Texas Couple Goes After 178 Anonymous Topix.net Posters

First A Client of His Went After Them With The False Claim of Sexual Assault.
Now They Are Going After People Who Posted Against Them During The Case. 
Debra J.M. Smith - www.InformingChristians.com


Are they misusing the court system in an attempt to learn the identities of the posters?
Or do they REALLY plan on taking ALL of those posters to court?

I am all for going after people who post true libel posts.
With that said, you be the judge. Please read on.


After Mark and Rhonda Lesher had their names cleared of charges brought against them by a female client of his in Texas, Mark and Rhonda Lesher decided to go after 178 anonymous posters online for comments that range from posts that appear to be negative opinions to quite possibly out and out libel.

I first read about this on Topix. Then I did my homework and searched out more info. My main source of information comes from an ABC article that is found online: Lawsuits Crack Open Online Anonymity. The article, which notes that Topix filed a motion to quash the subpoena, states that Chris Tolles, CEO of Topix, told ABCNews.com that the request was, "over broad and burdensome."

The ABCNews.com article also says the Leshers are convinced that if they get the chance to face their online opponents in court, they'll likely meet the people who pulled them into the courtroom in the first place, and their allies.

My Thoughts

It is not a case that we cannot say negative comments about others. It is that we have to truly believe that what we are saying is the truth, if we claim it to be the truth.

Even if we turn out to be wrong, if what we said at the time, we truly believed to be true at the time of having said it, then the courts cannot legally do a thing to us.       

The lesson to be learned here is, don't claim that something is that, which you do not really believe it to be. AKA -- Don't lie.

A Lie Is On Purpose

You can be mistaking and not be lying. But if what you say negative about another person brings harm to that other person and it can be proven that you actually knew at the time that you said it, that you were in fact lying, then you could be in trouble.         

This is with the exception of speaking-in-jest or to make-a-point. If in context that, which we say clearly should by most intelligent people, be understood as such, then it is not lying. Context is everything with speech.

There have been some very volatile people online who have made some outlandish defamatory comments about me, even about my children. I have yet to ever find it worth my time to do anything about any of it in a court of law. Thier actions always served to make them look far worse than they ever dreamed of making me look anyway.           

My thoughts about the couple is that it appears to me they should be suing the person who brought the false claim against them in the first place and using all of the posts online as proof that the person's false accusations caused the situation.          

I am not saying that they should not also sue those who said defaming comments online, but such will be hard to prove that people online did not truly believe what they said in their posts on Topix. All anyone has to say is that he/she fully believed that the charges brought against the couple in court had been true. There are people who truly believe that if a person is charged with something that he is guilty of that and more.  

It is hard to prove that someone knew he/she was lying, and the burden of proof is on the accuser.

Another Thing Or Two


If John Doe lives in Massachusetts and types something believed by Sally Sue to be liable on the internet about Sally Sue who lives in Florida and Sally Sue wants to sue John Doe, Sally Sue would most-likely have to go to Massachusetts and obtain an attorney who is licensed to practice law in Massachusetts and file suit against John Doe in Massachusetts.            

The likeliness of a judge in Massachusetts extraditing John Doe to Florida to stand trial for something over the internet is highly unlikely.  

And either way, Sally Sue would need to be ready for a counter suit if it turns out that John Doe is found to be innocent.          

Remember, one can say something bad without actually crossing the line to libel. The burden of proof to prove that John Doe was lying, which means he knew he was incorrect in a statement meant to harm Sally Sue, is on Sally Sue. All John Doe has to say is that he fully believed he was telling the truth and then be quiet from there on out. If Sally Sue cannot come up with proof of otherwise, John Doe is to be found innocent. 

What If Some Are Children

If a person is brought to court, his/her personal identifiable information is recorded into the case and at that time becomes public information and under the FOIL act could be retrieved by any U.S. citizen. Some of the posters may actually be under age, in which case(s) such could put anyone who is responsible for outing them into a situation that could meet up with legal recourse.  

Will The Real Reason Please Stand Up        

It looks to me that the couple is actually thinking that some of the people that posted on Topix may have been friends with the plaintiff in the lawsuit that had been brought against them, the suit that brought their name into the public eye in such a major way to begin with.    

The question is, "Should many people who may not have posted over-the-line libelous comments pay with their privacy being revealed because some people may have been in with the plaintiff of the other lawsuit?" Another question is, "Couldn't such bring about more lawsuits in response?"       

Could I Be Sued For This

I have to admit, I am wondering if I stand to be sued just for saying my take on this. However, I will not give up my freedom of speech when I am not doing anything wrong. But, just in case, please note that my true contact info is on my website and I use my real name and have never heard of any of these people before just a handful of hours ago. So, no, I am not “in” with anyone. I am just a born again Christian home school mom, turned right-wing Christian activist.

You see, though I do wish something could be done about true over-the-line libelous posts on the internet, I would never want it at the cost of taking away Americans' freedom of speech to say negative things that are simply their opinions that are not over-the-line libelous.           

Hence, it is a fine line that needs to be walked when trying to go after someone for his or her speech. A person has to be very careful. And I don't see subpoenaing information on 178 posters, as walking that fine line.     

Bottom line, I agree with TOPIX for filing to quash the court order on grounds that it is including too many people. Does this couple REALLY plan on going to as many states as these posters could live in to actually bring suit against each and every one of them? Or are they just trying to know who the people are? If it is the latter, then I don't believe that the courts should be used in that way.

Final Thoughts

They won a case that no doubt had to be very trying and hurtful to go through. I cannot help but think that they should have quit while they were ahead. Sometimes going after people, right or wrong, makes the person doing the action, look like the bully.

I realize that in the case brought against them, it appears to have been the other way around with a lot of people. People tend to believe a possible victim of any type of violence. There are certain ways that we people on a whole react to one situation as oppose to another. And we are no doubt a peculiar people. 

Do you think the Leshers ever stated their opinions of OJ Simpson, and do you think they were against any outlandish statements that were made against him during his trial, considering he was found innocent? I for one believe OJ was guilty. Could I get sued for saying such?

Debra J.M. Smith


© Debra J.M. Smith