|WE FINALLY WON ONE!|
|by Jean K. Duffey|
It has been a long time coming but was well worth the wait! The ruling is in and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a judgment against Pat Matrisciana, Citizens for an Honest Government, Inc., d/b/a Integrity Films; and Jeremiah Films. In the stunning 26 page opinion, Judge C. Arlen Beam discusses and dissects the evidence against Jay Campbell and Kirk Lane at length. Below are a few excerpts from the ruling. You may also read the entire ruling which is posted below this summary.
Quoting the ruling of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals:
Pat Matrisciana, through companies of which he is the chairman and president, produced and released a video indicating Jay Campbell and Kirk Lane, both law enforcement officers officers, had been implicated in the deaths of two teenage boys (Kevin Ives and Don Henry) and a subsequent cover-up. Campbell and Lane responded by bringing this diversity action for defamation. A jury found Matrisciana liable and judgment was entered in favor of the officers. Because we find that the record does not support the verdict, we reverse.
The video, Obstruction of Justice: The Mena Connection, which was released in May of 1996, portrays various aspects of a botched investigation of the deaths of two teenage boys, Kevin Ives and Don Henry. It associates various players with one another and insinuates illegal activity and complicity among assorted government entities, politicians, and law enforcement officers. The only reference to Campbell and Lane is found in a narrated graphic toward the video's end:
SUSPECTS IMPLICATED IN IVES/HENRY
MURDERS AND COVERUP
DAN HARMON, Prosecutor
RICHARD GARRETT, Deputy Prosecutor
JIM STEED, Sheriff
JAY CAMPBELL, Officer
KIRK LANE, Officer
DANNY ALLEN, Officer
The narrator says: Eyewitnesses have implicated several people in the murders and subsequent cover-up including . . . . End of quote.
The opinion, written for the five judge panel by Judge C. Arlen Beam, addresses the issue of falsity of the statement in question: "If an allegedly defamatory statement is factual we must be concerned with its truth or falsity and whether the author would have reason to believe it was false. . . . Therefore, in order to prevail in a suit for defamation, a public figure plaintiff must show the falsity of the statements at issue . . . . Although it is debatable as to whether the element of falsity must be established by clear and convincing evidence or by a preponderance of the evidence . . . here we find that Campbell and Lane failed to satisfy even the lower threshold."
"The most definite and, therefore, troublesome, aspect of the narration is the reference to "eyewitnesses." That term lends a certain tone of authenticity to the claim. However, appellees failed to prove the falsity of even the most damning interpretation. Law enforcement records, which were available to the public through freedom-of-information devices, revealed that purported eyewitnesses implicated law enforcement officers in the deaths of the Ives and Henry boys, including the appellees, either by name and or more tenuously by description. At least one report Mike Crook's account of the mysterious and elusive eyewitness, "Jerry" specifically named Lane. Descriptions given by Ronnie Godwin were not inconsistent with Lane and Campbell's physical appearances, albeit in a somewhat generic sense, and the description provided by Crook was not inconsistent with Campbell's physical description of himself or that provided by Godwin. Instead Campbell and Lane attacked the credibility of the sources . . . . We find that, although Campbell and Lane attacked the credibility of the purported eyewitnesses. . .which would go to ascertaining whether they had in fact caused the deaths, their attack does not address whether purported eyewitnesses implicated them. Nor did Campbell and Lane address whether they were alleged to have been involved in a cover-up. Therefore, they did not satisfy their burden of proving falsity by at least a preponderance of the evidence."
Another element that Campbell and Lane had to prove was that Matrisciana was reckless to rely on the Investigation of Jean Duffey and Linda Ives. Addressing that element, the opinion goes on to state:
"The record reveals that Matrisciana relied on investigations that had already been conducted, primarily by Ives and Duffey. We do not find it reckless for him to have relinquished editorial control over factual matters to them. Ives had been investigating the matter from shortly after her son's death in 1987 . . . and had a vested personal interest in pursuing the truth. Duffey had been a deputy prosecuting attorney for Saline County and the director of a drug task force in Saline County. Campbell and Lane offered no basis for us to conclude that Matriciana's reliance on them amounted to recklessness other than questioning their lack of experience as journalists. We will not, however, limit protection of journalistic endeavors to those pursued by individuals with college degrees in mass communications."
The opinion discusses at length the various witnesses statements about what was called the Lane/Campbell scenario at trial and then states: "Viewing each statement in isolation there may have been reasons to doubt the veracity of Godwin, Crook, or Harmon. However, given the corroboration by multiple sources, we do not see obvious reasons to doubt the accuracy of the various reports. . . ."
The court also found that the trial judge erred in not allowing evidence of intimidation, threats, and violence by Campbell and Lane against suspects and witnesses. They stated: "That evidence would have called into question the otherwise stellar portraits of Campbell and Lane's character painted by their parade of character witnesses."
In its conclusion, the opinion states that the evidence does not support the judgment against Pat Matrisciana, and therefore they reverse and remand for entry of judgment of dismissal.
The only thing in the appellate court's 26 page opinion that I would take issue with is the statement in footnote #5: ". . . former President Bill Clinton, who, as near as we can tell, was tossed into the video that is the subject of this appeal just for flavor."
Anyone who has followed this story over the years knows that Bill Clinton supported and defended the state's notorious medical examiner, Fahmy Malak, and his asinine ruling of Kevin and Dons deaths as accidental for years. There have been countless news stories, editorials, and even a segment on Dateline NBC, chronicling the debacle. Many of you will also recall that at least 2 of Clinton's top officials directly interfered with the investigation of Kevin and Don's murders his chief of staff, Betsy Wright and his drug czar, Robert Shepherd. Nobody's name was tossed into this video just for flavor.
I cannot tell you how very, very thankful and grateful I am to judges Beam, Morris, Shepherd, Arnold and Alsop. They are the only officials to date who have examined the evidence in this case and done their job.
Needless to say, Jean and I feel vindicated. Public officials from Governor Huckabee on down to our local prosecutor Barbara Webb, have publicly stated that if we have any evidence, we should take it to the proper authorities. We have done that countless times, to no avail. There have been investigations by Saline County Sheriff's office, the Arkansas State Police, the U.S. Attorney's office and the FBI, all of whom have had all of the information regarding Jay Campbell and Kirk Lane. To this day, no one has questioned them about the murders of Kevin and Don. In fact, two investigators, former Saline County deputy sheriff John Brown and Phyllis Cournan, a former FBI agent, have testified under oath that they were not allowed to question them. Five judges on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals examined the evidence and found that eyewitnesses have implicated Jay Campbell and Kirk Lane in the murders of Kevin and Don. The opinion states: "All in all, statements and rumors corroborating the Lane-Campbell scenario or implicating them as suspects emanate, in varying degrees of detail, from multiple sources."
My question is: WHY HAS THERE BEEN A COVER-UP PROTECTING JAY CAMPBELL AND KIRK LANE? Judge Beam writes: "In essence, their [Ives and Duffey] investigation only rendered more support for their theory of law enforcement collaboration in the cover-up."
For more details PLEASE read the ruling, in its entirety. Also, we will soon be releasing FBI documents obtained by Mara Leveritt [http://www.maraleveritt.com] which will prove that our assertions of a well-orchestrated law enforcement cover-up ARE true.
United States Court of Appeals
+ Text format: http://www.idfiles.com/reversal.htm
+ PDF format: http://www.ca8.uscourts.gov/opndir/01/07/001411P.pdf
+ Jean Duffey: firstname.lastname@example.org
+ Linda Ives: email@example.com
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