Fear Factor?

Is a $1.75 million lawsuit scarier than one for $25,000? Only if you lose.

Libel is the publication of false and defamatory statements, presented as fact. Where public figures are concerned, there must also be proven “actual malice.”

In other words, you have to publish statements presented as fact that you know to be false, with the intent of doing harm to the person in question. It doesn’t include statements of opinion, just statements presented as fact.

The LetsTalkFrank.com website that generated the threat of a $1.75 million libel suit simply contains public records on file in Anderson County, primarily from the Sheriff’s Department. No claim was made as to the veracity of the statements in the public record, but in my opinion, the women who made those statements had little to gain – and much to lose – by going up against the Probation Director who was in a position to make their lives much more difficult.

Also a matter of public record is the arrest of Beauchamp’s attorney, Michael Wayne Ritter, for DUI on May 9, as published in the Oak Ridger. And his censure by the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility in August, 2004. [Hat tip to anotherthing2]

Personally, I wholeheartedly agree with David Stuart that the TBI file should be made public now. The central figure in this investigation is heavily involved in campaigns of several people up for election next Thursday, and the outcome of this election will undoubtedly influence the power wielded by someone with serious ethical allegations outstanding.

LetsTalkFrank.com is up to 4,872 visits and counting — a number bolstered by 350 or so just since the appearance of the most recent Oak Ridger story. All those press releases about lawsuits are driving traffic so fast that it soon won’t matter whether they succeed in getting the site host to take it down… every voter in the county will have already seen it.

5 Responses to “Fear Factor?”

  1. on 28 Jul 2006 at 6:49 am AT

    Boy, what bugs me is that this is a whole out assault on the web community in O.R., which threatens more than a few of us.
    I’d imagine that industrious people have copied the website, images, and scripts, in case (for some reason) the server went down, and could host on another spot in a hurry.

  2. on 28 Jul 2006 at 11:52 am Joel

    Well, yeah, that’s the weird thing. By announcing his intention to sue, Beauchamp just brings more publicity. He’s either fiendishly clever or appallingly stupid.

  3. on 28 Jul 2006 at 2:03 pm AT

    I like the fact that he’s waiting until after the election to do the depositions in Stuart’s case. Oak Ridger just blew right past that one.

  4. on 28 Jul 2006 at 5:03 pm Anonymous

    Have you checked out anymore about Mike Ritter? It seems he also likes to marry his secretaries and take off for a few months and then come back to work as an attorney for a while and then take off again. Not a very reputable attorney in this area!

  5. on 29 Jul 2006 at 12:21 am Anotherthing2

    Yes I caught that too AT. Do you think that maybe there was something that he’s trying to hide till after the election?

    Was there something they were afraid that would come out during questioning that would give credence to the allegations? The thing with depositions is that they are public information once filed with the court. All you need is a court case number to obtain copies.

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