September 29, 2007

Murtha Must Testify in Defamation Case
— Dave In Texas

A federal judge refused to dismiss the case against the congressman, brought by a Marine Corps Sergeant, over his despicable and uninformed remarks about the Haditha case.

Most of us have seen the video, where he was confronted by Jason Mattera on his way to the elevator and asked if he would apologize for those remarks now that charges against two Marines were dropped. The jackass mumbled "the trial is still going on".

He was dead wrong, ignorant of the facts, and still wouldn't budge. Bryan Preston asks the question, if most Americans can't get away with slander, why should he?

He shouldn't, and I'm glad to see the judge agreed.

Posted by: Dave In Texas at 04:06 AM | Comments (32)
Post contains 123 words, total size 1 kb.

1 Its going to feel  so  good  to  see this  pompous  fool   settle  to  the  bottom  of  the  slime  where it  really  never  should  have  left. Pitoooey  Just  reading  about  murtha  turns  my stomach

Posted by: rick554 at September 29, 2007 04:27 AM (8nB5X)

2 Murtha has always been a good friend to the Arabs. Those willing to pay.

Posted by: Banjo at September 29, 2007 04:31 AM (1DQ52)

3 IIRC, Murtha would only be immune from lawsuit if he was speaking on the House floor. He wasn't. Mr. Mumbles knows that his fat ass is in a sling.

Posted by: GarandFan at September 29, 2007 05:06 AM (+tCxF)

4 I predict Murtha will soon have some allies in the media (on the narrow 1st Amendment principle of Reporters-are-above- the-law too, since we all know the MSM supports the troops):

Mark S. Zaid, the attorney for the plaintiff, Marine Staff Sgt. Frank
Wuterich, said he wanted Murtha's deposition and limited documents from
the congressman, including calendars and documents related to which
he spoke to.

Posted by: capitano at September 29, 2007 05:17 AM (+NO33)

5 What the F-ck is wrong with th Justice Department? They tried to get the
case dismissed against Murtha!! 

Scooter Libby: Wrongfully investigated and convicted because they knew who was the original source for the "outing" of Plame.

Sandy Burger: Stole and destroyed classified documents then given a
slap on the wrist.

Ramos and Campeon: Border Agents wrongfully prosecuted and convicted
for the shooting of an illegal alien drug smuggler. They even gave a DRUG
F-CKING SMUGLER immunity for testifying against them.

Various News Outlets: No investigations or prosecutions for leaking
highly classified information that would aid our enemies in a time of war.

The Bush Justice department is so FUBAR'd I hope the next Republican
administration cleans house as quickly as they can!!!!!!

Posted by: McLovin at September 29, 2007 05:35 AM (ipez1)

6 I guess that whole immunity thing disappears once one leaves the House podium, sucker.

Posted by: joeindc44 at September 29, 2007 05:56 AM (X4wDb)

7 I wonder if Jack is going to be able to earmark the monetary settlement he'll be forced to pay.

Posted by: cranky at September 29, 2007 06:10 AM (7rKVk)

8 McLovin hit the bullseye. The question in my mind is how of the blame belongs to Speedy Gonzales. Bush sacrificed competence for loyalty when he dragged that crowd of toadies and yes-men with him from Austin.

Posted by: Banjo at September 29, 2007 06:19 AM (1DQ52)


Banjo, huh?  If Gonzo or Ashy were loyal Bush men, then maybe-just maybe-the justice department would have done a better job for the conservatives in this country.

I do agree with McLovin and hope that President Guiliani will be aggressive in defending this country and not allow idiot lawyers and diplomats in his administration to undermine the country or his administration.

The prospect of a president Romney, Guiliani, or even Thompson being willing and able to push back against the media and mid-level administration traitors (calling the media traitors is redundant) and to communicate conservative ideals that have pushed America ahead of the soft socialism and soft-death spiral of Europe and Japan.

Posted by: joeindc44 at September 29, 2007 06:27 AM (X4wDb)


oh, finishing my thought, that ability to be fiscal and defensive conservatives and to communicate said message outweighs any potential, not so socially conservativeness on their parts. 

Posted by: joeindc44 at September 29, 2007 06:29 AM (X4wDb)

11 How's all that "comity" shit been workin' out for you, Dubya?  Nope, it ain't working too well for the rest of us,either...

Posted by: sherlock at September 29, 2007 06:30 AM (ojW85)

12 Members of Congress, Democratic members of Congress, being held accountable for the words that come out of their mouths?  This could set a horrible precedent.  No wonder Washington wishes this suit would go away...

Posted by: rHomer Simpson at September 29, 2007 06:32 AM (2o4KV)


I'm pretty sure that since Murtha's served in the military, he cannot be held accountable for anything ever.  He's a war hero don'tcha know.

If any of you morons have legal experience with this sort of case, what are the chances that this results in a successful verdict for the good soldier?

Is slander difficult to prove?

I don't want to get my hopes up that grandpa Simpson is going to get what's coming to him only to be disappointed because the case lacked some critical element.

Also, will the trial be held in Okinawa?

Posted by: Rosetta at September 29, 2007 06:37 AM (omkIU)


Bumpersticker proposal:

[ When I want COMITY, I'll watch SNL ]


Posted by: sherlock at September 29, 2007 06:38 AM (ojW85)

15 Rosetta,

I like that. A trial held over the horizon.

And maybe the good soldier will find his pot of gold over the rainbow.

Posted by: McLovin at September 29, 2007 06:42 AM (ipez1)

16 If the lawsuit thing doesn't work, we could just field-trial him for treason and find a convenient backstop.

Posted by: SGT Dan at September 29, 2007 06:56 AM (oOQel)

17 If the lawsuit thing doesn't work, we could just field-trial him for treason and find a convenient backstop.


Posted by: not that ryan at September 29, 2007 07:09 AM (J3svr)


Slander is very difficult to prove.  In fact, American requirements for slander are tougher to prove than most anywhere else in the world.  Our heightened requirements evolved based on First Amendment grounds; generally, this does a lot of good things.  This fact also does this: the First Amendment is already safeguarded in the standards and required elements of the tort; the First Amendment is not an independant defense, it is already incorporated into the law. 

In general, the toughest element to prove is knowing falsity or reckless disregard for the truth (either will do).  However, in this case, the Marines are almost certainly "private persons" for whom the law safeguards a greater degree of privacy than for "public persons."  "Private persons" can be slandered by less than knowing falsity.  This standard was formed in New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964). 

One exception Murtha will use as a defense might be that his statement was opinion.  The rule that under the first Amendment there is "no such thing as a false idea" was the ruling under Gertz v. Welch, 418 U.S. 323 (1974).  This idea was rejected as an absolute defense in Milkovich v. Lorain Journal Co., 497 U.S. 1 (1990).  However, the argument is still mitigating in that it tends to disprove the guilty mind i.e. "men rea."

Another exception Murtha will definitely try to hang his hat on is "political speech," which is a strong defense.  While he is not immune, as he would be if he had spoken as he did but on the floor of Congress, "political speech" can save an otherwise slanderous statement. 

Overall, the law looks like it favors the Marines, but Murtha will have good attorneys, and slander is very difficult to prove. 

And yes, I am in law school, but this information is all available on the Wiki.  The text of the cases can be found using Google. 

Posted by: MMShillelagh at September 29, 2007 07:50 AM (RFY4o)

19 Oh, I forgot.  At common law, there were certain allegations that were slander per se.  I don't think this operates at the Federal level, but most States recognize it.  Allegations involving crimes of "moral turpitude" are slander per se.   Others are (and this is were common law is so much fun) "unchastity," "loathesome disease," and allegations that adversely affect the business interests of the slandered party. 

Posted by: MMShillelagh at September 29, 2007 07:54 AM (RFY4o)

20 MMshillelagh-- But Murtha said he had been briefed or seen reports.  That takes it out of opinion into an allegation of facts.

Posted by: rHomer Simpson at September 29, 2007 09:03 AM (2o4KV)

21 Thanks MMShillelagh.  Great explanation.

Posted by: Rosetta at September 29, 2007 09:10 AM (omkIU)


I'm pretty sure Murtha has had his last invitation to a Marine Corps Birthday Ball...

semper fi,


Posted by: Nozzle at September 29, 2007 10:55 AM (+rOvD)

23 If Murtha didn't slander these men by accusing them of murder, then SLANDER NO LONGER EXISTS.

I repeat, if false accusations of cold-blooded murder are not slander, then NOTHING IS.

Or, more accurately, slander laws may only be prosecuted against the politically weak or unpopular. You know, like laws were in the Soviet Union.

I really fucking hate lawyers with a  fucking vengeance. You build something decent and the lawyers attack it from the inside while the reporters and academics attack it from the outside. Why don't they all go to Iran or China or North Korea and ply their trade there? Oh, because it's not safe like it is here, gee, I forgot.

Posted by: Merovign at September 29, 2007 11:24 AM (IaYDo)

24 People keep pointing out that "charges were dropped" - without mentioning that, at least in the case of Sgt. Sanick Dela Cruz, the charges were dropped in exchange for his testimony against Wuterich.

Why do people ignore that? It is nothing short of misleading to leave it out if you're aware of it.

And please remember what Murtha said in his first comments on the subject in My, 2006: "...there was no firefight, there was no IED that killed these innocent people. Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood."

The context of a Marine speaking about the too-much pressure being put on Marines, due to the gross mismanagement of the war - again: how do you ignore that?

Posted by: Thom at September 29, 2007 12:21 PM (3jLID)


Rep. Murtha‘s comments (from one of the most powerful government officials alive, and therefore carry much weight) state (not "effectively" or "essentially", but directly, AIU them) that the accused Marines are guilty.

Setting aside the question, for the moment, of slander, why not charge Rep. Murtha with jury tampering and obstruction of justice?

I realize that the pool of jurors is small (a selection of Marines, not all Marines, not the general public), but the principle is the same.

Additionally, Service Members are just a bit more sensitive to the words of civilian government officials than the general public is (just look at Code Pink, MoveOn, . . . . . .)

At the very least, why has the House of Representatives not censured Rep. Murtha for his words (and bounced him)?

Posted by: Arbalest at September 29, 2007 12:36 PM (+1HeQ)

26 Thom, he said he had seen the evidence and it proved them guilty.

I await the slander trial with great interest.

Posted by: qrstuv at September 29, 2007 01:08 PM (Z3lex)


not so socially conservativeness on their parts. 

And few of their parts have been socially conservative.

Posted by: Ralph L at September 29, 2007 02:09 PM (AoKjV)

28 You've got to know he won't lost the slander suit. And wanting it, against that marine, in the name of some quasi defense of Marines, is nonsensical.

Well, what if he had seen the evidence (whoch he probably had)? If you had seen it you might have come to the same conclusion. and again: Taking it out of Murtha's context, that to much pressure was being put on the Marines as a whole, is just plainly deceitful.

You don't agree with him politically. Good on ya. Why can't you just stick to that with honor?

Posted by: Thom at September 29, 2007 02:34 PM (3jLID)

29 Not drinking, honestly. Just not checking my spelling...

Posted by: Thom at September 29, 2007 02:40 PM (3jLID)

30 "You've got to know he won't lost the slander suit."

Yeah, really?


Posted by: qrstuv at September 29, 2007 05:11 PM (Z3lex)

31 Thom, seriously?  You have to be drinking to be thinking the way you are.

Murtha is an elected public official with access to national security information.  He used that info to  appoint himself judge and jury of fellow Marines, and you stick up for him?  I don't give a damn what evidence he saw.  That evidence wasn't presented in a court of law at that time, ( not to mention it was confidential military information) and he spewed it on national television. He prosecuted those Marines without a trial, and compromised their safety. He had no right, moral or legal, to do that.

As far as taking it out of context, don't be such a dolt and pretend that is the only time Murtha shot off his mouth against our military.  He's been doing it for years.

Posted by: LeAnn at September 29, 2007 06:05 PM (eHaWc)

32 Murtha's lawyer better be capable of shitting Tiffany cufflinks or this sonofabitch is going to fry...What jury is not going to be supportive of young warriors who were "thrown under the bus" by a powerful politician? 

Posted by: Nozzle at September 30, 2007 01:42 AM (+rOvD)

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