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Friday, July 6, 2012

Blogger Dan Valenti ordered to take down posts about hit and run driver Meredith Nilan

Meredith Nilan:
Is she getting special treatment because she
is the daughter of a senior court official?

Penalty for hit and run accident that nearly killed the pedestrian:
She has to say she was sorry!

Update:  Here is one of Valenti's posts saved at a different site

OpenMarket.org reports:
Massachusetts District Court Judge Bethzaida Sanabria-Vega issued a “harassment prevention order” against a blogger, Dan Valenti, whose web site provided critical coverage of the actions of Meredith Nilan, the daughter of a senior court official, who struck a pedestrian with her car (leaving him with a broken neck), and then drove off (she was charged with leaving the scene of a personal injury accident and negligent operation of a motor vehicle, but in a deal with prosecutors, she will avoid any jail time in the case). The judge ordered Valenti to stop blogging about Nilan, demanding that he take down his prior blog posts about her, and remove “any and all references” to Nilan on “any and all” web sites.”The judge’s order in Nilan v. Valenti is a patent, flagrant violation of the First Amendment, as two lawyers, a law professor, and I noted in a July 4 story in the Berkshire Eagle that quoted us.
Restricting blog posts or tweets under the theory it is “harassment” violates the First Amendment, under federal court rulings like United States vCassidy, 814 F.Supp.2d 574 (D.Md. 2011), which ruled that repeated tweets denouncing someone were protected. This is even more true in the Nilan case, which is newsworthy and involves a matter of public concern.
Nilan apparently argued that Valenti’s blog posts resulted in angry members of the public (who may have perceived Nilan as receiving preferential treatment due to her being the daughter of a court official) making threats against her. But even if this is true, that would not change the fact that his blog posts were protected by the First Amendment. Speech is protected by the Supreme Court’s decisions in Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969) and Hess v. Indiana414 U.S. 105 (1973), even if some outraged readers make threats as a result, unless the speechdeliberately incites such threats. None of Valenti’s blog posts contained any such incitement. As Los Angeles lawyer Ken White has noted, the judge’s order violates well-established First Amendment principles, under which “only incitement that is calculated to cause, and likely to cause, imminent lawless action may be prohibited or punished.”
Peter Moore, the jogger that Meredith Nilan struck with her car 
before she fled the scene of the accident...
In 2010, at 39 years old, Judge Bethzaida Sanabria-Vega got a life time appointment to the Springfield, Massachusetts/Holyoke District Court by  Democratic Governor Deval Patrick.  A sweet heart deal on a hit and run with an injured victim?  The magistrate initially let Meredith Nilan walk saying there was no probable cause?   And her father, Clifford Nilan, is the Berkshire Court Probation Officer?  Yeah, the public might have questions about that?  Why is Judge Bethzaida Sanbria-Vega trying to quash free speech?  
Was she drinking that night?

Meredith Nilan, flanked by fellowBerkshire Young Professionals at a 'networking social' at Allium Bar in Great Barrington the evening of Dec. 8, 2011, just hours before an SUV driven by Ms. Nilan struck almost killing hospital administrator Peter Moore . 
Photo Credit: Facebook

h/t:  Instapundit 
In the Aaron Walker-Brett Kimberlin case:  Free Speech finally prevails in Maryland...
Planet Valenti complying with court's order...
Blogger William G. Ryan recreates Dan Valenti's posts on his own via Google cache and other sources...
Prior post by Ken at Popehat
Radley Balko at The Agitator

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