Illegal alien wins defamation case for being called a ‘criminal’ – set back for 1st Amendment
An illegal-alien day laborer who attacked a U.S. photographer at a notorious San Diego day labor site in 2006, was awarded $2,500 in damages for “defamation per se” by Judge Ronald Styn in a non-jury trial in San Diego Superior Court.
The Mexican national plaintiff, Alberto Jimenez, who was illegally in the country at the time of the attack of Los Angeles photographer John Monti, sued San Diego Minutemen founder Jeff Schwilk for defamation for calling the illegal immigrant attackers “criminals” when he forwarded an email with Monti’s pictures of Jimenez and six other suspects who were at the scene of the crime.
Initially the lawsuit was filed in October 2007 and all seven men shown on the flyer sued Schwilk, Monti, and Fox News Corporation for defamation. However, Fox News and Monti were eventually dismissed from the case in 2008 and 2009 and six of the seven plaintiffs dropped their lawsuits against Schwilk in February, leaving only Jimenez vs. Schwilk for the one-day judge-only trial.
When the trial began, Jimenez was not in the courtroom to meet his accuser. Schwilk immediately asked Judge Styn for a directed verdict to dismiss the case, but the judge opted to start the trial without him and gave Jimenez additional time to appear in court as his attorney said he was running late. The plaintiff’s attorney, Dan Gilleon, claimed his client was trying to get across the border and needed more time because he was a Tijuana, Mexico resident.
As testimony began Schwilk admitted that he had forwarded Monti’s ‘wanted’ flyer by email the day after the attack. The email was sent to a dozen law enforcement and trusted community leaders so they could be on the lookout for the suspects who were still at large. He explained anyone with knowledge of these pictured men needed to notify San Diego Police Department.
The victim, Mr. Monti then testified that Jimenez was indeed one of the seven men who attacked him from “behind and knocked him into the busy boulevard that Saturday morning in 2006.” Monti explained he had gone to the day labor site to investigate the connection between the street-side illegal alien hiring site and child prostitution in the nearby the migrant camps where many of the day laborers live.
Monti also said under oath that Jimenez had previously testified in his criminal trial in 2007 that he was an illegal alien and had no legal papers to gain employment legally in the U.S.
It is worth pointing out that Gilleon wanted to bar television video coverage of the one-day trial, however, the defendant, Schwilk and the judge stated it was an open court and cameras would be permitted in the courtroom.
After a lunch break the defense called Jimenez to the witness stand, but Jimenez still had not arrived in court 4 1/2 hours after the start of the trial.
Gilleon then claimed that “Jimenez’ wife was having surgery and he could not attend the trial that day.” Judge Styn was clearly tired of the excuses, however he allowed the trial to continue. It became clear the real reason Jimenez could not come to the trial was because he was not eligible to enter the country legally from his home in Tijuana, Mexico.
Schwilk again asked Judge Styn for a directed verdict, but again the judge declined, he wanted to proceed with closing statements. Schwilk pointed out to the judge that he had a right to question his accuser and the judge seemed to agree, but he also wanted to conclude the trial without the plaintiff.
Schwilk said, “I knew at that point the fix was in. This was so obviously a charade by Dan Gilleon and his La Raza employers who brought this frivolous case against us. There was no plaintiff in this case. This was a sham trial with no real accuser and Judge Styn played right along with La Raza’s devious plan.”
During the closing arguments, Gilleon accused Schwilk of conspiring with Sean Hannity, Alan Colmes and Fox News to spread Jimenez’ face around the world in an effort to defame the day laborer by characterizing him as a wanted criminal.
The case against Fox News was dismissed earlier in what was a fishing expedition because Hannity and Colmes aired a story in late November 2006 regarding the assault featuring Monti and his flyer with the seven men’s grainy pictures on it. See video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqscavZ4tyY
Gilleon asked the judge to award Jimenez $85,000 in damages for four counts of defamation, including $50,000 for providing NewFox s with a copy of the flyer.
Schwilk reminded the judge in his closing arguments that his private emails with Monti’s pictures had been sent only to a small group of law enforcement contacts, local community leaders and two local politicians who are leaders in the fight against illegal immigration.
Schwilk says Gilleon and his La Raza employers most likely got the email months after the fact from a disgruntled former member of SDMM who was kicked out of the group in February 2007 for bad behavior. He also pointed out again that Jimenez was an illegal alien and had obviously broken laws by entering the U.S. illegally.
Finally, Schwilk reminded the court that although Jimenez was never formally charged with the assault on Monti, he did participate in the attack and then fled the scene of the crime. “In law enforcement, flight implies guilt,” he said.
After a 15-minute recess, Judge Styn returned with his verdict finding Schwilk liable for one count of defamation for “carelessly” calling Jimenez a “criminal.” Schwilk plans to appeal.
Asked about the verdict, Schwilk said, “Judge Styn not only ruled against our protection of free speech, he is attempting to de-criminalize illegal aliens and the crimes they commit on American soil. Styn is yet another example of a bad judge attempting to legislate from the bench.”
Fellow San Diego Minuteman Barry Shipley observed the entire 5-hour trial and agreed.
“The judge completely ignored the court testimony that Jimenez was a criminal illegal alien and that the truth is a defense in a defamation case. Judge Styn should be removed from the bench,” Shipley explained. “He is a danger to our American Constitutional rights”.
The plaintiff’s attorney Daniel Gilleon was obviously pleased with the outcome of the trial. “We are very pleased with Judge Ronald Styn’s ruling. Once again, the Court system has shown that defamation is Schwilk’s chief weapon in his ‘war’ against illegal immigration. The judgments against Schwilk are starting to pile up.”
Schwilk saw it differently; “Of course La Raza and agents of the Mexican Government (Gilleon’s employers) are pleased that they have been able to chip away at the U.S. First Amendment. Their greatest fear in the border and immigration debate is truth tellers like myself and other leaders fighting daily to secure America from the mass criminal invasion from Mexico. Unfortunately for them, they will never shut down our free speech”.
Schwilk said the San Diego Minutemen would not be deterred by these malicious politically motivated lawsuits by the open border groups. “Our corrupt court system is all they have to try to shut us down,” he said. “Honestly, we don’t get distracted by all this court drama. We’re fighting to save San Diego from the invasion of criminals and drug smugglers from Mexico.”
SDMM have continued to expose outdoor prostitution rings in nearby McGonigle Canyon, including a highly publicized incident last October in which they caught another field brothel in action with trafficked Mexican girls and numerous Latino “Johns” paying for cheap sex in the bushes.
SDPD again refused to prosecute the suspected pimp and prostitute that were detained, but Mayor Sanders and SDPD were forced to clear out the canyons of migrant squatters yet again.
Schwilk said it is a constant cat and mouse game with the Mexican migrant camps and field prostitution rings. “We’ve been monitoring the canyons for four years now. We get the camps cleared out, but some of them eventually come back due to SDPD looking the other way at the illegal Mexican squatters. But there are far fewer migrant camps in San Diego County than when we started investigating these crime zones in 2006. We expect our success to continue to drive the Mexican Consulate and its operatives to further desperate measures to try and stop us.”
For the first time in more than three years, there are no lawsuits pending against SDMM members. Perhaps the illegal alien activists in San Diego are finally giving up on that failed and costly tactic.
With the latest push for amnesty heating up again, it appears that both sides in the illegal immigration debate are gearing up for some major battles.
Schwilk, who is a retired Marine, says he will fight until America’s borders are fully secured and the country returns to an orderly system of legal immigration. He believes most Americans strongly oppose amnesty for the approximately 20 million illegal aliens currently in the U.S.
“We’ve made huge gains in the past five years, but we still have a ways to go. We’re up against some very rich and powerful ethno-centric special interest groups, but no one should underestimate the spirit and determination of the American citizens”, he concluded.