Not just, but close enough.
The Hulk Hogan case was a carefully contrived ambush against a powerful and utterly reckless New York City blog that had become so arrogant that it casually published stolen nude photos and sex tapes while sneering at the idea of a lawsuit.
While the New York Times’ trial performance was mediocre, it didn’t compare to this spectacular moment from the Gawker/Hulk Hogan case.
A.J. Daulerio, 41, was sitting ramrod straight in the Florida courtroom during the awkward moment when he was asked on video by Hogan’s lawyer, “Can you imagine a situation where a celebrity sex tape would not be newsworthy?”
Daulerio answered flatly, “If they were a child.”
“Under what age?” attorney Charles Harder asked.
“Four,” he said.
“No four-year-old sex tapes, OK,” Harder said.
I don’t know if this is a case of lawyers failing to prep him or arrogance so extreme that he assumed that he could just bring internet snark into a jury trial and make jokes about child sex tapes… and not get crushed by a local jury.
But that’s how that ended.
Geography was ultimately the key difference. The Gawker/Hogan trial, Bollea v. Gawker was fought in Pinellas County, Florida. After an initial attempt at going to a federal court, in front of a fed judge who had also cold-bloodedly presided over Terri Schiavo’s murder, the case was taken to a state court, whose jurisdiction Gawker chose to ridicule.
The odds of Palin v. New York Times Co. ending any other way than it did were minuscule. This was a federal case, in New York City, in front of a Democrat judge who predictably intervened, and falsely claimed that despite the extensive arguments about the original smear when it was first made, there was no evidence that the hometown paper knew it was lying.
What a jury might have decided is largely irrelevant, but this kind of case was never going to succeed in a U.S. District Court.
Had the Gawker case taken place under the same circumstances, it would have ended the same way.
Geography and jurisdiction are vital to any legal battle. Knowing your territory and choosing your battlefield.
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