As you may have heard, I am being sued by Boston City Councilor Julia Mejia for libel in Suffolk Superior court. Mejia is a powerful person with a high profile attorney and is hoping to weaponize the courts in order to silence me as I continue to investigate allegations that she was involved in a DUI that was covered up in December. Expert First Amendment Attorney Marc Randazza has agreed to defend me in this case, and I don’t expect him to work for free because he’s not a communist. So I started a GiveSendGo campaign which you can donate to by clicking here.
Tonight on the Live Show at 9 PM we will be discussing this lawsuit and other stories of the week. However, due to a YouTube strike we cannot stream from our channel. But I will never be silenced, and the show must go on, so we’ll be streaming from two alternative platforms – my Clarence Woods Emerson Facebook page, and our Rumble channel. We plan on leaving YouTube entirely soon and will be doing all of our shows on Rumble, since they don’t censor. So please create an account and subscribe to our channel.
Mejia is suing me over two blogs:
- This one from February 15, 2021 about her live streaming a murder scene on Facebook.
- This one from December 15, 2022 about her violating the First Amendment by making her Twitter account private after being questioned about allegations of drunk driving.
Let me be clear – this lawsuit is a threat to democracy. A healthy democracy requires citizens to be able to freely discuss political issues and behavior of political leaders. What Mejia is trying to do is silence an award winning journalist, who has broken countless stories about political corruption, because we are writing about her. If she can silence me then she could silence any citizen or media outlet. She is doing this to scare anyone else who might speak out against her in the hopes that they will self censor. This is not how a democracy works.
In order to win a libel lawsuit the plaintiff must prove that the defendant printed a lie about them, that they knew it was a lie, and that the lie caused provable damages. In the case of Mejia the bar is even higher thanks to New York Times vs. Sullivan, because as a public figure she must prove actual malice on my part. She would have to prove that I intentionally printed things that I knew were false, and that she was damaged by them. Let’s look at her complaint, starting with the first blog, to see if it has any merit.
A man named Brandon Williams murdered on Julia Mejia’s street and she reportedly live streamed herself on Facebook at the scene of the crime before and after police arrived. This upset a lot of people, particularly the victim’s family, who thought it was insensitive. Nothing I printed was “knowingly false.” I wrote about this incident more than a week after it was initially reported by Live Boston, because I was taking a mental health break at the time. All I was doing was regurgitating information they had already reported on February 8. Here’s what Live Boston published:
Allegedly after hearing gunshots ring out in her neighborhood, Councilor Mejia without hesitation picked up the phone and started a live stream. Rather than call 911, or offer assistance, she decided to use the tragic death of her neighbor for her own self promotion according to those who saw the video. Those who saw the video, including the victims family report that Mejia can be seen walking into what was an active crime scene, up to the body of the deceased, and proceeding to touch objects in the scene and possibly the corpse. The video allegedly goes on to show her refusing to cooperate with police and then further upsetting the family by telling them false information about the man’s condition, indicating that he may be alive and further causing more chaos. Quickly after the incident, Mejia removed the video, which we are currently working to try and recover, in a clear and blatant attempt to cover her tracks.
I never saw the live stream video because Mejia took it down. Since this is now a civil case in Superior Court that may constitute destruction of evidence, since the video would prove whether or not this actually happened. She must hand that over.
Live Boston simply reported what witnesses who viewed the video told them they saw, which is the essence of reporting. In my blog a week later I cited and linked the Live Boston report as the basis for my story:
Last week Live Boston reported that dedicated father and veteran Brandon Williams was shot and killed in Mattapan. Julia Mejia lives in this neighborhood and heard the gunshots, but instead of calling 911 or attempting to help the man, she began doing what she always does – live streaming for attention. She was able to get behind the police tape in an active crime scene, filmed his corpse, and reportedly touched him and other objects in the crime scene. She flaunted her power as a city councilor, refused to cooperate with police, and further upset the victim’s family by falsely claiming that he was still alive.
Yet Mejia is not suing Live Boston or the witnesses who told Live Boston what was on the video.
She also went on to apologize for her insensitive behavior on Twitter:
In the spirit of accountability, I wanted to apologize to those who were exposed to the post I shared last week. My sincere condolences to my neighbors as they grief their loss. I responded as a parent, a neighbor and someone who uses social media to amplify the realities.
— Julia Mejia (@juliaforboston) February 8, 2021
If she didn’t do what was alleged then why was she apologizing?
Live Boston included screenshots from family members of the victim after her apology, accusing her of exploiting the tragedy and causing harm to the family.
Will she be suing them too? Is no one allowed to criticize this extremely powerful politician?
The second blog I’m being sued over was titled “Boston City Councilor Julia Mejia Makes Twitter Account Private After Being Asked About Allegations Of Drunk Driving And Drug Use.”
Everything in that title is undeniably and provably true. Elected officials are not allowed to make their social media accounts private, or block constituents, because it’s a First Amendment violation. This was ultimately what the story was about, which required an explanation for why she chose to do this.
I was also extremely careful and meticulous in how I worded this, as I’m very familiar with defamation law and understand what is and isn’t permissible. Here’s an excerpt:
In the last 48 hours we have been inundated with tips about looking into an alleged drunk driving incident over the weekend in Boston involving City Councillor Julia Mejia. We don’t print rumors or gossip as fact, but the allegations were troubling because multiple sources in the Boston Police Department have alleged that an unnamed Boston Police Officer gave her a pass and allowed her to get a ride home. To be clear, we have no concrete evidence that this happened, as the city is thus far refusing to hand over body cam footage, and she was not arrested. However, the allegations gained credibility due to the volume of tips we’ve received about this, so I reached out to Mejia directly for comment yesterday.
No concrete evidence this happened.
Volume of tips received.
We don’t print rumors as fact.
Sources in the Boston Police Department.
At no point did I ever say in the blog that it was confirmed she was pulled over for driving drunk. Just that she made her Twitter account when asked about the dozens of allegations that were being made against her. I did my professional duty as a journalist and attempted to reach her for comment:
I even went to her house. She chose not to respond to the allegations, as is her right. Had it stopped there I would have had nothing to write about. However, it became a story when she made her Twitter account private after I reached out and asked her this.
An elected official violating the First Amendment is a newsworthy story. Full stop.
The complaint says that I said that Mejia was involved in a DUI, that it was covered up by a Boston cop, and that this was untrue. It also says that my statement about going to BPD headquarters and having it confirmed to me that an incident occurred, was false.
But I didn’t say it as a statement of fact, I said it was being alleged. I also spoke with reporters from two other media outlets who were both aware of the incident and actively investigating. All of us were being stonewalled by the city, but now Mejia has opened the door for a court to force them to hand over any information they have in the discovery process.
Unfortunately for Mejia I recorded my interaction at BPD headquarters in a video that I have not published yet, just in case this happened. The tape shows me speaking with a Sgt who gives me a police report I requested. Without being asked or prompted he told me it was not the Julia Mejia incident, but confirmed that it did occur. I spoke with 3 other suits at BPD headquarters that day who also knew of the incident I was investigating.
The complaint goes on to say that I asked her about the allegations, and specifically said that she did NOT look like she was on drugs.
Reporters in a free country are allowed to ask powerful politicians about allegations of criminal behavior and corruption. Reporters in a free country can say that elected officials are not on drugs. Reporters in a free country can point out that many people on social media have suggested that a City Councilor is on drugs, while making note of changes in their physical appearance.
@universalhub @bostonherald @DoctorTurtleboy @GlobeMcGrory @HowieCarrShow @G_CURLEY do any of you think that @BOSCityCouncil Julia Mejia exhibits characteristics of one who has a cocaine addiction? Maybe council President @EdforBoston should impose drug testing for councilors.
— Dick Richards (@LisaHardy36) June 25, 2022
The most disturbing part about this lawsuit is that Mejia claims that it is unfair that she is being “held up to public scorn,” and that the blog “severely injured her good name and reputation, and election opportunities.”
Newsflash – elected officials exist to be held up to public scorn. Reporters and people you serve are allowed to criticize you. The fact that an elected official seems to believe that no one in the media is allowed to investigate or criticize her is frightening. Not only because it shows what people like this would do with absolute power, but because someone this stupid could obtain office in the first place.
As for the blog damaging her election opportunities, Mejia won the last seat on the City Council in 2019 by exactly one vote.
Then I wrote blogs about her. The “damage” resulted in her going from 4th to 2nd, and gaining 40,000 votes.
Good luck proving damages.
The only person who was defamed here was Turtleboy. In response to our factual reporting that Mejia privatized her Twitter account she posted a video on YouTube in which she cried about something called Frankie Lasagna body shaming her, and called me a white supremacist.
“This is what white supremacists do. They tell lies and hope you will believe them.”
Maybe we will countersue for damages, since I am not a white supremacist, nor did I lie about anything. This directly affected my reputation as a journalist, and she made these statements with malice since I am well known civil rights advocate.
This may prove to be helpful though:
“I am an elected official, and this is par for the course.”
Thank you for admitting that you recognize that my reporting and the public commentary about you is standard for any elected official.
The Boston Globe contacted me prior to publishing a story about this lawsuit. This was the comment I gave them, in case they printed something I didn’t say.
The article was fair, even though it left the last sentence out. However, the headline was absurd:
Website operator? I’ve broken more stories in the last 10 years than the Boston Globe could ever dream of. This was interesting though:
Nice going Julia! The Globe had ignored this story before and it had basically gone away. But thanks to your ridiculous lawsuit they are now actively looking into it. Here’s the rest of the Globe’s story.
The attorney representing Mejia is a real scumbag too, and we will have more on him coming shortly.