"Just who do they think they are!!!"
That, spoken by my mother with such incredulous disdain so atypical of this mild, gentle woman, it sounded like cursing.
"Nexus," I replied unnecessarily. " The Omnipotent."
NEXUS - "A $40M+, 720 employee, not for profit behavioral health agency with operating locations in Minnesota, and Illinois." (1) It's the corporation that conspired with the Onamia city council to use our tax dollars to build a state of the art juvenile sex offender treatment center in our residential neighborhood (2) next to daycare, families with children, and elderly widows (including my mom). They are the company that sued me for reporting to the city council during a tax abatement hearing that a child died while in their care at Gerard of Iowa in Mason City back in 2001. That's right. Its CEO Jim D'Angelo also sued me for disparaging comments I made about him on this very blog. (I stand by what I wrote.) To strengthen D'Angelo's complaint, board member Peter D. Freeman jumped on the bandwagon, suing me for emailing the Dean of Social Work at St. Thomas University, asking her for assistance to convince Freeman to find a different, appropriate location - one that wouldn't jeopardize our safety, lower our property values, and make our homes impossible to sell. Peter sued me for embarrassment.
The battle to save the neighborhood began in April 2007. The lawsuits soon followed. For the last three years I've been trapped within the "Justice" System, fighting for an obsolete concept - Freedom of Speech. You might remember it as a "constitutional right" promised to us back in grade school, when we still believed we had rights in this country. Trust me... Free Speech is only allowed if you say what They want to have said. Color outside of Their lines and you'll find out how free you are...
With their Park Avenue lawyer Victor Lund, Jim D'Angelo, Peter Freeman, and the Nexus corporation sued me into a corner with no way out. If I didn't respond to their lawsuits, I would lose automatically by default and have to pay them all an undisclosed amount of money in "damages" (yet to be determined) (3.) As to why they took such drastic action of bringing two lawsuits against me, D'Angelo explained, "We thought you'd go away!" Of course, at the same time, they made it impossible for me to "go away". Part of their demands included that I confessed that what I said about them wasn't true and admit that I defamed them. Since everything I wrote was either the truth or my constitutinally protected opinion, to say that I sat at my computer making things up because I thought it was funny (4.) would be a lie. I am not a liar. Former Nexus CEO Jim D'Angelo is.
For example, while under oath D'Angelo denied that he ever said, "We thought you'd go away." (5.) I'm not a lawyer, but to my layman's understanding, lying under oath is called "perjury". Suing opposing citizen activists who are seeking to procure government action favorable to their cause is an abuse of the Justice System and goes against the Minnesota Anti-SLAPP law. SLAPP is an acronym for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. If D'Angelo admitted to making the statement, he'd have admitted that he used the lawsuit for the purpose of intimidating me into complying with his demands. (Apparently, he thinks he is the Boss of me!) I don't call these "frivolous" lawsuits. I call them "harassment" lawsuits. A SLAPP waged against me for trying to keep Nexus' sex offenders away from day care and vulnerable people like my mom.
In Freeman/D'Angelo, Judge Marilyn Rosenbaum of the 4th District Court ruled against my Motion to Dismiss under the MN Anti-SLAPP law, citing her disbelief that I used the Internet to actually try to influence the government. Judge Terri Stoneburner affirmed Rosenbaum, citing "overwhelming evidence" against me. Plaintiff's had no evidence except Victor Lund's testimony that I was a "gadfly" who was bored and liked to stir up trouble at City Hall. Stoneburner was appalled that I sat at my computer making things up - like when she said that I said D'Angelo sent me death threats. Of course, I never said that D'Angelo sent me the death threats. Victor Lund said I said it. I was judged on Victor Lund's testimony. Victor Lund did not tell the truth. Winning the case superseded the Truth. Throughout the Motion to Dismiss hearings in my Freedom of Speech case, I was not allowed to speak.
In the Nexus lawsuit, Judge John Sommerville also ruled against me because he questioned the constitutionality of the Anti-SLAPP law itself, afraid that it would deny Nexus their Due Process. He indicated that Nexus had a right to their "day in court", which was ironic - because Sommerville denied me the same right. I had no day in court. I had only a day in chambers. He called us into his back room - without a court reporter present. He chatted with the lawyers. My lawyer was not allowed to make his presentation (my defense). I was again not allowed to speak. And after their casual chit-chat, Sommerville ruled against the Anti-SLAPP law and therefore, he ruled against me.
Minnesota Court of Appeals Judge Connolly ruled that the MN Anti-SLAPP law is constitutional and that the First Amendment applies to the Internet. He remanded my case back to District Court - which means that I won. However, whereas he instructed Sommerville to perform a do-over and get things right this time, Sommerville just scheduled me to go to trial in September 2011.
Defamation is not a crime. It is a civil matter.
The Freeman/D'Angelo trial was scheduled for December 28, 2010. For three years Plaintiffs stressed their right to force me to face a jury for the uncomplimentary words I'd written about them on this blog and in the Mille Lacs News. They used a jury trial as a threat. However, in the Eleventh Hour - a month before the trial, they waived their jury. Now they didn't want Hannabelle facing any jury. They wanted Judge Rosenbaum to make the decision. Since it was Rosenbaum who previously ruled against me, stating "the Anti-SLAPP law is meant to be used as a shield, not as a sword", as if I was the one who manipulated laws for my own purpose... I demanded a jury.
Just days before my trial, Jim D'Angelo and Peter Freeman withdrew their lawsuit. They never had a case against me and they admitted they could not prove any damages.
Now, before my enemies get depressed and my Dear Readers break into song at my victory, listen to this: Now, having dropped the lawsuits, they're going for an injunction to control my speech. I'll be speeching quite a bit on this subject - at least for the next week until the judge tries to shut me up or even shuts me down. D'Angelo and Freeman again got what they wanted (don't they always?) They got an injunction hearing - which amounts to a trial WITHOUT jury.
(1.) from D'Angelo's website; D'Angelo Consulting
(2.) MN Stat. 462.357
(3.) Summons and Complaints
(4.) Victor Lund testified to this false charge as "fact" at every hearing.
(5.) D'Angelo Affidavit; Defendant's Interrogatories