January 7, 2015

INN Member Austin Bulldog Prevails Over Suit

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It's the story of a little, independent nonprofit newsroom that refused to succumb to the threat of legal action. And the Investigative News Network is proud have been there to help.

This week, a Texas district court judge dismissed and sanctioned a local politician in his lawsuit against the Austin Bulldog, the nonprofit announced on its website.

Judge Amy Clark Meachum of the 201st District Court approved an anti-SLAPP motion filed by the Bulldog's attorneys, essentially striking down the defamation lawsuit brought on by councilman Don Zimmerman of the city of Austin, Texas.

Almost as soon as Zimmerman filed the suit against the Austin Bulldog in October, INN stepped in to provide some help from its legal emergency fund. The fund helped pay part of the Bulldog's attorney fees.

According to the Bulldog, the ruling "reinforces the right to publish a fair, true and impartial account of a judicial proceeding ... Such reporting is privileged and is not a ground for a libel action."

The judge reportedly is also awarding the Austin Investigative Reporting Project (aka the Austin Bulldog) $8,400 in attorney’s fees "plus court costs and other expenses of $579, and a sanction of $1,000."

The Austin Bulldog adds "Zimmerman has 30 days to file an appeal after the court order based on the ruling is filed of record with the district clerk."