Persuasive Essay On Freedom Of Speech

New Jersey recognizes the right of free speech granted to United States citizens under the Federal Constitution. Freedom of Speech is not only imperative right to be protected, but is one of the first Amendments to the Constitution that is essential to the democracy. Our court identifies this fact and must uphold this democratic institution in order to truly serve the informed American public. In turn, the courts must hold accountable the individuals who abuse this freedom, damaging the reputation and stature of another person.

Given that the statement is indeed false and defamatory with blatant disregard for the facts of the situation, which was intended to have malice intent; the person is therefore punishable by law. In the case of Shea Simmons v. Delaney Barnes and Cameron Winchell, a blog was posted about Shea Simmons calling her and her mock trial teacher, Ms. Taylor McBride, cheaters of a statewide competition. The two were accused of colluding in the hallway during a period in which the two were not allowed to speak to one another.

Essentially, highlighted in the blog post were attacks on the integrity of the Plaintiff and her mock trial coach here, “I saw the Metropolitan team cheat! The defense lawyer on the Metropolitan team, Shea Simmons… talked to her coach in the hallway during the trial… I saw them together in the hallway, talking strategy and game-planning the closing! ” (Exhibit P2). None of these allegations were proven to be true. As the state committee responsible for the competition held their own investigation, and the appeal was overturned due to a lack of evidence. The blog post remained up and continued to be shared by students and teachers.

Shea Simmons is bringing this matter to the courts against the defendants on behalf of defamation. The Plaintiff is suing for the loss of the $30,000 scholarship she would have received, had it not been for the blog post. She claims the statements made about her in the blog post eventually caused the executive director of the Metropolitan County Bar Foundation, Chris Harrison, to deny her the scholarship this year. Even though the appeal filled by Mr. Cameron Winchell was overturned, Mr. Chris Harrison cited lack of funds due to the scholarship being withdrawn.

It is my ruling based on the evidence provided, that I rule in favor of the Plaintiff. The two defendants listed did in fact make a defamatory statement of fact. The statement of fact made by both Mr. Winchell and Ms. Barnes was that Shea Simmons cheated at the mock trial, by violating the rules. When in fact, they both were made aware of the inconclusive evidence that proved otherwise by the state committee. Not like in the case of Thomas L. Mangan v. Corporate Synergies Group, Inc. , where the Plaintiff alleged the critiques of his performance as former CEO was defamatory. 34 F. Supp. 2d 199 (2011).

As the court told him statements made by his former constituents on his working abilities were not considered a statement of fact, but statements of opinion; which cannot be actionable. Stated here by Ms. Barnes in the second paragraph of Exhibit P2, “I saw them together, in the hallway talking strategy and game-planning the closing! ”. As her own testimony contradicts that statement in lines 41 to 42, “I only saw them for maybe 10 to 15 seconds, but it was clear I didn’t see the start of the conversation” (Delaney Barnes).

The point in which she says she witnessed them colluding, which in fact she was operating on the presumption of facts. She assumed from an overheard sentence and seeing the two talk in the hallway they were discussing the case. In this instance, Ms. Barnes forgot the notion, “it’s not what you think you know, but what you can prove”. She failed to present any hard facts or evidence in her accusations. In a similar case, Ronald Durando and Gustave Dotoli v. Nutley Sun and North Jersey Media Group, Inc. , the Plaintiffs failed to prove the Nutley Sun meant to cast a false light on their charges filed by the SEC. 209 N. J. 235 (2011).

Citing the two Plaintiffs were being charged with criminal activity and not arrested, Nutley Sun accidently misreported the facts as the opposite. The courts did find for the defendants; as the headline claiming the Plaintiffs were arrested was not done with malice intent nor, what the newspaper truly meant to report. This is not the case with the blog article posted in relation to Shea Simmons. Blantly, she was blamed for the lost Greenward Academy suffered. While, Mr. Winchell is just as guilty for his role in the blog posting. He cited that he “encouraged her to follow through on this idea” (Cameron Winchell, line 46).

His approval on the blog posting could have easily prevented this matter had he acted on his hindsight, and not his emotion of bitterness due to allegations. Furthermore, the Plaintiff provided sufficient evidence that the alleged defamatory statement related to the her specifically. In the blog posting, others can clearly see Ms. Barnes was referring to Shea Simmons. The Defendant was noted on two different occasions referring to the Plaintiff in name and the position of employment she held at her current work place. Highlighted in the Exhibit P2, where Ms. Barnes states, “Simmons is a CHEATER!!!! ”.

She had nothing but speculation to go on before writing this post. Even after both defendants were made aware of the state committee’s investigation, the blog post was still an exclusion of the facts. No mention of a formal investigation or the overall decision was still pending due to the nature of how serious the allegation was present. Ms. Barnes’ statement damaged not only the imagine of Shea Simmons, but the integrity of the entire Metropolitan mock trial team. As Mr. Winchell stated, he “encouraged her (Ms. Barnes) to follow through on this idea” (Cameron Winchell, Line 46). His permission places him to blame as much as Ms. Barnes.

Had there been an affirmation of the truth, just as in the case G. D. v Bernard Kenny and the Hudson County Democratic Organization, Inc. , he would have been found the victor of this lawsuit. In the case previously mentioned, the Plaintiff claimed Mr. Kenny used claims against his character, citing his past a previously convicted drug dealer in a political race. 411. N. J. Super. 176 (2009). The courts ruled in favor of the defendants, due to these claims actually being truthful. Citing G. D. previous arrest record with noted conviction of trafficking cocaine, the Plaintiff was unable to prove the alleged defamatory statement was false.

In addition to the previous conditions of defamation that were proven, the Plaintiff was also able to prove there was more than just Shea Simmons that saw the blog post. Exhibit P1 shows the link Delaney Barnes posted on her Blather account. Before the link, Ms. Barnes decided to urge people to, “share with as many as you can!!! ” (Exhibit P1). The post shows a total number of shares at 102 and 178 likes. The invitation to share non-factual based claims against someone is punishable in the court of law.

As seen in the court case Mayflower, LLC v. Prince, the promotion of false accusations can lead to a serious defamation case. The Defendantpurchased multiple domain names related to the shipping and storage company’s name after claims of damage to their personal belongings. Proposing, “what happened to me can and will happen to you”, the courts ruled this as one of the criteria for defamation because of the factual assertions in this statement. 314 F. Supp. 2d 362 (2004). With the website being similar in name to the main website of the company and able to be viewed publicly, the Plaintiff proved the page was seen by more than just themselves.

As the final requirement to prove defamation against the Plaintiff, both of the Defendants communicated the statements against the character of Shea Simmons with negligence towards ascertaining the falsity of the statement before communicating it. Before allowing the state committee to do their job, the Defendants acted on speculation of what they believed to be the truth. With no definite proof of their claims, Ms. Barnes took to the internet to what she believed to be true.

While, the Plaintiff failed to prove this factor in the case, Randy Senna, t/a Flippers Fascination v. Walter Florimont and 2400 Amusements, Inc. , the preceding judge ruled in favor of the Defendant. Mr. Senna became Mr. Florimont’s competition after he decided to open up an arcade shop relative to Florimont’s. The Defendantthen decided to take out a full page ad attacking the Plaintiff. He essentially lost the case due to the lack proof that it was the store owner who made these claims and not the employees of the business. Mr. Senna failed to show they acted with negligence towards the truth. 196. N. J. 469 (2008). Ms. Barnes and Mr. Winchell’s claims costed Shea Simmons a fair chance at college.

The funds for the scholarships were made available prior to the competition as shown in Exhibit D1. The email to Chris Harrison from the Treasurer of the Bar Foundation stated the funds would come from other accounts. Simply awarding Shea Simmons the scholarship I believed she rightfully earned and postponing the following year would have been best. Although that did not happen, I believe it was due to this blog post and the negative attention it drew to the competition. I award Shea Simmons the full amount of compensatory damages in the amount of $30,000 she is seeking and wish her the best in her future expeditions.