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Judge's Ruling on Montana Blogger's Case Has Been Widely Misinterpreted

By       Message Roger Shuler       (Page 1 of 4 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   1 comment

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View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to H3 12/22/11

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Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer

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A federal judge recently found that a Montana blogger could not claim protections afforded mainstream journalists, and that ruling led to a $2.5-million defamation judgment against the blogger.

News outlets have reported that the ruling, by U.S. District Judge Marco Hernandez of Oregon, has  implications for bloggers across the country. In fact, the story hit close to home here recently when I had an e-conversation with a prominent figure in the progressive blogosphere. This was a gentleman I do not know well, but I have admired his work from afar for years, and he stated that his organization now might be at heightened risk because of the Montana blogger's case.

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That's when I decided Legal Schnauzer needed to provide clarification on this issue. It's true that Judge Hernandez' ruling might set off a chain of events that someday could have broad implications for non-traditional journalists. But that process could take 10 years or more, and Hernandez' finding could be completely overturned along the way. For now, the ruling has implications for only one blogger--and that's Crystal L. Cox, the Montana woman who was on the wrong end of the $2.5-million judgment.

In fact, the outcome might not even have much impact on Cox. She has stated that she doesn't have the necessary funds to pay the judgment. And Kevin Padrick, the Oregon lawyer who sued Cox, acknowledges that he is not likely to receive much, if any, of the judgment.

So what should the public make of the Crystal L. Cox ruling? In my judgment, not a whole lot. Should people pay attention to Crystal L. Cox and her work as a citizen journalist? In my judgment, they should.

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Cox, a feisty resident of Eureka, Montana, bills herself as an investigative blogger, real estate broker/owner, and real estate whistleblower, among other things. She blogs at a host of sites, including, and

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I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and work in higher education. I became interested in justice-related issues after experiencing gross judicial corruption in Alabama state courts. This corruption has a strong political component. The corrupt judges are (more...)

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