Sunday, March 13, 2011

Will Brad Childress Use Moore v. Hoff Ruling?

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, photo from www.firechilly.com.

I'm obviously no legal expert, but I've been struggling to understand the difference between what John Hoff did in regards to Jerry Moore when compared to how sports fans across the country express dissatisfaction with coaches or teams.  It seems that one statement from JNS may have had an impact on the jury, in which John Hoff takes credit for getting Jerry Moore fired (whether Hoff actually had that impact or whether the decision to terminate Moore's contract was made without influence from the Johnny Northside blog has not been established).  Moore's lawyer Jill Clark said that indicated a step beyond "speech" and crossed over into "action."

Well, firechilly.com and other similar sites all lobbied openly for the Vikings to terminate Brad Childress' contract.  And then when that did happen, site operators took credit for their supposed accomplishment.  www.givechildresstheboot.com says, "We did it!  We have officially (unofficially) accomplished our goal of being the FIRST site to use social media to have a professional head coach fired."  Uh oh, seems like speech and action to me.

On the various anti-Childress sites, what we see appears to be quite similar to the Moore/Hoff standoff.  People discussed facts (The Vikings were losing games, the Randy Moss debacle was mishandled) and opinions (whole sites dedicated to expressing dissatisfaction with or personal dislike of a public figure) with the goal of getting Brad Childress fired.  Chilly had a pretty hefty contract, so if the jury's ruling in the Moore/Hoff case is not overturned on appeal, then sports fans who lobby for the firing of a coach better be prepared to cover millions in lost pay, future earnings, or emotional damages.

If, from a legal perspective, I'm way off base here, please educate me.

24 comments:

  1. Ok, lets start with subordination. Childress released a high profile player WITHOUT talking to the owner or the team GM. That alone could have supported the firing (above and beyond the losing record after being within an interception from a Super Bowl).
    Next, lets talk about the damages.
    When Moore was fired, his pay checks stopped. When Childress was fired, his pay checks continued and won't stop until the contract expires. Still having a hard time understanding?

    Moore lost thousands when he was fired. Childress continues to make millions after he was fired. M-I-L-L-I-O-N-S!

    Lets make believe (some of the northside bloggers do that well) that Childress' salary stopped when he was fired. If that had been the case, then it makes a little sense if Childress decided to sue those wanted him fired. Who would Childress actually blame? The list of people would include the fans, football analysts, websites and reporters to name a few.
    When Moore was fired, there was only Johnny Northside taking credit. Still having a hard time understanding?

    But wait! You say that Johnny was telling the truth! Yes, Johnny was telling the truth about Moore being involved in a deal where fraud was discovered. Two people went to jail. Moore did not go to jail. Moore was not charged. That means that whoever investigated the case felt that Moore's involvement was not fraudulent.
    However, Johnny Northside (who is NOT a real estate expert OR a law enforcement expert) felt that Moore was guilty because of the association with those who were found guilty. Actually, slamming someone by associating them with someone else who has been in legal trouble is among Johhny Northside's favorite weapons.

    Are you STILL having a hard time understanding the difference?

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  2. Ah yes, guaranteed contracts. Forgot about that one. Well, not every sport or every contract is going to have guaranteed money or buyouts. But in this case, you are correct that we can in our hypothetical example, throw out current lost income. There's still the problem of a harmed reputation, resulting in the loss of potential future income. And we're also still left with the blurry line between speech and action that was brought up in this case.

    Your reasoning, anon 5:44, that the current lack of charges equates innocence, doesn't follow. First, what the investigator felt and what a prosecutor does with that information are two different things. We've also got the problem that Jerry Moore's explanation about the $5,000 check he apparently received from the 1564 Hillside deal has not been a consistent explanation.

    John Hoff certainly was, as the Strib put it, "bombastic" regarding Moore's involvement at 1564 Hillside. But let's take a slightly more dispassionate view over here on NXNS. Here's someone who benefited from a high-profile fraudulent mortgage transaction. Even if the $5,000 was earned by honest work Moore did, it was still garnered from a stolen identity and inflated appraisal.

    Then Moore gets a job with a public institution serving the very same community that has been besieged by such fraud. His job? Researching mortgage issues. Even if Moore is innocent, the question of his involvement at 1564 Hillside becomes a public concern in relation to that job. Moore can defend himself or his employer can stand up for him, but the question is still a valid one.

    You made one very salient point, anon 5:44, but there are still problems with this particular ruling as I see it.

    Finally, a note in general: Most of the time, I would not publish a comment that stated "slamming someone by associating them with someone else who has been in legal trouble is among Johnny Northside's favorite weapons," especially because that comment did not reference a specific post or JNS topic. Obviously if there's going to be a robust discussion, my comment moderation will be relaxed somewhat on this topic. Still, this is a reminder to keep criticisms at least relatively civil and ideally backed up with facts.

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  3. Take a look at the emotional stress aspect and consider Westboro Baptist Church winning the Supreme Court case for right to protest military funerals. The protests were disgusting BUT in an 8-1 decision the church protests were protected by the 1st Amendment. Like Hoff, the church initially LOST, but WON in the end.

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  4. Did the employer ever say why Moore was fired?

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  5. Yes, the employer said Moore was fired because his temporary position had come to and end and the needs for assistance had changed. The employer gave Moore a 10 day notice and urged him to check the other job postings at the U.

    Keep in mind that Hoff wrote on his blog that this issue of Moore working at the U had come up about a week prior and Hoff did not write about it until Sunday 6/21. Moore received termination letter on Monday 6/22. With that timing it would seem to me that it was not Hoff's writing about the issue that brought it to the U's attention, but rather whatever behind the scenes happenings that were taking place, as Hoff alludes to in his blog postings. That certainly wasn't Hoff's actions.

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  6. I expect the verdict to be overturned by the trial judge.

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  7. I would assume Jerry's next step is to sue the City Pages... could an argument could be made that their coverage was a contributing factor towards Jerry losing his job at Wells Fargo?

    And General McCrystal probably should sue Rolling Stone, as their profile directly led to him losing his command.

    And Van Jones and NPR's Ron Schiller look to have very strong cases after Fox News reports led to them losing their jobs.

    And don't forget Charlie Sheen! If it hadn't been for the media reporting every crazed, possibly chemically fueled thing spewing out of his mouth, CBS never would have had reason to terminate his contract.

    Get out your checkbooks!

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  8. Anon 11:42, what about Nixon? His sterling reputation would be untarnished still if not for those meddling reporters at the WAPO. Is Pat still alive? Maybe she could/should sue, too.

    On another note, I'm really interested in the makeup of this jury. Anyone have any info on that?

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  9. There is the fact that NONE of us actually sat in the courtroom for the entire trial. There were seven jurors and they ALL agreed on the final verdict. Why can't people give them the benefit of the doubt that they must have had SOMETHING stand out in their minds that caused them to reach the decision they did.
    I did find it interesting that none of them would comment. If I was a juror for a case like this, I wouldn't want my name in the papers for others to give their opinions about.
    To anon 1:36,
    JNS had a post that tallked about the jurors that were dismissed.

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  10. The 7 jurors in no particular order,ages a guess by me:

    -female, white, lunch lady for MPS, approx 60 y/o

    - female, blakc, patient advocate for Allina, approx 25 y/o

    - female, white, trains financial advisors how to sell annuities to their clients, approx 35 y/o

    - female, white, asst real estate facilities mgr for General dynamcis, approx 30 y/o

    - male, white, construction foreman, approx 35 y/o

    - male, white, retired insurance salesman for Lutheran Brotherhood, approx 68 y/o

    - male, cuban, MBA foreign trade advisor for Cargill


    A fairly educated and financially astute jury. I can not for the life of me figure out how they figure a mortgage fraudster who punches community members deserves to be compensated for losing his job when the truth about his nefarious past gets back to his employer. And there is no way JNS postings caused him to lose his job, that word had reached the U prior to the JNS 6/21/09 post and things were in the works well before 6/22/09 termination date.

    It will be easy for JNS and lawyers to prove it was not the coverage on 6/21/09 that caused the termination, but rather Jerry's own past doings that caused it. I bet he lied on job apps, too. Been arrested (domestic violence charges in January 2009) Been convicted of a crime? Driving on suspended license, suspended for not paying child support etc. I bet he also lied about his employment history with JACC.

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  11. I am a little new to all this, observing from the outside, in Anoka County.

    First out of a strong follow-the-money curiiosity, was there ever a clear and final and accurate to the penny accounting of where JACC money went, over time, up to the present, i.e., including all the new board and executive people? What cash flowed in when, from whom, what flowed out, when, to whom?

    That seems fundamental. In all the litigation and public commentary, did it happen? If not, is there any online source explaining why not?

    AND -- Is that now a non-issue? As to questioning public money going to Moore?

    Next, Childress worked for the Wilf family.

    Through an intermediate corporation or two, but all private sector.

    This Moore thing was with the U.

    A government job.

    Don't taxpayers have a right to question how tax money gets spent? They do it a bit out here in Anoka County.

    Doesn't every resident of the neighborhood, Hoff included, Moore included, have a right to express an opinion over how public dollars are spent? To challenge detail over seemingly wise or unwise expenditure of public cash?

    What's that "interference" part of the lawsuit except questioning how public dollars are spent? That's what I am having a very hard time seeing.

    Jeff, I'd suggest a different analogy.

    People contacting the Wilf family or publsihing about how good/bad a job Childress was doing, his strengths, his weaknesses, his history in Philadelphia - isn't all that the Wilf's business?

    BUT -- spending money on a new stadium, public dollars, would Zigy be in any righteous position suing a citizen who spoke out against public dollars going to make Zigy wealthier that way?

    If Zigy had a contract or an expectancy, say with the dome major domo people, managing it, and public dollars were to go not only to repair the roof but to upgrade things like luxury boxes, and Zigy had worked it to a contract and then Hoff complained -- would Hoff be liable at law for interference with a contract? To Zigy's detriment. When he did not in any way defame Zigy or dome people, and a jury says he never misstated any fact but spoke truthfully in all relevant ways?

    Just wondering.

    Don't forget, Hoff was looking at expenditure of public money, and what he viewed, genuinely, as a compromise of public integrity along with waste.

    He's supposed to shut up, grin, and bear it?

    Get real.

    The jury was swayed by passion and prejudice. Jill Clark did her job. Mooore and Clark wanteda jury trial, not a bench trial. You can guess why.

    It was not a consistent reasoned jury verdict decision. At least from reading the reporting. I was NOT there.

    Who says the verdict was consistent, and will put his/her name behind that contention, beyond Jerry Moore and Jill Clark, who both must be overjoyed.

    Like or dislike Don Allen, he settled to where he no longer had any risk and then went in and testified against Hoff for which some may blame him, but when he commented he did so publicly, not saying, "Don't use my name."

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  12. Wondering some more.

    For that government job Moore had, cash from the U.

    Was any written contract for Moore put into evidence?

    Was there one?

    What was his pay rate per hour, or salary?

    Did he produce time sheets as evidence?

    Who hired him, who committed the public's money to Jerry Moore?

    President Bruninks?

    Or a lesser official?

    Who? Who signed off on hiring Jerry Moore for anything at UROC?

    Who signed his paychecks? What supervision did that person, or subordinates exercise?

    Did Moore submit a job applicaiton? If so, what did he put in writing under his signature regarding his last job?

    Was the job advertised and was Moore the only interview? Is there a paper trail of any kind, and was one in evidence?

    In effect, was it a real job, or an arrangement?

    There should be a way citizens could determine that, public data law and all, it is public data afterall, and there is that law;

    https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?view=part&start=13&close=13C

    The legislature passed that legislation for a reason. As a quick guess, accountability would be the first thing that comes to my mind.

    Moore reported to somebody? If not Bruninks, who?

    Etc. It's your community so you guys work it out. I don't have any meat in that fire. No dog in that race.

    But use what you've got to pin down a truth or two. Public Data. An important concept.

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  13. Last comment Jeff, sorry, I guess I am wrong.

    I overlooked one key problem.

    The public data law has a big exception you can drive a truck through.

    Personnel matters are privileged.

    Go figure. It should not be, but it is.

    Whether the job was posted and advertised, that should be discoverable by members of the public, now. For the rest, I expect disclosure would be opposed by UROC, and under the law, if disclosure were not denied and they did not protect privacy, Moore might have cause to sue them.

    However, for litigation, there is discovery.

    If Godfread had not come in so late in the thing, after close of discovery on the case calendar I'd guess, the proof might have been different.

    The actual legitimacy of Moore's UROC job would be discoverable, all aspects.

    If for any reason a mistrial is declared, so that a new trial would be started, that might be the opportunity for Hoff to get such discovery.

    The trial judge has discretion, even with this verdict - indeed particularly since it says Hoff said nothing false, but Moore was awarded money anyway.

    Moore was awarded money when Hoff was questioning public spending and public responsibility and public decision making - his June 23 post questioned personnel make-up of UROC beyond Moore - and a new agency is only as good as the people in it. So, if you genuinely believe it's not all it could be, what's your options - beyond ineffective grumbling over the dinner table?

    I think the award to Moore SHOULD be overturned by the trial judge, as within her discretion.

    But I say that from the outside. She was there for every word, with the jury present, with the jury absent when law was argued, and she observed demeanor of each and every witness.

    What the judge does, where affirming jury verdict results is the overwhelming norm, will be interesting.

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  14. I think John's biggest problem was that he engenders in people an almost visceral hatred. Some people love him, but there are others who get physically ill at the sight of him.

    I think these jurors fell into the latter category. I don't think they were right on the law, but they just wanted to see JNS punished for being JNS.

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  15. No Anonymous 6:08, you aren't even close as far as saying most people hate him. You have absolutely no way of taking a measurement of who hates him, who loves him or who could care less.

    I could say the same thing about Jerry Moore. I know people who get physically sick at the sight of him, the same blue blazer day after day, coming to community meetings like he should have a place at the table. He STEALS from this community. He pretends he lives here and then gets busted when he has court documents signing his address as Hopkins. He is a CRIMINAL. And I can write that here because Jeff can not be held liable for comments on his blog.


    Obviously the people around you are going to be similar minded to you and therefore you have a biased pool you are estimating from. Nice try though.

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  16. If Godfried had been a good attorney, he would have asked for a directed verdict prior to the matter going to the jury for deliberation, but clearly this Ole was not! As anyone knows who has been in a Courtroom, many times the Judge in a bench trial, or a jury, as in this case, does not like one of the parties and/or their attorney. They will find a way to rule against that party, no matter what the truth is. That is why we have the appeals process - to weed out these incorrect and emotional decisions!

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  17. 653,

    I don't disagree with anything you are saying. 99.9% of the people in the world might love JNS. But it is obvious that the members of this jury didn't. Just look at the results.

    I'm not saying this because I like the results, either. I think it is wrong. But to say that JNS doesn't irritate regular non-slumlord/L3SO's is demonstrably false. People have set up face book pages going attacking him, which long predate his NoMi activities.

    I think this is the best explanation for the jury's verdict. I'm not trying to attack or defend JNS (although I must admit to having some admiration for him). I'm merely trying to have a rational discussion about why the verdict came down the way it did.

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  18. Anon 3:36, you're right...an educated and financially savvy mix. The only explanation for such a silly verdict is either:
    1 they were given some funky instructions from the judge
    2 they lack an ethical foundation that tells them that the window payout was payola
    3 are not familiar with the process of critical thinking (I've known college graduates that were absent that day.)
    4 they voted the party-line to expiate white guilt or stand up for a brotha, as the case may be.

    Based on the JNS blog entry 6-21-09, I wouldn't be surprised if there's not a heaping helping of scenarios 2-4 above involved in the hiring of Mr. Moore at the U.

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  19. March 13, 2011 6:08 PM I would agree with you for the most part. Jeff called the jury decision a questionable verdict. The question is how big of an asshole did the jury think John Hoff was.
    The answer: a $60,000 asshole.
    I think it's pretty clear the jury didn't like Hoff, and sent a pretty clear message to him, and only him.
    I'd suspect that the rest of the blogosphere can relax.
    And for those of you that might call that illegal, it is very legal and civil juries do it all the time.

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  20. I just enjoy writing this stirring sentence SO MUCH:

    Repeated and specific evidence in Hennepin County District Court shows Jerry Moore was involved with a high-profile fraudulent mortgage at 1564 Hillside Ave. N.

    One sentence. One beautiful, perfect sentence that withstood a five day jury trial, and three calender years (more than 600 days) in court.

    REPEATED.

    AND SPECIFIC.

    EVIDENCE.

    Etc.

    Etc.

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  21. Pretty shaky analogy presented here - but I get your point.

    Supposedly the jury agreed with Clark's claim that Hoff had committed "tortious interference" by meddling with Moore's employment.

    Tortious interference, also known as Intentional interference with contractual relations, in the common law of tort, occurs when a person intentionally damages the plaintiff's contractual or other business relationships. This tort is broadly divided into two categories, one specific to contractual relationships (irrespective of whether they involve business), and the other specific to business relationships or activities (irrespective of whether they involve a contract).

    But the U claimed that Moore was let go because the obligations of the contract had been fulfilled.

    So...How could comments made on the blog be construed as interfering with Moore's business relationship. Further, what exactly is Jerry Moore's "profession or area of expertise"? And how can the comments made be measured as a detriment to that career?

    Did Jerry get his feeling hurt over the facts coming to light?

    Sure...But it's not like anybody hit him! ;)

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  22. John,

    "Involved" doesn't have anything to do with culpability. The notary who notarized the documents was "involved" in the fraudulent mortgage but didn't do anything wrong.

    The same is true here. Just because the jury found that sentence to not be false doesn't mean they thought he was some sort of mortgage fraudster.

    On the other hand, the thought that whatever you did resulted in a debt to Moore of 60K.

    Don't gloat too much.

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  23. Anon 8:51, I disagree on at least two levels regarding your notion of involvement and culpability. First, in most mortgage transactions, the closer at the title company is also the notary. And in many fraudulent mortgage transactions, the title company is complicit in the fraud. So your specific example in regards to a notary at 1564 Hillside doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

    Second, in 1564 Hillside, we had a stolen identity, a property in disrepair with an inflated value, and Larry Maxwell's "Gill Construction" on the settlement statement, receiving funds for work that was never done. And there's the check cut to Jerry Moore. (or was it a consulting business in his name that was the recipient?)

    But let's at least take your example and find an innocent party, like the city inspector who worked on TISH or code compliance documents, or the Hennepin County recorder who filed (what he or she thought were) the appropriate chain of ownership documents. People in these roles did their job and were likely not compensated above what would have been normal for such a service.

    Moore, on the other hand, allegedly received $5,000 for...what, exactly? If it was for work done at the property, it's pretty clear that did not happen. If it was for work done on the mortgage itself, or for some kind of referral fee, $5,000 seems far above normal compensation for such things - even in the heyday of the mortgage boom.

    Of course, if he did receive this money and it was for honest work and he just got caught up in the wrong deal with a bunch of very bad people, he's had several years to come clean on what happened.

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  24. The TISH inspector, the county recorder, the notary of the documents (assuming it was just a notary and not someone complicit as Jeff points out) would all gladly give a full fledged clear explanation of how and why their name showed up in regards to this 1564 transaction. That is not the case with Jerry Moore. A check was cut to Jerry Moore (with a memo for: J.L. Moore Consulting) in the amount of $5,000.

    Jerry refused for several years to give Jordan residents and the 5th ward city council person an explanation, telling people to "mind their business" "why are you worried about that" "we have bigger problems to focus on"

    Then in 2009 he testified in court he had never seen the check or invoice.

    Now in 2011 he testified in court that not only had he never seen them, but perhaps his business partner who fled the state had some kind of involvement. Laura Pigot. Without offering a full fledged explanation, Jerry and his attorney carefully beat around the bush implying that this whole deal was put together with fabricated documents so it's no wonder if this invoice and check were fabricated and Jerry's identity was used (stolen) as well.

    Jerry was asked if he ever made any kind of police report that his identity was stolen. No. He offered some half hearted statement of getting his social security # changed. When asked to confirm that he changed his SS3 he retracted, saying he had it "flagged" for fraud.

    So, when the bank records are subpoenaed and it is discovered that this check was cashed by Jerry Moore, what will he say then?

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