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The First Amendment – Death By A Thousand Cuts.

New York Supreme Court Justice John Galasso

A 23 year old woman named Jessica Pelletier filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against her previous employer, a company by the name of Tikun Olam, Inc.

In papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, Jessica Pelletier, 23, of Rocky Hill, Conn., says management accused her of having “an attitude” because she didn’t want to hear bosses describe their sexual prowess in detail, objected when one of them ran his fingers through her hair and another stole her prescription pills.

Pelletier says one boss, Eric Lerner, the house counsel to Tikun Olam, Inc., was himself addicted to drugs and hounded her to share her medications with him, the lawsuit says.

Tikun Olam claims to be one of the biggest suppliers of medical cannabis in the world.

The company and Eric Lerner responded to the lawsuit by basically calling the allegation a pack of lies made by someone looking to get a quick payday.

Rick Ostrove, a lawyer for Tikun Olam and its officers, said “this is a frivolous lawsuit filed by a disgruntled person who the company terminated… We have emails and texts disproving her allegations. … We are confident these claims will be dismissed.”

We know all these things because the lawsuit is public record. The plaintiff and her lawyer held a press conference and made statements to the press. The lawyers and defendants made statements to the press as well. In other words, the who, what, when, where and how of the lawsuit was known and in the public record.

However, Eric Lerner decided to counter sue Pelletier under the premise that her lawsuit was filed strictly to embarrass him and cause the company financial damage.

The New York Daily News dutifully reported on all of these things.

Enter into the fray one New York Supreme Court Justice John Galasso.

NOTE: New York is a state that organizes its courts slightly differently in name than other states. Being a New York Supreme Court judge is the equivalent to being a Superior Court judge in other states. The New York Supreme Court is not the highest court in the state.

In his filing, Eric Lerner claimed that being named the defendant has damaged his reputation and he wanted his being named as a defendant stricken from the public eye.

Galasso bought into that lunacy and issued an order saying the New York Daily News had to scrub Lerner’s name from the records and online articles.

The paper has reacted just as one would expect and hope for:

We don’t know who’s telling the truth. We would happily tell Lerner’s side of the story — but in another insane decision, Galasso’s order seems to seal the entire file in Lerner’s suit, leaving it unclear what we can report about it.

Galasso has earned himself a coveted Daily News Knucklehead award. He cannot give it back, and we will never take this editorial down.

The same editorial has this gem of a paragraph, not only defying Galasso’s order to take down the name in other articles, but naming Lerner nine times:

The defendant’s name is Eric Lerner. Eric Lerner. Eric Lerner. Eric Lerner. Eric Lerner. Eric Lerner. Eric Lerner. Eric Lerner. Furthermore, Eric Lerner.

We have no idea why a supposed educated man and judge such as Judge Galasso would think that a) the public would not have an interest in this case and b) a publicly filed lawsuit was somehow not public. We have no idea how the less than learned judge thinks how people and media outlets should react when being told to put the public information back into the barn. He might as well have orders his children to put the toothpaste back into the tube.

Most of all, we have no idea how this judge thinks he can say “the First Amendment doesn’t apply. I am voiding it.” He can certainly tell the parties and their lawyers not to talk about it. He might be able to tell potential witnesses not to talk about the case.

But a third party not associated or connected to the case? Tell them to shut up?

Good luck with that.

It’s this simple. Judge Galasso should review his order and cancel it. Maybe he was having a bad day. Maybe he had a headache. Maybe he thought his order denied Lerner’s ridiculous motion to have Lerner’s name scrubbed from newspapers. People – including judges – make mistakes and Galasso should correct this whopper of a mistake.

If he doesn’t, he should be removed from the bench. That’s all their is to it. If his order wasn’t a mistake, he should be removed from the bench.

Judges who don’t stand up for the Constitution and the law of the land have no business ruling on anything.

Get him out of there.

We are tired of watching the First Amendment die from a thousand cuts inflicted by idiots like Galasso. (The same is true for Lerner and his counsel as well. In our opinion, they too are morons.

Oh, and in case you missed it, the name of the defendant in this case is Eric Lerner.

And to Judge Galasso, we offer our loudest and most disdainful Bronx cheer in your direction.

(h/t to our friend Walter Olsen over at Overlawyered.com for posting about this.)



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