It seems to be a growing trend in New Jersey. Politicians attempting to silence citizens who oppose them by using the court system. First failed Camden County Freeholder candidate Vincent Squire filed frivolous criminal charges against this blogger in an attempt to silence this blog. Then the hosts of the Bob & Steve radio show blogged that former Salem County Sheriff candidate Bob Gant served a Notice of Tort Claim informing the radio hosts and 18 others that he intends to sue them for $350,000. Now New Jersey 101.5 radio is reporting that Springfield Councilman David Frank is suing three residents for defamation over a petition they submitted to the Municipal Clerk to have him recalled. Do New Jersey politicians not believe in the First Amendment?
In October Freeholder candidate Squire apparently unhappy with the extensive research conducted and reported on him, opinions about his candidacy expressed on this blog and political satire by the Blogger on social media filed multiple criminal charges against this blogger. At a Show Cause Hearing the Municipal Judge dropped all but one charge. Squire then posted a video on social media revealing his motivation for filing charges;
Squire incorrectly states that this Blogger had been “found guilty” of anything. A Show Cause hearing does not determine guilt or innocence. It was simply an opportunity for Squire to be heard on the charges he wished to file and a Judge to decide if those charges could proceed. Also, there is no mechanism in the legal system to appeal a Judge’s decision in a show cause hearing. This was all after Squire attempted to file charges in two other courts.
When Squire ran for Pennsauken Township Committee in 2017 it was learned that he has multiple felony convictions for Theft by Deception and a burglary conviction, that his family home owed over $1 million in fines and penalties to Pennsauken Township and that his family home was in foreclosure. In the summer of 2017 Squire was arrested and charged with Second Degree Felony Assault for beating his son. When Squire ran for Camden County Freeholder in 2018 he was quickly disavowed by the Camden County GOP, his felony charges were still pending and the foreclosure action on his family home continued. In the opinion of this blogger and many others Squire was wrong on the very issues he ran on and exhibited bizarre behavior during both his 2017 and 2018 campaigns. Squire, apparently in an attempt to silence this blogger filed multiple criminal charges until one moved forward. That charge will be vigorously defended.
This wasn’t the first time Squire fraudulently used the court system to silence his detractors. In 2017 he served myself and two other parties with a fake lawsuit for $10 million. Squire committed fraud when he “served” us with the lawsuit that contained a docket number that belonged to a lawsuit he filed against other parties.
A blog post on the Bob & Steve web site says that former Salem County Sheriff candidate Bob Gant served a Notice of Tort Claim informing the radio hosts and 18 others that he intends to sue them for $350,000. In his Notice of Tort Claim Gant writes, “October 9, 2018 Said named individuals wrongly released the Claimants personnel file.” The problem with this claim is The Bob & Steve Show released legal documents that were obtained through OPRA requests after he denied assaulting an inmate at the Salem County Jail. According to their blog post The Bob & Steve Show doesn’t have, nor ever had, his personnel file. Gant seems angry that after denying he beat an inmate The Bob & Steve Show found the former inmate, interviewed the inmate on the radio show and then proved the inmate was being truthful by releasing legally obtained legal documents. The documents were not a personnel file. In his Notice of Tort Claim Gant states, “The claimant has and continues to suffer both mentally, physically and emotional and economically as a result of the aforementioned breach.”
In the latest case NJ 101.5 reports that Springfield Councilman David Frank is suing three residents for defamation over a petition they submitted to the Municipal Clerk to have him recalled. The residents say that Frank’s lawsuit is an attempt by a politician to squash his opposition. Their lawyers have asked a judge to dismiss the case arguing that in addition to the First Amendment concerns the complaint is moot because the clerk never published the petition statement. The clerk refused to certify it after Frank threatened to the clerk with litigation. The recall petition claimed that residents are “entitled to a governing body that is free of individuals with personal financial conflicts, career political ambitions, and a lack of respect for the members of our community.” A Superior Court Judge is expected to making a ruling in February.
In referring to Gant’s Notice of Tort Claim on their blog The Bob & Steve show echoed sentiments I’ve made previously “Every blogger, news reporter and radio personality should pay close attention to Gant’s threats of a lawsuit as it is nothing more than a frivolous attempt at suppressing our First Amendment rights. As a reminder the First Amendment is clear, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” And, bloggers and radio personalities, like us or not, are members of the press”.
As I’ve said in previous blog posts Federal Courts have ruled that Bloggers have the same constitutional rights as journalists who work for established news organizations. I believe these politicians think they can intimidate Bloggers and citizens who oppose them by filing legal actions. As citizens we need to stand up to these politicians and let them know that we will not be intimidated! As Bloggers will not allow our rights to be infringed because we report information that these politicians would rather not be made public.
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