Advertisement

LJWorld.com weblogs Faith Files

$2.9 million award in Fred Phelps suit

Advertisement

This from the Associated Press wire this afternoon:BALTIMORE (AP) - A federal jury on Wednesday awarded the father of a fallen Marine $2.9 million in compensatory damages after finding an anti-gay Kansas church and three of its leaders liable for invasion of privacy and intent to inflict emotional distress for picketing the Marine's funeral in 2006.The jury was to begin deliberating the size of punitive damages after receiving further instructions, although U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett noted the size of the compensatory award "far exceeds the net worth of the defendants," according to financial statements filed with the court.Albert Snyder of York, Pa., sued the Westboro Baptist Church for unspecified monetary damages after members staged a demonstration at the March 2006 funeral of his son, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq.Church members routinely picket funerals of military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, carrying signs such as "Thank God for dead soldiers" and "God hates fags."A number of states have passed laws regarding funeral protests, and Congress has passed a law prohibiting such protests at federal cemeteries, but the Maryland lawsuit is believed to be the first filed by the family of a fallen serviceman.Snyder's suit named the church, its founder the Rev. Fred Phelps and his two daughters Shirley Phelps-Roper and Rebecca Phelps-Davis, 46. The jury began deliberating Tuesday after two days of testimony.The York, Pa. man claimed the protests intruded upon what should have been a private ceremony and sullied his memory of the event.The church members testified they are following their religious beliefs by spreading the message that the deaths of soldiers are due to the nation's tolerance of homosexuality.Their attorneys argued in closing statements Tuesday that the burial was a public event and that even abhorrent points of view are protected by the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech and religion.The judge said the church's financial statements, sealed earlier, could be released to the plaintiffs.Earlier, church members staged a demonstration outside the federal courthouse, which is located on a busy thoroughfare a few blocks west of Baltimore's Inner Harbor, while passing motorists honked and shouted insults.Church founder Fred Phelps held a sign reading "God is your enemy," while his daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper stood on an American flag while carrying a sign that read "God hates fag enablers." Members of the group sang "God Hates America,"' to the tune of "God Bless America."Snyder sobbed when he heard the verdict while members of the church greeted the news with tightlipped smiles._ - Faith Files, which examines issues of faith, spirituality, morals and ethics, is updated by features/faith reporter Terry Rombeck. Have an idea for the blog? Contact Terry at trombeck@ljworld.com, or 832-7145._

Comments

TweakinTopekan 6 years, 5 months ago

none2 (Anonymous) says:

Frankly, I think the government should go even further. Churches (of any religion or denomination) should loose their tax exempt status when their primary purpose is political. Westboro would be a prime candidate. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I agree! It is a big part of certain types of tax-exempt orgs that they NOT support any specific candidate or legislation. The problem in this case is that the Phelps have always hop-scotched between what is "Church mission" and "Personal involvement". (Like Phelps long-time support and help for Al Gore) So its like nailing jello to a wall in that respect.

After years of protection from certain taxes (By a County Treasurer that Phelps helped get into her position) the county finally came down on Phelps and taxed him for a truck that had previously been tax-exempt (Written off) as a "church vehical".

But I think that now, with this lawsuit, there might be some "Wiggle room" that could cause the church to lose its status because it was being used to break the law.

If we remember: The last couple of election rounds, several pastures of large churches got into hot water because they told their congregation that anyone who didnt vote for Bush would be kicked out of the church.

0

Amy Heeter 6 years, 5 months ago

I agree with that Churches are private entities and should be taxed like everyone else. I know many churches help the needy and support causes but they can deduct those things just like everyone else does. The reason churches do not like the idea of giving up tax exmpt staus is because they get alot of donations too; those ins and outs would take some amount of creative book keeping and they may not come out so well in the end. Especially for those churches who have minimum tithe standards. I found this great old bible at a tag sale some years ago it was printed pre copyright era. There is a section that outlines the net worth( at that time) of exixting denominations. The dollar amiounts were amazing especially considering the time period.

0

none2 6 years, 5 months ago

artichokeheart (Anonymous) says:

"Yes I was, but some people are so touchy these days. I do however feel like this suit has openned a can-o-worms. No doubt what Fred and his bunch do is more than a little distastful, but so are all those abortion protesters on both sides. Once I found myself in the middle of a war protest between conservatives and liberals that seemed like the beginnings of a full blown riot to me.( It had been scheduled as a candlelight vigil) Bottom line is there will always be Freds in the world to tolerate..."

I don't understand why some people are against this decision. Free Speech has always had limits. If Anti-War, Pro-War, Anti-Abortion, Pro-Abortion people started picketing funerals they would be just as vile as many people feel about Fred's protests.

Frankly, I think the government should go even further. Churches (of any religion or denomination) should loose their tax exempt status when their primary purpose is political. Westboro would be a prime candidate.

0

Amy Heeter 6 years, 5 months ago

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III (Anonymous) says:

Methinks artichokeheart is being facetious.

Yes I was, but some people are so touchy these days. I do however feel like this suit has openned a can-o-worms. No doubt what Fred and his bunch do is more than a little distastful, but so are all those abortion protesters on both sides. Once I found myself in the middle of a war protest between conservatives and liberals that seemed like the beginnings of a full blown riot to me.( It had been scheduled as a candlelight vigil) Bottom line is there will always be Freds in the world to tolerate. I don't much care for peas but partake of fresh snow peas from time to time if they are prepared the right way:)

0

Kontum1972 6 years, 5 months ago

hmmm..wonder how dick cheney feels about all of this...?

0

Amy Heeter 6 years, 5 months ago

That would be a crime. You are a loser.

0

p95151 6 years, 5 months ago

Since it's a matter of public record, anyone feel like having a little fun at Freddy's house at 3600 SW Holly Lane in Topeka? Maybe picket his ignorant, hateful self? Or we can all have a little fun at his church at 3701 SW 12th St in Topeka! Come on, all! What do you say? Give him a little taste of his own medicine???

For the record, the Shawnee County public access site is: http://www.co.shawnee.ks.us/Ap/R_prop/Disclaimer.shtm

Look him up yourselves! Let's play!!!

0

fetch 6 years, 5 months ago

And did any of the naughty posters here make a trip to Topeka for a little nefarious activity? http://www.cjonline.com/stories/110207/loc_214323888.shtml

0

fetch 6 years, 5 months ago

Peas? No chance, no way. I still want my strawberry torts.

0

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 6 years, 5 months ago

Methinks artichokeheart is being facetious. "Give peas a chance for christ sakes." This is not exactly the prayer of a devout Christian. And I continue to believe that the only benefit of this lawsuit will be the discovery process surrounding efforts to assess the Phelps' financial support.

It may also preoccupy them somewhat if they're kept busy defending themselves, but a trip somewhere to attend a deposition can also be used to throw a protest afterwards.

0

Chris Golledge 6 years, 5 months ago

So, the appeal of this lawsuit is taking the slant of freedom of speech and religion. Worthy arguments, but, since funerals generally involve religion, I'm wondering about the rights of the family having the funeral to practice their religion without interference. The legal system shouldn't interfere with people practicing their religion, but where religious beliefs collide, I would think the legal system should be able offer some protection to those attempting to practice theirs in peace.

0

Anise 6 years, 5 months ago

Not all of us are Christians, artichoke.

And I love peas. I'd give them a chance any day. Especially when combined with carrots in a butter garlic sauce.

0

Amy Heeter 6 years, 5 months ago

All of you are filled with hate, but you justify it by grouping yourselves with the milieu. Instead of admonishing Fred we should all offer loving forgiveness no matter what is said or done. All the Father did in this case is throw gas on a burning fire. I like the way so many of you call yourselves Christians yet you nit pick every little detail. Me I'm a sinner; a horrible sinner but at least I have enough compassion to know Fred and his have been wounded and misguided. Give peas a chance for christ sakes.

0

Eride 6 years, 5 months ago

:"You just don't have a clue."

Yes, I am the one without a clue yet you are the one citing cases that have nothing to do with the issue you are debating. Not only that, you don't even explain your position when citing a case. You just cite it, which either implies you don't understand what you are reading or you are just not reading it.

The one lacking a "clue" is you.

0

4th_grade_education 6 years, 5 months ago

You just don't have a clue. Anyway, you don't have to take my word for it:

http://www.cjonline.com/stories/110107/loc_213976417.shtml

0

4th_grade_education 6 years, 5 months ago

"This case deals with a parody of a public figure which is about as dissimilar as can be to a group of strangers shouting abusive phrases and holding hurtful signs right next to a funeral party."

You're right. In Hustler v. Falwell, the ad was targeting a specific individual, whereas the protests are targeting no one in particular. The Phelps' have an even stronger case than Hustler did.

"shouting abusive phrases and holding hurtful signs" Sounds like viewpoint discrimination to me.

0

4th_grade_education 6 years, 5 months ago

"And if you bother actually reading the Restatement of Torts 2nd Edition you will be able to see the standard for meeting a claim of IIED which the Phelps case meets by overwhelming bounds."

Yes, I am not disputing that all the elements of an IIED claim are there. They were also there in Hustler v. Falwell. Nevertheless, the Court overturned it on the basis of the First Amendment.

0

Eride 6 years, 5 months ago

"Or, if you really need help tracing the history of case law:

Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell"

The facts of this case also have no linkage to the Phelps case. This case deals with a parody of a public figure which is about as dissimilar as can be to a group of strangers shouting abusive phrases and holding hurtful signs right next to a funeral party. Just because the Supreme Court found that Hustler publishing a parody of Jerry Falwell did not meet the standards required to recover damages doesn't remotely suggest that there is a 1st amendment protection for Phelps actions.

And if you bother actually reading the Restatement of Torts 2nd Edition you will be able to see the standard for meeting a claim of IIED which the Phelps case meets by overwhelming bounds. The Supreme Court issues a writ of certiorari usually for cases that has the national case law divided or an issue of special importance. The case law throughout the US is almost uniform at the standard to meet an IIED claim, there is absolutely no reason why the Supreme Court would issue a writ to hear the case.

0

4th_grade_education 6 years, 5 months ago

"I would suggest taking some law general law classes, it is good information to have."

You should try that yourself first.

"The main outcome of that case was the setting of the actual malice standard, specifically when dealing with the issue of defamation, which has continued to be used ever since."

Where do you think the actual malice standard came from? The Court applied the 1st Amendment.

"And last I checked, not only did the Supreme Court not grant a 1st amendment free ride in this case decision (only restrict the standard under which a publication qualified as defamation, the case also deals with defamation: NOT extreme emotional distress."

Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell was an extension of the doctrine laid out in New York Times v. Sullivan extending Constitutional protection to IIED cases.

"That was not the end result of that case and in no form did that case set a precedent for setting a 1st amendment protection against defamation."

No one ever said that it extended 1st Amendment protection to every instance of defamation, but it sure as hell carved out a big exception.

Before you post again, try to think about whether you actually know anything about the law, or if you are just blathering on with some nonsense that some one told you one time. Any 1st year law student would tell you the same thing that I'm saying.

0

Eride 6 years, 5 months ago

"Is defamation a tort? yes Did New York Times v. Sullivan declare that there was Constitutional protection for defamation? yes"

Ah and here is the problem with your reasoning and why it is so obvious you lack any legal education. That was not the end result of that case and in no form did that case set a precedent for setting a 1st amendment protection against defamation. If that were true the tort of defamation would no longer exist as the Supreme Courts rulings are binding precedent across the entire nation. There were very specific facts in that case that lead the court to rule as it did, facts that have nothing to do with the Phelps case. The main outcome of that case was the setting of the actual malice standard, specifically when dealing with the issue of defamation, which has continued to be used ever since. And last I checked, not only did the Supreme Court not grant a 1st amendment free ride in this case decision (only restrict the standard under which a publication qualified as defamation, the case also deals with defamation... NOT extreme emotional distress. So you aren't even citing a decision that is remotely relevant to the discussion... yet again!

Once again, at least bother to read the cases you cite.

I would suggest taking some law general law classes, it is good information to have.

0

oldgoof 6 years, 5 months ago

I prefer strawberry torts, myself.

0

4th_grade_education 6 years, 5 months ago

Or, if you really need help tracing the history of case law:

Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell

0

4th_grade_education 6 years, 5 months ago

Is defamation a tort? yes Did New York Times v. Sullivan declare that there was Constitutional protection for defamation? yes

Did you say, "You can not use the 1st amendment as a shield for tortious liability."? yes

Once again, 'nuff said.

0

Eride 6 years, 5 months ago

If you would even bother reading the decisions of the cases you keep citing you would realize how laughable your position is.

0

Eride 6 years, 5 months ago

4th_grade_education (Anonymous) says:

""You can not use the 1st amendment as a shield for tortious liability."

New York Times v. Sullivan.

'nuff said."

Yes, "nuff said"

You obviously have little knowledge of the law, that is yet another case that has no relation to the one in this article. You can't just copy paste a case dealing with the 1st amendment and state it is applicable to the case in point.

Once again, I agree, "nuff said"

0

4th_grade_education 6 years, 5 months ago

Stream:

Yes, those are the standard elements for IIED.

"This is a case of purely political speech - the closest thing to a pure First Amendment claim."

I believe you were referring to the Skokie case. The Phelps' speech may also be pure political speech. Therefore, this point is moot.

"This was not a case where a person was damaged by the intentional acts of another person, and sued on those facts; this was a case where the municipality tried to prevent the ANP from exercising its FIrst Amendment rights, perhaps anticipating that the large numbers of concentration camp survivors living in Skokie might suffer severe emotional distress from the event."

The Klan was purposefully going to march through a 95% Jewish neighborhood where holocaust survivors resided. The Klan was going to wear Nazi uniforms for this parade. You don't think that's an intentional act designed to cause emotional distress?

"this was a case where the municipality tried to prevent the ANP from exercising its FIrst Amendment rights"

True, that is a difference here being that there is a state actor. Nevertheless, a state law finding allowing for IIED to be found while hampering 1st Amendment freedoms will be grounds for appeal. My point in the beginning was, and still is, this verdict is giving the Phelps' exactly what they want: the chance to appeal to the Supreme Court.

None of you can say for certain that it won't make it there. I'm not saying it will make it there. All that any of us know is that now they have a chance given the adverse verdict. And if you don't agree with that, you have no idea how the legal system in this country works.

You get an adverse verdict -> you may appeal that verdict. It's that simple.

Whether the Supreme Court will ever look at it is pure speculation. I'm just saying they have looked at similar cases in the past, and they can choose to do whatever they want. Given this, the Phelps now have a chance to get the Supreme Court to hear the case.

0

4th_grade_education 6 years, 5 months ago

"You can not use the 1st amendment as a shield for tortious liability."

New York Times v. Sullivan.

'nuff said.

0

justvisiting85 6 years, 5 months ago

I want to say something about those who are putting the idea out that what if this were a non-hate group (environmental, anti-war, etc...). The result of this is not that you don't the right to protest and it is not against free speech. This is ruling about inflicting pain and distress on another human being. The Fred clan was not on trial for their message (I hate haters for making me hate them), but their method and the harm they inflict by how they project their message. They are inflammatory, insulting, invading and they will do anything to anyone to get a bigger stage.

This may well seem to them on the surface an opportunity, but I hope this sets a precedent for other family members of lost loved ones who have been picketed by these insensitive and disrepectful demons. They revel in others pain and use it as a tool to get more attention. They've been doing for years, decades and that is a long line of families who deserve retribution (not revenge though they deserve that too) for what the 'clan' done.

What I most look forward to is the day he kicks it, and I'd show up just to see and support the protest at his funeral. Don't forget to wear sunglasses and unidentifiable clothes, they bring camaras everywhere they go.

0

thebigspoon 6 years, 5 months ago

All praise to God! And, in this case.......... ALL POWER TO THE COURTS!!

0

Fishman 6 years, 5 months ago

Hmmm... I'm glad to see someone stand up to Fred for sure. He will get more publicity out of it for sure. The guy is a nutjob to the nth degree, everyone knows that. I'm just sorry the guy has to be from TOpeka, but at least it's better than being from Lawrence. As far as the financials are concerned, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure they are either lying or put their money in someone elses name. The kids are who I feel really sorry for. Imagine if they turn out gay how their life will be. I remember seeing two of Fred's kids in the papers that live elsewhere now because they don't agree with him. They've lost a dad as they don't talk with him because Fred doesn't like that they don't agree with him. I still say it's amazing that Fred hasn't taken a bullet from somebody he's offended yet. I find it that amazing with the pain he inflicts in God's name. I'm sure there's a few that have thought about it though. I'm glad they've realized that a low life like Fred isn't worth it. Take that court decision in the you know where Fred. LOL

0

Eride 6 years, 5 months ago

4th_grade_education said: "Eride: "You cannot cause others extreme emotional distress and then shield yourself behind the 1st amendment and I doubt there are many people in the world who wouldn't agree that Phelps conduct caused the plaintiff in this case extreme emotional distress."

Uhh.. See: National Socialist Party v. Skokie, 432 U.S. 43 (1977). (per curiam) Go ahead and Shepardize that for the whole story. But you'll see that you are exactly wrong as stated by a unanimous opinion by the US Supreme Court."

That case is not remotely relevant to this case and no offense but looking at established case law YOU are wrong. You can not use the 1st amendment as a shield for tortious liability. That is the most asinine statement in this entire thread.

0

ksdivakat 6 years, 5 months ago

I hope that exactly that happens.....every family that he has protested the funerals will all file lawsuits for the same thing, and that will be the demise of the phelps clan. The other thing that will be interesting to see play out is what will happen if they are caught hiding their assets, which they are, and OJ got away with it for 10 years, but whats done in the dark ALWAYS comes to light, and now those same people who "hid" OJ's money in off shore accounts are now turning and testifying against him as to what their roles were in hiding his money from the goldmans. This to will happen to the inbred plelps clan, they may hide it, but it will only be for a time that they can do that until they are busted. God Bless the Snyder family and I hope they do actually get the money, but more so thank them that they had the kahonas to take on the phelps clan in court!!!!

0

Crossfire 6 years, 5 months ago

The Fred's just got b-slapped. This only a good start.

Now would be the time for every past target of the Fred's hate crimes to file a damage claim.

Looks like 1400 past protests multiplied by $11 million. Maybe $15 billion and change.

Hey Fred's. "What the Hell is wrong with you"

0

someoneelse 6 years, 5 months ago

My guess is Stream47 is half right. It is not likely that the finding of the court will not be overturned, since it is a civil court. As an example, if I remember correctly, O.J. Simpson's 'wrongful death' verdict was not even eligible for appeal. If there were a circumstance such as jury tampering, that would change things.

However, the judgement will be appealed and, I fear, reduced. One thing that is usually taken into account is the ability to pay. For instance, McDonalds might be held to a multi-million dollar judgement because their coffee was too hot. Al's Diner, however, would not be, because that would put Alice out of a job.

Disclaimer: I am not an attorney, but I did stay at the Virginia Inn one night.....a long, long time ago.

0

stream47 6 years, 5 months ago

Note that all four criteria are factual in nature: (1) intentional or reckless (2) extreme and outrageous (3) causal connection between conduct and distress (4) distress must be severe

So these are reserved for the judgment of the jury, which is the finder of fact. I doubt that the Phelps' will be able to overturn the jury verdict, which was based on a common law cause of action. More probable is that they will try to reverse the damage award, or cut it to the minimum. I doubt they will be successful in this...

Also note that the case law cited above is binding on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, whose jurisdiction includes the State of Maryland.

0

stream47 6 years, 5 months ago

4th_grade_education: National Socialist Party v. Skokie, 432 U.S. 43 (1977) isn't apposite to the present case - that was a case of a parade permit being denied: " The Illinois Supreme Court denied a stay of the trial court's injunction prohibiting petitioners from marching, walking, or parading in the uniform of the National Socialist Party of America or otherwise displaying the swastika, and from distributing pamphlets or displaying materials inciting or promoting hatred against Jews or persons of any faith, ancestry, or race, and also denied leave for an expedited appeal. Held:

  1. The Illinois Supreme Court's order is a final judgment for purposes of this Court's jurisdiction, since it finally determined the merits of petitioners' claim that the injunction will deprive them of First Amendment rights during the period of appellate review.

  2. The State must allow a stay where procedural safeguards, including immediate appellate review, are not provided, and the Illinois Supreme Court's order denied this right.

Certiorari granted; reversed and remanded."

This is a case of purely political speech - the closest thing to a pure First Amendment claim. SCOTUS kicked the case back to the Illinois SC and told them to issue a stay of the trial court's injunction against the ANP. The ANP is a political party with a broadly based platform that is offensive not only to Jews, but to Catholics and many other groups and individuals. This was not a case where a person was damaged by the intentional acts of another person, and sued on those facts; this was a case where the municipality tried to prevent the ANP from exercising its FIrst Amendment rights, perhaps anticipating that the large numbers of concentration camp survivors living in Skokie might suffer severe emotional distress from the event.

Similarly, laws which prohibit Fred Phelps and his ilk from protesting at funerals and the like are anticipatory in nature and are usually found to be violations of the First Amendment; however, they can be held responsible for damages caused as a result of their intentional acts.

Fourth Circuit case law underlines this: "The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has held that "there are four elements to a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress: (1) the conduct must be intentional or reckless, (2) the conduct must be extreme and outrageous, (3) a causal connection must exist between the wrongful conduct and the emotional distress, and (4) the emotional distress must be severe." Gantt v. Security USA, Inc., 356 F.3d 547 (4th Cir. 2004), where the court applies Maryland law.

0

dichloromethane 6 years, 5 months ago

how come all the members of the westboro church all have phelps in their name? they are one messed up family!

0

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 6 years, 5 months ago

Once you have a judgment against someone, I suspect appeal, or not, I believe there is a process which allows the plaintiff to discover defendants' financial resources. That process has already started with the judge having opened the financial records currently submitted to the court.

If there are any false statements in there, or if they attempt to deceive the court as to their assets, they may be held in contempt of court, with jail time to serve. I also believe that contempt of court is a pretty hard thing to dodge, so even if they have assets that are immune from being attached by the plaintiff, those resources, and possibly the source of those resources may become a part of the public record if the Phelps clan is to avoid being in contempt.

With that possibility lingering in the background, I'm thinking that monied donors who might have quietly contributed before will not want to risk the limelight. Secondly, contempt citations can be ongoing with the sentence being conditioned on defendant's behavior in producing resources, or some other behavior repugnant to the Phelps clan (perhaps serving time in an aids clinic, etc.).

It's one thing to grin when you're on the outside and being interviewed by CNN, it's another when you're sitting in the hoosegow and no one cares if you're even alive anymore. It also might be rather hard to smile if the jailer does not provide special protections. In the general population Fred might get a closer look at gay marriage than he's anticipated, if you get my drift.

0

mom_of_three 6 years, 5 months ago

Too bad more military families can't take them to court, all at the same time. How would they be able to afford the lawyers and be in many places at once?? I know they are lawyers themselves, but they didn't try this case in Maryland..... I read in once article that the family affords to fly because of tithing of the church. Isn't the church all family members anyway??

0

hujiko 6 years, 5 months ago

Really all they want is attention. As outrageous as they are, and as much as I'd love to blow them all to their "hell", if we all ignored them, they would see nothing they say will get them noticed, and if lucky, they would stop the nonsense.

0

4th_grade_education 6 years, 5 months ago

denak: "This case is not going to end up at the U.S. Supreme Court. It might, although doubtful, end up in the KS State Supreme Court but not the SCOTUS."

Uhh... the case was tried in Maryland, not Kansas. On top of that, it was tried in federal court. Even if the court was applying state law, it would be Maryland law. The Kansas Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction over this case.

"Unless, the lawyers can show that there is a fundemental issue that has not ever been addresssed before, the Supreme Court is going to take a pass."

Or if they can show that the lower courts' rulings were erroneous... hence the purpose of the appellate system.

Eride: "You cannot cause others extreme emotional distress and then shield yourself behind the 1st amendment and I doubt there are many people in the world who wouldn't agree that Phelps conduct caused the plaintiff in this case extreme emotional distress."

Uhh.. See: National Socialist Party v. Skokie, 432 U.S. 43 (1977). (per curiam) Go ahead and Shepardize that for the whole story. But you'll see that you are exactly wrong as stated by a unanimous opinion by the US Supreme Court.

0

SlickNick 6 years, 5 months ago

Wake up!

Attorneys know where to hide money.

Resources are behind them from big places.

Fred won't pay a dime.

0

compmd 6 years, 5 months ago

Maybe now they can be dragged in front of a federal criminal court. Where's all the money? As the attorney in this case noted, how does a practicing attorney have $306? They've been chased for tax issues before. Now that they have a debt to pay the law is not on their side as far as hiding money goes. I really, really hope that this was the first domino to fall.

0

SlickNick 6 years, 5 months ago

Agnostick (Anonymous) says:

"the Gettos?"

I wasn't sure what you were talking about so googled the last two words. This is what Google supplied the gettos gettos.com. Here are some related searches. Sponsored Listings. Masturbation How Tos * Get Real Answers From Real Women and Share Your Tips ... www.indialite.com/redirect.asp?pageId... - 40k - Cached - Similar pages

So was that a cry for help Agie?

0

denak 6 years, 5 months ago

This case is not going to end up at the U.S. Supreme Court. It might, although doubtful, end up in the KS State Supreme Court but not the SCOTUS.

First, even though we like to say that we can appeal all the way to the Supreme Court, in reality, this isn't true. Appealing to the Supreme Court is not a right and most the time, your chances are slim to none.

First of all, lets look at the cost. Petitions for a Writ of Certiorari can cost between $30,000 to $100,000 to write.Most are written by high powered law firms that cost a lot. Obviously, if one of the defendants only has 306 dollars in the bank, this is going to pose a little bit of a problem especially since that will leave her with only 6 dollars after the 300 dollar filing fee. Considering the costs and the chances, I sincerely doubt most law firms are going to put in the time and expense.

The Supreme Court receives approximately 7,000 petitions a year and only grants roughly a 100. They will usually only consider cases where there is a split opinion in the circuit courts of appeal and if it the issue deals with a fundemental issue of Constitutional Law. But, usually,they will not grant a petition for a "fundemental Constitutional issue' if the issues has been addressed numberous times before. There have been several Freedom of Speech cases similar to this one. Unless, the lawyers can show that there is a fundemental issue that has not ever been addresssed before, the Supreme Court is going to take a pass.

Personally, I am happy to see this judgement. Al Capone and Gotti and all of those mobsters weren't brought down by charges of racketeering that stuck, they got put away for tax evasion. Slowly but surely, if you chip away at these people, you will eventually bring them down. This lawsuit succeeded. Hopefully, another family will now sue and another and another and they can use this suit as a precedent and bring them down.

I think these people are vile people. Freedom of Speech should not excuse emotional cruelty and that is what I feel that this is. This isn't just a matter of hurting someone's feelings. This is on another level and as a result, should be dealt with harshly.

Dena

0

oldgoof 6 years, 5 months ago

Ag, they have the money, they will find the time....i.e. they can't be compelled to be everywhere at once, and hence they will enjoy the long drawn-out process. Fred Is Loving This. This may not seem logical, but you know this is true.

You used the word lawsuits "popping up in other states." The same words which Fred Sr used today on CNN: State and local municipality "popcorn litigation." .....which he is thoroughly enjoying, but really wished Congress would enter into/preclude so he could get to the big show earlier.

Fred will be in all the headlines tomorrow. It will be one of the happiest days.

I'm not defending him. I'm telling you how people who strap bombs to their body think.

0

white_mountain 6 years, 5 months ago

I am okay with the Phelps group expressing an opinion in any place other than near the funeral location. However at that close proximity, it becomes very emotionally destructive and inciteful to the family, who is already suffering tremendously.

As a society, we recognize that certain boundaries of "free speech" ought not be crossed, and this is rightfully one of them.

0

americorps 6 years, 5 months ago

As a gay left leaning liberal democrat civil libertarian,

I am torn..because I am also a human being.

I am not sure how I could rule on this case, if the fundamental right to privacy extends to include prohibiting free speech in public spaces that are near the private event.

I do not think, however, that this will go far beyond the scope of funerals as the essence is a right to privacy at that particular type of event, however I aint no lawyer.

If the dis-barred phelps and his mentally ill family were all struck by lightning and killed instantly, I can not say I would feel any compassion for them...and that is probably a sin of mine..but I do feel strongly about the Constitution so I hope our courts tread very carefully here.

0

Agnostick 6 years, 5 months ago

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III (Anonymous) says:

"There is an upside to this. While they may have trouble collecting on the suits, who will want to donate money to Fred when all of his financial records are likely to become matters of public record.

"Someone has been funding the activities of this bunch, and I'd love to find out who it is. Without financial support these losers would have to get real jobs, or go on welfare."


Yes!!! Yes!!!! Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hetfield, you rock!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As to the crap about "appeals" and "drag out for years"....?? Get bent, get back, get real! Hell, isn't that the case with 99% of all litigation anyways? Besides, just because the Westboro Bigots want to dance with SCOTUS... that don't necessarily mean that SCOTUS will let them. SCOTUS chooses what cases they will hear. Most get turned away.

From your favorite and mine... Wikipedia:

The Court grants a petition for certiorari only for "compelling reasons," spelled out in the court's Rule 10. Such reasons include, without limitation:

  • to resolve a conflict in the interpretation of a federal law or a provision of the federal constitution

  • to correct an egregious departure from the accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings

  • to resolve an important question of federal law, or to expressly review a decision of a lower court that conflicts directly with a previous decision of the Court.

This case has nothing to do with the First Amendment. SCOTUS won't touch it.

Meanwhile... today's decision emboldens other grieving families who were trampled on, in a very public and humiliating way, by the hate crimes of the Westboro Bigot Childmolestors. Over the next month or so, other lawsuits will probably start popping up in other states, maybe even here in Kansas. The Phelps will probably be expected to send a litigant to each and every one--either send one of their own, or hire a local attorney to do the work for them. Fending off so many lawsuits, it will be interesting to see how they find time and/or money to drive all over creation with picket signs.

--Ag

0

Joe Hyde 6 years, 5 months ago

Military funerals for active duty victims are events at which the deceased serviceman or servicewoman's relatives and friends are trying to cope with intense emotions. For Westboro protesters to invade the privacy and symbolic patriotic reality of this most tragic and personal of moments, to invade it in the extremely provocative fashion they do...well, I view such behavior as evidence of a death wish.

Given their self-righteous attitude and bold rudeness that each time deeply shocks the already-devastated survivors and friends of the deceased, I can't help but think the day will come when Westboro members conduct a protest at one too many military funerals, and in a spontaneous act of rage lethal violence of the sort that kills military people will get unleashed on them.

Surely many others fear this happening. Indeed, it could be that the lawsuits brought against Westboro are for a dual purpose: first, to protect the privacy of military funerals; second, to protect the Westboro group from its suicidal leadership.

0

Agnostick 6 years, 5 months ago

Marion (Marion Lynn) says:

"Although I in no way agree with what the Phelps Klan preaches, I wonder what the reaction would be had the losers of the lawsuit been a "Green" group, an anti-war group or "Pro-choice" protesters.

"This is a decision which could have chilling effects on the right of Free Speech."


No surprise, there, that a cyberstalking spammer like Marion NickDanger/gypsynatalie would have no respect for the concept of "personal responsibility."

Except, of course, when it comes to those she disagrees with.

How about taking some personal responsibility for you and Gragg's ongoing slander of the Gettos?

The truth of the matter is, this case has NOTHING to do with the First Amendment. The Westboro Bigot Childmolestors have been exercising "free speech" for many decades. They made a consicous choice to wreak emotional havoc, pain, and distress on grieving families. The Constitution gives us many rights--"injuring our fellow man" is not among those enumerated rights.

The day that Matthew Snyder was buried, the Cult could have chosen to protest on the courthouse steps... in front of Snyder's home military base... at a nearby shopping mall. Even the local Wal-Mart would have exposed their "message" to hundreds more eyeballs than those that attended their funeral. After all, if what you're REALLY interested in is "maximum exposure" of people to your message... wouldn't you go for the largest crowd you can reach, in as short a time as possible?

The ocCult has not been doing this. Ancillary publicity and "shock value" aside, they've been choosing their "targets" for the primary purpose of inflicting emotional distress and psychological trauma on grieving families. These walking wastes of human protoplasm haven't been protesting--they've been committing hate crimes.

Study the Constitution all you want, gypsynatalie--but one sentence you won't find in the Bill of Rights is, "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of hate groups to inflict damage on grieving families."

That is not a "right" that exists in the Constitution. You may wish it was there, gypsynatalie, but it's not.

Agnostick agnostick@excite.com http://www.uscentrist.org http://www.americanplan.org

P.S. That's my First Amendment for the evening. ;)

0

janeb 6 years, 5 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

0

laughingatallofu 6 years, 5 months ago

Unfortunately, the Snyders will not receive a dime. This will be tied up in court for YEARS (if not decades, if Fred and his ilk have their way). The US legal system is an accomplice. Oh well. God doesn't hate anyone. But he will hold the Phelps's responsible for telling a lie (i.e., God hates fags).

0

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 6 years, 5 months ago

There is an upside to this. While they may have trouble collecting on the suits, who will want to donate money to Fred when all of his financial records are likely to become matters of public record.

Someone has been funding the activities of this bunch, and I'd love to find out who it is. Without financial support these losers would have to get real jobs, or go on welfare.

Sigmund is also dead on when he points out that trash like this have no support from the mainstream of either the left, or the right. This is the kind of non-ideological evil that is only found in the extremes of groups like the Manson family.

That said, Fred is a very bright man, and so are his daughters. They will find ways to drag this out and use it to further their message, although one wonders what the real message is since it has nothing to do with the actual tenets of Christianity.

0

stream47 6 years, 5 months ago

The First Amendment is not an unlimited license for people to say whatever they wish. Libel, slander, and defamation of character are all forms of speech not protected by the Constitution. Neither is the intentional infliction of emotional distress. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has held that "there are four elements to a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress: (1) the conduct must be intentional or reckless, (2) the conduct must be extreme and outrageous, (3) a causal connection must exist between the wrongful conduct and the emotional distress, and (4) the emotional distress must be severe." Gantt v. Security USA, Inc., 356 F.3d 547 (4th Cir. 2004), where the court applies Maryland law.

The jury apparently found that all four parts of the claim had been established on a factual basis. The same apparently holds for the invasion of privacy count. As to the reasonableness of the damages, anyone can do a search on the Shawnee County Appraiser's web page, with the owners last name set to 'phelps' and no other information given: http://www.co.shawnee.ks.us/ap/R_prop/Search.asp

and find the names of all of the people in the phelps clan, and also find that the appraised property values of the houses of the defendants are $431,000.00 and the appraised property value of the Westboro Baptist Church is $442,800, as of 2007. I'll bet they've got tons of money squirreled away, it'll take lots of work to get it all... but I'll bet they've got the money to pay both the compensatory and the punitive damages.

0

labmonkey 6 years, 5 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

0

Ralph Reed 6 years, 5 months ago

Hmmm

Unfortunately Phelps et al are going to approach this as a 1st Amendment issue. I don't think they'll win (read that as, trust they won't) because some court will eventually say, "Enough."

The first amendment reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

I see the operative phases as, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging ... the right of the people peaceably to assemble..." Congress has not made a law prohibiting the free exercise of the Phelps "religion," restricting it perhaps, but not prohibiting it. Also, the Phelps people, clan, mob are not assembling peaceably. If anything they are inciting to riot (which the last I saw is a crime). So, I don't think they have a case.

The Phelps right to free exercise of their "religion" stops where it infringes upon my right to peaceful assembly. In essence, they violate my constitutional rights by not allowing me to assemble peaceably. I have an expectation of both privacy and peaceful assembly at a funeral or memorial service. Their behavior does not allow me to exercise that right.

I am pleased that the jury decided in favor of the family and not the Phelps. I hope that more families grow the cojones to challenge the Phelps.

0

BlackVelvet 6 years, 5 months ago

At least this case wasn't tried in Douglas County....where anything goes. I know for a fact that in the past, Fred Phelps' clan has shielded themselves from those they royally pissed off, by placing their young children between themselves and those who wanted to pound the crap out of the. And the Douglas County DA's Office couldn't find a law that was violated. As I said, anything goes.

0

oldgoof 6 years, 5 months ago

matahari's 7:09 and Janeb's 7:26 are both right (as well as others). Even assuming that a judgement exists after all appeals, Fred would no sooner pay a dime than admit his has always been wrong, and this will go on, until he dies....and then perhaps even more. . Just today Fred was on a CNN segment high-hooting about all the grand fun he was having these days and he just so badly wants a federal law so he can go the US supremes, instead of all these "popcorn suits" he called them, popping out of different states and localities.

0

janeb 6 years, 5 months ago

No they will not shut up. You can bet they will continue to protest even if they have to do it away from the funerals. Fred is obsessive about his right to spread the word of damnation. I myself do not know what the founding fathers envisioned for free speech since they were dead long before I was born, but in my lifetime seen more damage done by others than by Fred. Don't get me wrong the guy makes me sick, but he is still out there and he has offspring who have even more of them.

0

hawkperchedatriverfront 6 years, 5 months ago

I hope that guys family puts a lien on Fred's church building. And what a shame that Fred is so stupid to drag those little kids around. The sooner the courts rule against Fred and take the family for everything, the better off those kids will be. Some grandfather that idiot is. The children should be removed and placed in homes in foreign countries.

0

Martin_D_15 6 years, 5 months ago

marion is WRONG, what the phelps are doing is NOT free speech. they are just showing their stupidity and bigotry. this is NOT what the founding fathers envisioned.

0

Martin_D_15 6 years, 5 months ago

use the phelps compound as a test site for nuclear weapons!!

finally someone has shut up these stupid SOBs!

0

matahari 6 years, 5 months ago

This is exactly the type of exposure Phelps was hoping for! Those people will never get their money, and Phelps followers will be more united than ever! Congrats Phelps, you have finally achieved the notoriety you and your family have been working towards, and more!

0

macon47 6 years, 5 months ago

PHRED WILL NEVER PAY A DIME HE IS JUST LIKE ALL THE LIBERAL WHINERS IN LAWRENCE AND BUDDIES WITH THE ACLU PEAS IN A POD. LOTS OF PRESS MAKES KANSAS LOOK LIKE A BUNCH OF LIBERAL LOSERS. WHATS THE DIFF?

0

Eride 6 years, 5 months ago

The Supreme Court isn't going to issue a writ of certiorari to hear the appeal of this. The 1st amendment of the constitution does not afford one unassailable rights to say whatever they wish. There are limits on free speech and these limits have been established for decades in case law. You cannot cause others extreme emotional distress and then shield yourself behind the 1st amendment and I doubt there are many people in the world who wouldn't agree that Phelps conduct caused the plaintiff in this case extreme emotional distress.

It was about time someone who had been directly harmed by Phelps filed a suit against Phelps for this tort.

0

Sigmund 6 years, 5 months ago

This will be appealed and will take alot time, probably years. I expect they will do everything possible to avoid this judgement. They may even eat up millions of their assets successfully appealing (which wouldn't break my heart). I know nothing of the Mass. IIED or IP statutes, but the amount of the judgement seems a bit excessive. If the appeal keeps them busy and off the streets I'll be quite happy. I suspect they are as hated as much by the Right as the Left, a unique distinction in this day and age of polarization politics.

0

ralphralph 6 years, 5 months ago

It IS legal, in the sense that it's not a crime. But that doesn't mean they aren't committing a civil wrong. The funeral of a soldier is no different than that of a non-soldier. It is a private affair for the family and friends of the deceased. Yes, the doors are open and I suppose strangers from the public can attend, but it is NOT an open public forum. To picket a funeral is a shocking and despicable act, which is designed to cause emotional harm and indeed does cause that harm. The world is full of places where Fred & Co are free to spout their message of hate ... the steps of a funeral not being among those places.

0

rocksolid 6 years, 5 months ago

This is headed to the Supreme Court with many appeals, but applause is in order to Baltimore Md. How ironic this decision comes on Halloween. Will their next signs be 'Will Work for Food"?

0

mom_of_three 6 years, 5 months ago

they have to have some sort of income to go everywhere and protest......

if you keep them busy in court, then how can they protest.......

0

imastinker 6 years, 5 months ago

I am torn between being very happy that this may stop those cooks and between thinking that this should be legal.

0

IceandInk 6 years, 5 months ago

In my opinion freedom of assembly, not freedom of speech, is the guaranteed right in question. Both rights are covered in the Bill of Rights, but the freedom of assembly is moderated by time and place. People must be given the right to assemble for whatever reason they deem fit, but the local government does have the right to determine at what reasonably soon time and close place they may do so for public safety reasons. Phelps may have the right to spew all the bilge filth he has breath for, but he does not necessarily have the right to do it at a funeral. Local governments have used this power in the past to stop potentially violent conflicts from breaking out between two different parading groups, I don't see why they can't use it against Phred this time.

0

4th_grade_education 6 years, 5 months ago

Unfortunately this is giving the Phelps' what they really want... The chance to appeal to the Supreme Court.

0

oldgoof 6 years, 5 months ago

The Phelps may be a lot of things, but stupid isn't among them. Ask Sigmund, Bailee, or Kansas776 about the various ways different parts of this can be appealed in differing routes. This will take years.
... And I wouldn't be believing too much in any financial statements they might have filed. But they would be fun to read.

0

macon47 6 years, 5 months ago

THE ACLU WILL BAIL OUT PHRED THATS WHAT THEY DO BEST AFTER ALL HE HAS HIS GOD GIVEN RIGHTS FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND THEY ARE LOSERS JUST LIKE HIM THAT IS RIGHT UP THEIR ALLEY

0

trombeck 6 years, 5 months ago

It was unclear if the plaintiffs will be able to collect the damages awarded.

The defense attorney said the assets of the church and the three defendants are less than a million dollars and the compensatory award is about three times the defendants' net worth, mainly in homes, cars and retirement accounts.

In his rebuttal, Trebilcock said it was up to jurors to decide the truthfulness of the financial documents, noting the documents show Rebecca Phelps-Davis has $306 in the bank.

Trebilcock noted Phelps-Davis is a practicing attorney and pointed to testimony by the defendants showing how much they traveled to spread their message. "Rebecca Phelps has $306? She must be using Priceline.com. It doesn't make any sense."

The attorney urged jurors to determine an amount "that says don't do this in Maryland again. Do not bring your circus of hate to Maryland again."

The church has about 75 members.

Earlier, church members staged a demonstration outside the federal courthouse, which is located on a busy thoroughfare a few blocks west of Baltimore's Inner Harbor, while passing motorists honked and shouted insults.

Church founder Fred Phelps held a sign reading "God is your enemy," while his daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper stood on an American flag while carrying a sign that read "God hates fag enablers." Members of the group sang "God Hates America,"' to the tune of "God Bless America."

0

Marion Lynn 6 years, 5 months ago

Although I in no way agree with what the Phelps Klan preaches, I wonder what the reaction would be had the losers of the lawsuit been a "Green" group, an anti-war group or "Pro-choice" protesters.

This is a decision which could have chilling effects on the right of Free Speech.

0

trombeck 6 years, 5 months ago

Sorry for the long posts, but here's an update with punitive damages, which now have been announced:

BALTIMORE (AP) - The father of a fallen Marine was awarded nearly $11 million Wednesday in damages by a jury that found leaders of a fundamentalist church had invaded the family's privacy and inflicted emotional distress when they picketed the Marine's funeral.

The jury first awarded $2.9 million in compensatory damages. It returned later in the afternoon with its decision to award $6 million in punitive damages for invasion of privacy and $2 million for causing emotional distress to the Marine's father, Albert Snyder of York, Pa.

Snyder sued the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church for unspecified monetary damages after members staged a demonstration at the March 2006 funeral of his son, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq.

The defense said it planned to appeal and one of the church's leaders, Shirley Phelps-Roper, said the members would continue their pickets of military funerals.

Church members believe that U.S. deaths in the war in Iraq are punishment for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality.

Before the jury began deliberating the size of punitive damages, U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett noted the size of the compensatory award "far exceeds the net worth of the defendants," according to financial statements filed with the court.

Snyder sobbed when he heard the first verdict, while members of the church greeted the news with tightlipped smiles.

Church members routinely picket funerals of military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, carrying signs such as "Thank God for dead soldiers" and "God hates fags."

A number of states have passed laws regarding funeral protests, and Congress has passed a law prohibiting such protests at federal cemeteries, but the Maryland lawsuit is believed to be the first filed by the family of a fallen serviceman.

Snyder's suit named the church, its founder, the Rev. Fred Phelps, and his two daughters, Shirley Phelps-Roper and Rebecca Phelps-Davis, 46. Snyder claimed the protests intruded upon what should have been a private ceremony and sullied his memory of the event.

Attorneys for the church said in closing arguments Tuesday that the burial was a public event and that even abhorrent points of view are protected by the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech and religion.

In his closing arguments during the punitive damages phase, plaintiff attorney Craig Trebilcock described church members as bullies who "seek out those among us who are at the weakest point in our lives."

"That's why they've gotten away with it until this point," the attorney said, adding that grieving families were too weak to fight back "until this man."

Defense lawyer Jonathan Katz reminded jurors that punitive damages are designed to deter future conduct, but not bankrupt or financially destroy.

0

Michael Capra 6 years, 5 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

0

yankeelady 6 years, 5 months ago

It's about time---the Capitol Journal has more details on their website. I'm afraid oldgoof is right, they will see this as a chance for an even larger stage.

0

inluelty 6 years, 5 months ago

It's up to $10.9 million now with punitive damages. Excellent! Here's hoping there are many more lawsuits against them.

0

yankeelady 6 years, 5 months ago

Have they ever been held accountable before? This is wonderful. I hope the Snyder family can put the trauma of their son's funeral behind them and remember him as they should.

0

oldgoof 6 years, 5 months ago

Before everyone gets out and toots their horns, this one will be one long haul, because Phred will obviously appeal this up higher to get determination on the constitutional questions. It is better than a hole in the boat though, obviously.

0

CindiCat 6 years, 5 months ago

"members of the church greeted the news with tightlipped smiles."

Bet Fred and his cult did not see THAT one coming and I TOTALLY love it.

My prayers to the Snyder family.

0

Commenting has been disabled for this item.