This is off topic as far as Bankruptcy, but interesting as far as the relationship between Judges and Blogs.
One of my favorite shows was "Flip This House" on A&E Network. The show featured renovations and "flips" of houses by Richard Davis and his company, Trademark Properties, of South Carolina. After the first season, a dispute arose between Trademark and A&E, leading to a lawsuit filed in Federal Court in South Carolina that is discussed in detail in the Flip This Lawsuit Blog. It appears that Davis or others at Trademark have posted on this Blog.
As discussed in the Flip This Lawsuit Blog, at a recent hearing the Judge had plenty to say about the Blog, which apparently has no relationship or affiliation with the litigants or lawyers. Taking liberty to cut & quote the Judge’s comments –
One other thing I was not going to mention today, because I just thought it might be best to ignore it, but upon reflection, I think it’s a matter of such seriousness that I do need to mention it.
It’s been brought to my attention that there is a web blog entitled Flip This Lawsuit. I haven’t looked at that blog, I haven’t studied it to see what it says. I have been told what it says.
Now, I’ve never had this happen before, and I consider it a very, very serious matter. At first blush, it appears to me to be an attempt to influence this lawsuit in an improper way. We can’t tell what’s happening there until we draw a jury.
But at some point in time, if I’m convinced that that has been the result of such a blog, in other words, if we have jurors that come in here and they’ve read that blog, and upon reading that, they cannot give the defendants a fair trial, then that is a serious matter, and it will be considered by such as this court. And an appropriate punishment and sanctions will be handed out. I’m not sure what those will be. I think you lawyers know that if you did that, what would happen to you, you would probably be looking for another profession. So that’s how I feel about that.
Now, whether what’s going on that blog is of such a nature that it in and of itself, whether members of the public read it and act on it or not, warrants a sanction by this court, and some sort of obstruction of justice, some sort of contempt of this court, I don’t know. But it’s because of those consequences that I see fit to bring this to your attention. This is a serious matter. This is a serious court. And we will not permit its function to be undermined in such an unseemly fashion.
Now, who is responsible for that blog? I don’t know. It may be that I’ll have to ask the FBI to look into it. It may be I’ll have to ask the U.S. Attorney to get the grand jury to look into it, I don’t know. Those are things down the road. But it seems to me that the information I have certainly shows that the defendants don’t have their name on this blog and that the plaintiff does.
And I would think that good, prudent action on his part would have gotten it off of there a long time ago. And that’s all I’m going to say on that. But when we get to the end of this case at some point, we’ll look at it again and see who is responsible; what the effects are and what action we should take.
But it just felt like that it is such a serious matter and such an unthinkable thing for a litigant to do in this court, that it needed to be commented on. I mean, we are not in Boy Scout camp; we are in serious court here and we don’t do business that way. And I’m not going to permit litigants in this case to do business in that way. Okay?
It is not clear from these comments whether or not the Judge understood that the Blog was not affiliated with either party or their lawyers or representatives, but it will be interesting to see what comes of this. Assuming there is no gag order, would a party be subject to sanctions for posting on a blog, as opposed to commenting to a reporter? We’ll see….
The story does not end there, and we have an Atlanta connection. A&E replaced the Trademark Team in the second season of Flip This House with two new teams – one from Atlanta. Dale Russel, a reporter for the "I-Team" of Fox 5 Atlanta has recently done several news reports on the Atlanta team. You can link to the reports from the Fox 5 page linked above, and you can read more about it on Dale’s Blog.