Lying blogger ordered to pay $3.5 million in defamation lawsuit
A Shelby County, Alabama, blogger, who spent five months in jail before agreeing to remove stories from his website about the son of a former governor, has now been ordered to pay $3.5 million in a defamation lawsuit filed by a former campaign manager for the state Attorney General.
The blogger had written about an fictional affair between the attorney general and the campaign manager.
Jefferson County Circuit Judge Donald Blankenship on Monday entered a default judgment against Roger Shuler and his website Legal Schnauzer for $1.5 million in compensatory and $2 million in punitive damages. The judge wrote that all the elements for the judgment were present, including that a false and defamatory statement was made.
The campaign manager -- attorney Jessica Medeiros Garrison -- filed the defamation lawsuit in 2013 against Shuler. She had managed Strange's 2010 campaign for Attorney General and served as Chief Counsel and Deputy Attorney General in 2011.
'The facts are clear and the judgment speaks for itself,' Garrison stated in an email Tuesday to AL.com. 'The absolute and blatant disregard for the truth has to come with consequences. I am very happy to finally be in a position to set the record straight,' she wrote.
Shuler is a former newspaper reporter who since 2007 has maintained the blog Legal Schnauzer. The blog aims to "scale all obstacles in pursuit of truth and justice" and since its founding Shuler has used it to allege a wide variety of illegal or unethical activities by Alabama's public officials and political figures.
In late 2013, Shuler posted claims that Rob Riley, son of a former Alabama Governor, was engaged in an extra-marital affair. Riley strongly denied the allegation and went to court seeking an injunction prohibiting Shuler from writing anything further about the alleged affair and asking that all posts about Riley be removed from the blog.
Circuit Judge Claud Neilson issued the requested injunction, but Schuler did not comply with the injunction. He not only refused to remove his earlier posts on Riley but also soon wrote a new one. Shuler's non-compliance landed him in jail for contempt of court. He remained in jail for 5 months until he could not bear incarceration any longer. In March 2014, Shuler had his wife remove the allegedly defamatory posts about Riley and he was released from jail.