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Friday, October 28, 2011

Eric Deters' Libel Lawsuit Against The Whistleblower Is Dead: ACLU Saw Case As Bid To Stifle Political Satire

Whistleblower Lawsuit Settled
CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Less than two weeks before the trial, Northern Kentucky lawyer Eric Deters has abandoned his libel lawsuit against Jim Schifrin, publisher of a satirical online newsletter called The Whistleblower.  The publication is widely read in the Cincinnati area and started in the 1980s as a fax that was sent daily; it now resembles a blog that comes via e-mail.  The notice of dismissal was filed today.  The settlement approved by Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Bob Winkler calls for Schifrin to print an unedited statement from Deters -- something that Schifrin said he would have done long ago if asked.  (You can read the statement below.)  No money was paid out, and the out-of-court deal appears to be a victory for Schifrin and The Whistleblower.   The ACLU of Ohio represented the online publication.

Scott Greenwood, the Cincinnati lawyer who handled the ACLU's defense of the online publication, said Deters looked to be using the court system in an effort to silence someone who had a differing point of view.  Said Greenwood: "Political satire is a centuries-old tradition that has been used by visionaries  like Mark Twain, Aristophanes, and Jonathan Swift.  While the merits of Mr. Schifrin's stories may be debatable, his right to publish those ideas is not.  In addition, the courts should be used to expand our constitutional rights, not silence those contributing to civil discourse.  In the future, I hope Mr. Deters excercises his First Amending rights instead of using the courts in an attempt to curtail someone else's."  Links to earlier stories about the libel suit are here and here.  And some of Eric Deters' statement published by today's Whistleblower is as follows: "I remember receiving the “Whistleblower” by fax every day when I was a young lawyer and involved in politics.  I laughed.  When I received the nickname “Call Me Crazy”, I laughed.  I embraced this name.  Somewhere along the line, I believe the “Whistleblower” became a little too mean.
  I laughed less and simply stopped getting it.  When I read the column about me getting divorced (I’m not.  I wasn’t.) and giving Nicole Howell a “promise ring”, well, I went “crazy.” I only read it because I received a few calls about it.  I wish no one ever called me.  So, I sued.  This column is the settlement of the lawsuit.  I made my point.  Judge Robert Winkler, who overruled the Motion to Dismiss filed by the “Whistleblower” wanted us to resolve it.  There’s no money involved. Let’s face it.  People who hate you are going to hate you.  People who love you are going to love you.  The haters are going to pound you, but the fans aren’t going to care.  In my entire very public Kentucky Bar Association battle, including the press, blogs and this publication, I never lost a single client.  I thought as I wrote this, hell they will make fun of what I write here no matter what I write. So, for all you haters, keep hating.  For all you fans, thank you.  I enjoy life.  I plan on continuing enjoying life.  I have a great one . . .  Also, tune into my radio show on RealTalk 1160 A.M. from 7-9 a.m.  Monday thru Friday.  I’m willing to be the official radio show of the “Whistleblower” and Jim Schifrin can call in every Friday for a weekly report?"

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