The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent



... found to be nonlibelous, at least in this context.


From Smith v. Griffiths, decided Wednesday by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, the opening paragraphs:

This appeal arises out of a defamation action filed in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County by Gerald I. Smith, Jr., appellant, against Brian Griffiths, appellee. Mr. Smith was a candidate in the 2018 Republican primary for the United States Senate in Maryland. He alleged in his complaint that statements made by Mr. Griffiths in an article posted on the political website blog "Red Maryland" were defamatory and "motivated by ill-will." {Smith [argued] that the statements at issue concerned: (a) the five statements in Griffiths' article that are not direct quotations from Smith's own writing; (b) the separate statement in [an] email; and, (c) the headline "CRAZY."} …

[We hold that,] because each statement at issue is either an assertion of fact or covered by the First Amendment conditional privilege and fair comment privilege, none of the statements provides a basis for liability….

In 2018, Mr. Smith was a Republican candidate in Maryland's primary race for the United States Senate. Mr. Griffiths is a self-described "noted Maryland political commentator whose work has appeared in such publications as The Baltimore Sun [and] The Annapolis Capital" and is the editor-in-chief and a founding contributor of the political blog and newsletter Red Maryland….

After Mr. Smith filed his candidacy with the State Board of Elections, on January 30, 2018, Mr. Griffiths posted an article entitled "Conspiracy Theorist Files for U.S. Senate." Initially, a Looney Tunes logo appeared at the top of the post, but Mr. Griffiths later deleted the logo and replaced it with the hand-written word "CRAZY." The vast majority of the article quoted Mr. Smith's own words, with Mr. Griffiths contributing only those sentences highlighted in bold below:

A conspiracy Theorist filed as a Republican for U.S. Senate today.

Gerald I. Smith, Jr. filed with the State Board of Elections and made a statement on Facebook that you have to see to believe.

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Gerald Smith

It's official[.] I'm running for U.S. Senate as a Republican in the state of Maryland. I'm the only Republican running thus far and hope it stats that way (the link below provides details on all the candidates running thus far). Chelsea Manning is running as a Democrat and I've already reached out to her campaign in hopes of doing some informal debates/discussions. Hopefully I can get some funding from the RNC and other organizations so I can establish a website which will al… See More

2018 Candidate Listing

The State Board of Elections provides all eligible citizens of the State convenient a…

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Smith runs a website entitled "Human Rights Support" that explains … well, I'll let Smith's own words explain it.

U.S. Air Force Catholic senior leaders in conjunction with other senior government officials used former Air Force Major Gerald I. Smith Jr.'s 1989 religious event to plan and cover-up the worst tragedy in American history. Based on the timeline of events Catholics and others wanted to use Gerald's religious events as an opportunity to make 9/11 appear as a religious Biblical event. The 1989 religious event that involved Gerald was reported to the Catholic Church by Catholic individuals who were also involved in the 1989 religious event. As sickening as this may sound based on the numerous horrific actions taken against Gerald it's obvious numerous individuals have been involved in the planning and continued execution of one of the worst plans ever conceived in U.S. history.

Individuals like President Obama and Vice President Biden knew of this plan and did their absolute best to use Gerald Smith to achieve their personal political goals. Even while serving in the Peace Corps in Ukraine from 1997-1999 many actions were planned against Gerald Smith. While Gerald was contemplating joining the military after receiving his MBA the Air Force and others planned Gerald's first day in the military to be one week prior to 9/11. Shortly after 9/11 senior Air Force members were given the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff position along with other key government positions.

Later in 2008 shortly after Gerald Smith was assigned to Ramstein Air Base Germany, the Air Force and others planned a needle stabbing incident against Gerald which led to religious visions – specifically Catholic. The first religious vision occurred on Columbus Day 2008. Based on many facts the timing of this Catholic vision for this day was by no coincidence. After Gerald Smith filed complaints with the Air Force and German police he encountered many years of severe harassment. The reprisal against Gerald included many illegal cruel actions to include being improperly referred to mental health where two Air Force Catholic mental health doctors tried to declare Gerald delusional. After hiring several lawyers, Gerald was the first person in the history of the Air Force to be returned to active duty with the false diagnosis of delusional. Gerald later went to Army doctors for further evaluation where it was determined there was "no evidence of medical or psychiatric issues."

The harassment against Gerald Smith lasted until his separation from the Air Force which was on 31 March 2014. Due to the continued harassment both on the military base and in the Dover, Delaware community Gerald filed a federal lawsuit in the District of Delaware. The court documents regarding Gerald Smith's case are publicly available via the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) service. The complaint number is 15-112. Since the federal judge in Delaware did not approve Gerald's motion for change of venue and also due to the outside influence of powerful individuals like Vice President Biden who was a U.S. Senator from Delaware from 1973 to 2009, Gerald is planning to refile his federal lawsuit in Manhattan, New York district court sometime in 2017. Also due to the failure of the District of Delaware federal court to follow proper procedure Gerald asked the International Criminal Court for assistance where his case is currently under consideration. Click the "Human Rights Violations" tab above or the "Read More" button below to see the organizations and documents that Gerald reported the human rights violations to.

Needless to say that as a Catholic I really don't have a lot of time for this type of what appears to be anti-Catholic nonsense or with somebody who was willing to collaborate with a traitor like Chelsea Manning.

There are still four weeks until the filing deadline; here's hoping that we have a credible Republican candidate file between now and then….

You can see more in the opinion, but here's a sample, about the "CRAZY":

[T]he headline image "CRAZY" likewise is Mr. Griffiths' commentary concerning statements made by Mr. Smith that are directly quoted in the article. As the circuit court held, "the image is within the purview of constitutional protection as an opinion[