicted of felony parental deprivation for her role in assisting two teenage sisters who ran away after a family court in Dakota County, presided over by Judge David L Knutson, failed to protect them from physical, emotional and sexual abuse. The father accused of abuse is wealthy and well-connected, and has been shown special treatment by both Judge Knutson and Judge Asphaug – who both, presided over previous criminal trials involving him. (See: Did judges in Sandra Grazzini-Rucki case previously fix husband’s cases?)

While Dakota County has branded Evavold as a “criminal”, may say she is a hero for her efforts to protect these children who vowed that they “would run away with or without help” after raising dozens of abuse allegations, and even speaking personally to Judge Knutson, that all went ignored. (See: The court created horror of the five Rucki children) The girls were called “liars” by the Guardian ad Litem, and accused by the court appointed therapist of being “brainwashed” despite the father’s lengthy criminal history, numerous police reports, HROs, and witness statements that attested to his propensity towards violence. (See: The definitive dossier documenting David Rucki’s violence: 99 pages of police reports, orders for protection, letters, affidavits, and more…)

(Judge Karen Asphaug, Judge David L Knutson)

 

Through blogging, Evavold has continued to raise awareness, and bring attention to, systemic injustices and corruption occurring across America’s political system today; and the devastating effect on individuals, families and children. As a wife and mother, Evavold feels a strong purpose in blogging – to inspire needed change so that this world can become a better place, and justice will be restored, not just for her family but for all future generations.

Just as egregious is the message being sent to abused children everywhere by Judge Karen Asphaug in this ridiculous condition of probation, and related charges, against Evavold and her free speech rightsA clear message is being sent to children, and victims of abuse, to remain silent because you will not be believed, and the system will not protect you but, instead, protect the perpetrator. The Grazzini-Rucki case has set a horrifying precedent, that, if you are a child who speaks out abuse in Dakota County, or reports abuse to the family court, police, social workers, therapists as these children did… you risk being called a “liar” and accused of being “brainwashed”. Social services and the court system will then force the child to “reunify” with the perpetrator against their wishes, despite their cries for help, and to the detriment of their safety, which is also what happened to these abused children – who now reside in the sole custody of the identified abuser.

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Will the Courts of Dakota County recognize Evavold’s Constitutional protections, and the precedent set by the Appellate, or strike a blow against freedom of speech?

 Stay tuned to “Red Herring Alert” for updates on Evavold’s shocking case, that will have far-reaching implications, and especially for writers and bloggers everywhere.

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THE JOHNNY NORTHSIDE LAWSUIT – “THE BLOGOSPHERE TRIAL OF THE CENTURY” AND BLOGGER’S RIGHTS

(August 20, 2012) In a 2012 defamation lawsuit against John Hoff, who publishes the blog “The Adventures of Johnny Northside”, the Minnesota Appellate Court, overturned a judgment issued against Hoff in defense of his 1st Amendment right to free speech.

A three-member panel of the Minnesota Court of Appeals overturned a $60,000 award for damages against Hoff.

Judge Jill Flaskamp Holbrook, appointed to that panel, stated in her decision that “Hoff’s blog post is the kind of speech that the First Amendment is designed to protect. He was publishing information about a public figure that he believed was true (and that the jury determined was not false) and that involved an issue of public concern . . . Attaching liability to this speech would infringe on Hoff’s First Amendment rights.

The lawsuit resulted after Hoff exposed Jerry Moore as being involved in a high-profile mortgage fraud case, and accused him of various misdeeds. At the time of the blog post. Moore worked at the University of Minnesota Urban Research and Outreach/Engagement Center, where his job was to study mortgage foreclosures. Moore was fired from his job the day after Hoff’s post. Moore then filed a lawsuit for financial damages against Hoff for two counts of tortious interference – meaning he was fired because of the blog. Hoff said he told the truth and had documentation to back up his claims.

The Court of Appeals reversed the jury’s decision, saying that Hoff can’t be sued for publishing statements that are true. The Court also found that there wasn’t evidence that there was anything besides Hoff’s protected speech that interfered with Moore’s contract.

Hoff declared his trial to be the “Blogosphere Trial of the Century”. Johnny Northside’s blog retired in June 2015, but archives can still be read online. The MisAdventures of Johnny Northside

More Info:

Justice Delayed But Not Denied – Appellate Court Overturns $60K Verdict Against Blogger for Posting “Not False” Information

Minnesota Court of Appeals: Johnny Northside blog IS protected by First Amendment

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Bloggers Have Same First Amendment Protections as Traditional Journalists – HRO vs Evavold Should Be Dismissed

This ruling should be a clear reminder to misguided attorneys, corporations, developers or those with affluence to cease bullying or intimidating those who report the issues of the day.” ~ Choon James

The purpose of the free press clause of the First Amendment was to keep an eye on people in power and maintain a check on corruption.

Given the cutbacks in traditional media, bloggers have taken up the slack, serving as watchdogs — with attitude…Yet we still see an uninformed attitude from some lawmakers and judges who seem not to understand that digital and social media deserve the same respect as newspapers, magazines and broadcasters. ” ~ Ken Paulson, USA Today: Bloggers have rights, too: Column

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The Crystal Cox lawsuit is a landmark court case that defines, and upholds, the 1st Amendment protections of bloggers.. and is relevant when considering the recent HRO issued against Dede Evavold – blogging is an exercise of protected speech and does NOT constitute ‘harassment’!

Judge Karen Asphaug violated the 1st Amendment Rights of Dede Evavold by issuing a harassment restraining order against her that constrains, and censors, her exercise of free speech. A court cannot issue an order that violates the Constitutional rights of a party; as such the HRO issued by Judge Asphaug is void and should be immediately dismissed.

Dede writes about the HRO: “Most of you are aware of the fact that I was maliciously prosecuted and falsely convicted in the State of Minnesota vs Deirdre Evavold Case No.19HA-CR-15-4227.

There were several conditions beyond state sentencing guidelines imposed on me. However, the one condition that numerous attorneys and rank and file citizens are most amazed by is the restriction on my first amendment right to free speech (Judge Asphaug ordered that I may NOT reference the family involved in this case  on any social media)

As previously reported, I filed a witness tampering complaint against the petitioner in 2016. I had received a harassing and threatening extortion letter from petitioner’s attorney to intimidate me into deleting this blog and coerce me into changing not only my plea but to coerce me into changing my testimony in Sandra’s case. Also,  petitioner coerced and intimidated his daughter into recanting her testimony which led to the addition of 4 more felony charges against me.

Once again, the petitioner is violating the law by: retaliating against a person who was summoned as a witnes..”  For more info on the Evavold HRO please read: When We Lose Free Speech-We Lose Everything

CONSIDER THIS….

Court: Bloggers Have Same First Amendment Protections as Traditional Journalists

(Source: Slate, Daniel Politi, 1/18/2014)

“A blogger—and, really, the public at large—has the same protections for free speech in the United State as a traditional journalist and can only lose a defamation lawsuit on an issue of public concern if plaintiffs manage to prove negligence.

In a ruling that may come as a surprise to many bloggers who probably didn’t even realize this was even a question, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new trial for Crystal Cox, a blogger who had lost a defamation lawsuit in 2011 over a blog post that accused an Oregon bankruptcy trustee and Obsidian Finance Group of fraud, reports the Associated Press. A jury had awarded the plaintiffs $2.5 million.

 

To be precise, the Ninth Circuit concludes that all who speak to the public, whether or not they are members of the institutional press, are equally protected by the First Amendment,’ writes Eugene Volokh, who represented Cox.”

 

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Confirmed: Bloggers Have First Amendment Rights as Corporate Media

(Source: Huff Post, ‘The Blog’. Choon James, 1/24/2014)

“On January 17, 2014, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Crystal L. Cox from Eureka, Montana who was sued by for defamation by Kevin Padrick, an attorney and his company – Obsidian Finance Group, LLC. Cox had written posts exposing fraud, corruption, money-laundering and so forth…
This ruling should be a clear reminder to misguided attorneys, corporations, developers or those with affluence to cease bullying or intimidating those who report the issues of the day.

Many concerned citizens have no choice but to create their own blogs and websites to level the playing field in this blossoming social media warfare.

The government has its plentiful public relations specialists, paid for by taxpayers. Corporations and special interests have their hired PR consultants. There are hired mercenaries who feel no qualms about spinning the facts. News media can be bought or controlled by big money or shut down.

It’s not uncommon for the public to read articles or watch the TV news only to lament the irregularities or inadequate reporting. Oftentimes, critical issues are shunned or ignored by corporate media because of entwined relationships.

Bloggers with information or have intimate experiences and understanding of issues are critically needed now, more than ever.

Blog away!”

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Court Says Bloggers are Journalists Too

(Source: Law Street, Anneliese Mahoney, 1/21/2014)

Last week, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the same standards that apply to journalists in print media also apply to bloggers and anyone else. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press member Gregg Leslie said, ‘it’s not a special right to the news media. So it’s a good thing for bloggers and citizen journalists and others.’

The case came from a Montana blogger named Crystal L. Cox….

The Court stated,

The protections of the First Amendment do not turn on whether the defendant was a trained journalist, formally affiliated with traditional news entities, engaged in conflict-of-interest disclosure, went beyond just assembling others’ writings, or tried to get both sides of a story. As the Supreme Court has accurately warned, a First Amendment distinction between the institutional press and other speakers is unworkable.” They went on to cite cases in which individual speakers have been granted First Amendment rights, despite not being a part of the established press. For example, the First Amendment rights of authors have often been protected, regardless of their training, background, or affiliations.

This is very good news for anyone who has a blog or even a desire to post things in an individual capacity on their social network…”

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(2011) Judge Knutson Orders Reunification Therapy with David Rucki and Children, while HRO in place

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In 2011, Judge David Knutson ordered the Rucki children into reunification therapy and supervised visits with father, David Rucki. This happened while a harassment order was still in place against Rucki, barring him from contact with the neighbors, their children and the children enrolled in the daycare they operated.

This emerging information raises questions on the Grazzini-Rucki case in regards to allegations of domestic abuse and the allegedly violent behavior of David Rucki.  If David Rucki is not safe around other children – why would he be safe around his own children?

Background: In September 2009 a neighbor filed for and received a harassment restraining order (HRO) against David Rucki due to his violent and threatening behavior; some of this menacing behavior occurred in front of small children. The harassment order included that David can not have any contact with the neighbor’s own children, and can not have contact with children in a local daycare (run by the neighbor).

According to the HRO David Rucki terrorized the family in the following ways:

Made Threats:He said he would unleash holy hell if we ever turned him in again”. “He also did a threat later in the street. He’s mad we called animal control over his dogs.”

Exhibited Frightening Behavior: Loud, Cursing, Coming in Close proximity to their house and mailbox.

Called the Victim(s) Abusive Names: Called my wife a “bitch” and my son a “son of a bitch” and called us “assholes”. Cursing at us while daycare kids present.

(The HRO is not being published to protect the identity of the victims)

While the HRO was in place, David violated the order. Judge Karen Asphaug dismissed the charges; Asphaug is now the criminal judge presiding over the cases regarding the missing Rucki sisters. The neighbors were so frightened that they placed security cameras around their home.

The HRO remained in place for 2 years – the only reason the neighbors did not renew the HRO was because Sandra Grazzini-Rucki had a protective order in place that prohibited David from coming near the cul-de-sac, where the neighbors also lived, so they felt that restraining order would also protect their family. (Sandra’s protective order was later dismissed by Judge Knutson).

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Judge David Knutson

Rucki has made statements to the press that he does not have an anger problem and has never abused his children. Rucki admits that sometimes he just gets “frustrated”.

Michael Volpe has also published police reports filed against Rucki detailing other incidents where he exhibited threatening and violent behavior on his blog: David Rucki’s Greatest Hits (The Provocateur)

Court documents also indicate that Rucki was ordered in anger management classes on 3 separate occasions, and during the divorce was ordered into domestic abuse counseling.

In November 2013, Judge Knutson granted Rucki full custody of the children – at the time, the two eldest girls were missing, and both had made various allegations of abuse against their father, and disclosed abuse to the court-appointed therapist. Judge Knutson said the abuse allegations were not credible, and accused mother Sandra Grazzini-Rucki of brainwashing and parental alienation.

 

At the time of the court order giving Rucki sole custody, he was still on probation for a domestic violence charge with a violation of an order for protection. Judge Asphaug presided over the pre-trial on this case. David was discharged from probation on October 17, 2014 (Case No. 19AV-CR-11-14682). 

Does parental alienation alone produce multiple police reports concerning violent behavior, multiple witness reports and HROs in regards to violent and threatening behavior? Or is this just an abuse excuse?  Stay tuned to Red Herring Alert as we keep you updated on the latest developments in the Grazzini-Rucki case!