The City of Lumberton vs. The Freedom of Speech

If you have followed this blog, you are aware that I am going into court on Monday, October 19, 2015 to defend my first amendment rights. One of the star witnesses in this case is Mayor Ben Winston, the same man that was on the news for failing to pay the City of Lumberton's jail bill of $19,732.95, caused the City of Lumberton to default on their MDQ loan payment's that resulted in having a tax lien to on the city's sales taxes (the City of Lumberton is now in a repayment plan that will cost $266,198.07) and this is the same person that will be on the ballot in 16 days seeking election as a County Supervisor. So, I think it would be fair to say that Winston has a vested interest in getting this blog shut down because many of his poor business decisions are not featured on WDAM. Another witness is former alderman and business partner of Ben Winston, Bobby Gibson. I am still confused about his willingness to take the stands especially with all his not so secret secrets. Current Alderman Tommy Dukes is also eager to take the stand as well as Alderwoman at Large Cora Rogers. It's interesting that Alderman Quincy Rogers was never asked to testify on behalf of the clerk. It's interesting that the latest hired clerk, Melissa whatever her last name, is now included on the witness list. She wasn't interested in testifying after she was terminated for allegedly catching Alderman Jay McGraw stealing but now that she's been given her job back, she's on board with testifying. Interesting. I wonder why the other clerk, Kenon is not being called to testify? She may have scruples after all. Besides, she already has 40/week; something Melissa is working on and I guess getting on the stand and playing the victim is the part of the deal. They're all looking to shut down the Lumberton Informer for various reasons. I think their attorney, William Ducker, forgot to tell them that they're all PUBLIC OFFICIALS and the burden of proof is higher because they must prove actual malice.
"Actual malice in United States law is a condition required to establish libel against public officials or public figures and is defined as "knowledge that the information was false" or that it was published "with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not." Reckless disregard does not encompass mere neglect in following professional standards of fact checking. The publisher must entertain actual doubt as to the statement's truth. This is the definition in only the United States and came from the landmark 1964 lawsuit New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, which ruled that public officials needed to prove actual malice in order to recover damages for libel."

After researching cases, I realized that there were cases brought against bloggers and in those cases it was ruled that bloggers have first amendment protection. Now keep in mind that I reside in the State of Mississippi but I believe that justice will find that I am within my right as a blogger to hold public officials accountable. As I stated, since I am being sued by a public official, they must prove malice. In other words they must prove what I was thinking at the time I posted the information on the blog. Well, the disclaimer on my blog clearly states the following:

"All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Jonathan Griffith, Administrator of Lumberton Politics, makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any comments, errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. In addition, my thoughts and opinions change from time to time…I consider this a necessary consequence of having an open mind. This blog is intended to provide a semi-permanent point of view and manifestation of the various thoughts running around my brain, and as such any thoughts and opinions expressed within out-of-date posts may not be the same, nor even similar, to those I may hold today. I’m a human being and my blog reflects that humanity."

One would think the City of Lumberton would be tired of getting embarrassed but obviously they're not. It's still hard to believe that Winston is taking part in such a case 16 days before the November election. If any of you are interested in coming attending the hearing, it will begin at 9:00 a.m. at the William J. Gamble Building (the new building). Court will be on the second floor and it's the courtroom to your left. Now, if your work schedule prevents you from attending, I understand but I will appreciate your prayers because I am going to WAR to defend my right to hold the City of Lumberton and its' public officials accountable.


  1. .....and We wonder why Lumberton is the laughing stock of the Pine Belt.....

  2. If God is for You, don't worry about who is against you!


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