Beck Wants Defamation Suit Dismissed

Attorneys for Glenn Beck have filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed against him by Abdulrahman Alharbi, the young Saudi student who was called the “money man” for the Tsarnaev brothers after the Boston Marathon bombing by Beck even after the FBI had concluded that he was completely innocent. Their argument is absurd:

Attorneys for Beck and his media company, The Blaze Inc, argued that by granting interviews to media outlets after being cleared of suspicion by federal officials, Alharbi made himself a “limited purpose public figure” subject to higher levels of scrutiny than a private citizen.

“The fact that Mr. Alharbi said what he said and availed himself of the opportunity to inject himself into this controversy in an attempt to shape the debate is not a fact that can be denied,” attorney Michael Grygiel said during a hearing at U.S. District Court in Boston.

So the fact that he defended himself against the false accusations Beck was making means Beck could not have defamed him. Seriously, that’s as dumb a legal argument as I’ve ever heard.

Alharbi’s attorney, Peter Haley, said that Beck showed malice by continuing to claim the Saudi exchange student was responsible for the attacks even after he was cleared.

“All of the statements that we’re focused on come after the point of exoneration,” Haley said. “They’re statements Mr. Beck has reason to know are false … he continues to make them with reckless disregard to truth or falsity.”

Exactly right. Alharbi cooperated with the FBI, gave them his online passwords and let them search his apartment. They quickly exonerated him. But after that exoneration, Beck accused the FBI of lying, continually repeated his accusation that the guy was a terrorist and said that if the Obama administration didn’t come clean about the whole thing, he was going to reveal the evidence he had. Of course, he had no evidence at all. He was simply lying and he never revealed a thing.

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  • raven

    IMO, Beck is eventually going to settle out of court for a lot of money. Or lose in court for a lot of money.

  • rationalinks

    One can only hope that Glenny gets more than just a slap on the wrist for this. Of course you know the rethugs will be crying foul claiming that activists judges are trying to kill freeze peach.

  • Chiroptera

    I suspect the courts are prejudiced against Beck. Better to move the case to a different venue. Maybe one of Klayman’s Citizen Grand Juries or something.

  • http://healthvsmedicine.blogspot.com cervantes

    I don’t get these clowns who claim they have secret evidence that they will reveal in due course. Viz. Donald Trump and the Kenyan birth, that forgotten wackjob who was going to reveal the “whitey” tape. They know they don’t actually have it so what on earth are they trying to accomplish?

  • shadowwalkyr

    Is it just me, or does this sound like a reality show?

    Next up on Glenn Beck’s Lawsuits:

    Lawyers claim that because Alharbi is suing Beck, he must be guilty!

    But first, 16,296 words from our sponsors, WeBuyGoldAtOneTenthofOnePercentValue.scam & ExpiredSurvivalSupplies.hoax.

  • John Pieret

    Not only is the argument dumb on its face, it’s irrelevant.

    Alharbi’s attorney, Peter Haley, said that Beck showed malice by continuing to claim the Saudi exchange student was responsible for the attacks even after he was cleared.

    All Alharbi has to show is that Beck kept saying it after the FBI cleared him and that will constitute evidence of, at least, “reckless disregard for the truth” which gets him over the hump of a summary judgment motion and to a jury. Once in front of a jury, Beck will have to show credible evidence that he had at the time that Alharbi was a terrorist, which you know ain’t gonna happen.

    This motion is just a little test of the judicial waters before Beck starts filling out a sizable check in Mr. Alharbi’s name.

  • Childermass

    So if say I said that Glenn Beck raped and murdered a girl in 1990, that would make him an even bigger public figure which would make him subject to higher scrutiny, and thus I did not defame him?

    Or maybe it would be an outrage that Glenn Beck was accused of something he did not do which would require legal action? And that it was, unlike Beck’s accusation, an obvious parody is irrelevant?

    /For the sake of the lawyers: I am NOT saying that Glenn Beck killed anyone.

  • dugglebogey

    This argument is the exact same thing as saying “that person assaulted me when I was punching him and he tried to defend himself. By blocking my fists with his arms, he made himself an attacker.”

  • Alverant

    I hope this does go to court or if he settles there is an admission of wrongdoing. Beck has to admit he was wrong or else he’s going to say he is being targeted and use this as proof of his persecution claims.

  • Phillip IV

    Yeah, that’s a pretty brilliant line of argument: Before the FBI cleared Alharbi, Beck didn’t definitely know he wasn’t a terrorist, so wasn’t acting maliciously – and by clearing him the FBI made him a public person, so from then on Beck could rightfully continue to make allegations he knew to be wrong. It’s a perfect Catch 22, just that I’m pretty sure no court is going to buy it – so, yeah, this is probably headed for out-of-court settlement, and they’re just making arguments for the sake of making them.

  • http://drx.typepad.com Dr X

    Never going to happen because Beck will settle, but it would be fun to see him on the stand, weeping, of course.

  • http://cycleninja.blogspot.com cycleninja

    I’d love to hear how his lawyers talk about Beck when he’s not around.

    “Can you believe the nerve of this guy?”

    “No, but we get paid, regardless.”

  • Chiroptera

    If all else fails, bring up “subornation of false muster”!

  • AMM

    dugglebogey @8:

    This argument is the exact same thing as saying “that person assaulted me when I was punching him and he tried to defend himself. By blocking my fists with his arms, he made himself an attacker.”

    Hey, it worked for George Zimmerman.

  • rabbitscribe

    BE CAREFUL! Beck’s team is led by one of the most effective media law specialists in the country. I do not believe he’d accept a case he believed to be meritless and risk a judgment for fees and possibly sanctions. I don’t know who is actually preparing the plaintiff’s filings, but his counsel of record doesn’t appear to have any relevant experience. We have very robust free speech protections. This is one downside. The judge isn’t concerned with how grossly unfair the situation is (or at least shouldn’t be), just with the law. To be sure, defendants have a very daunting task ahead of them… but sometimes daunting tasks get accomplished. I would advise not getting overinvested in this affair.

  • http://drx.typepad.com Dr X

    @15:

    I do not believe he’d accept a case he believed to be meritless and risk a judgment for fees and possibly sanctions.

    You seem to be confusing plaintiff and defendent in your comment. Beck is the defendant. The best lawyers often take cases that are tough to defend, suits that have a great deal of merit, which is bad for their wealthy clients and the reason their clients need the best lawyers. There are no fees or sanctions for agreeing to defend someone in a suit, meritless or not. If there’s an issue of merit, it applies to the party bringing the suit.

  • Al Dente

    Chiroptera @13

    If all else fails, bring up “subornation of false muster”!

    Doesn’t that only work if there’s a yellow fringe on the national flag?

  • jnorris

    It sounds like Mr Beck is using the old “stand your verbal ground” defense.

  • Sastra

    But after that exoneration, Beck accused the FBI of lying, continually repeated his accusation that the guy was a terrorist and said that if the Obama administration didn’t come clean about the whole thing, he was going to reveal the evidence he had. Of course, he had no evidence at all. He was simply lying and he never revealed a thing.

    Lying? Well, I don’t know about that. Remember, this is Glen Beck. It’s perfectly possible that he sincerely and innocently believed what the voices in his head were telling him.

  • cptdoom

    Well the good news is, regardless of the suit’s outcome, we have ample evidence to justify calling Beck a worthless liar.

  • rabbitscribe

    “You seem to be confusing plaintiff and defendent in your comment. Beck is the defendant.”

    Yes, and his lawyer is exceptional, and exceptionally experienced. The plaintiff’s lawyer is not, but hopefully may be receiving assistance from someone(s) who are.

    “The best lawyers often take cases that are tough to defend, suits that have a great deal of merit, which is bad for their wealthy clients and the reason their clients need the best lawyers. ”

    Suits don’t have merits, theories do.

    “There are no fees or sanctions for agreeing to defend someone in a suit, meritless or not.”

    Of course not. But you can’t offer any argument you want.

    “If there’s an issue of merit, it applies to the party bringing the suit.”

    That’s absolutely incorrect. Google “Rule 11.” That applies to defendants’ counsels. Let’s say Arab kid had just stood there and waited to be interrogated, cooperated fully, been exonerated, and never participated in interviews. Can Beck’s lawyer argue he’s a limited-purpose public figure because he didn’t remain quietly in his home that day? No, absolutely not. There is no legal foundation to that theory. Plaintiff would be awarded fees and defendant’s counsel would be sanctioned. People seem to think the theory that he became a LPPF when he gave the interviews is just as bad. I’m only pointing out that a very sharp guy with some skin in the game disagrees. I, too, hope he’s wrong. We’ll see.

  • rabbitscribe

    Heh. In the 1980’s, in Elgin, Illinois, there was a petty bureaucrat so petty he wasn’t even compensated for his services (and given their value, he was overpaid). He unilaterally decreed that a business would be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring itself into compliance with what he wished the city code was. They filed for an injunction and got it. The bureaucrat told a newspaper that that sort of thing wasn’t within the judge’s purview, then showed up with a lock and chain. The judge ordered a show cause hearing and issued a bench warrant.

    The bureaucrat retained a young rabbitscribe’s employer, who advised him to apologize, undertake not to repeat that course of action, and hope for the best. They walked into the courtroom… and wham, my employer was sanctioned $500.00 for filing an appearance. She had not yet opened her mouth. The judge stated that the bureaucrat was there to purge his contempt, period, end of conversation. Counsel could not possibly have anything meritorious to argue and had no business in the courtroom. That’s obviously pretty extreme, and of course contempt hearings are very different from civil proceedings. But sanctions are for a whole lot more than filing a frivolous lawsuit.