Monthly Archives: January 2013

Hung Jury in Sarah Jones’ Defamation Case

Former Ben-Gal Sarah Jones

Former Ben-Gal Sarah Jones

The jury deadlocked after their second day of deliberation in the former Bengal cheerleader Sarah Jones’ defamation case against and it’s owner, Nik Richie. According to, the jury was 9-1 in Jones’ favor, though this would only indicate liability, not what amount would be awarded. I have previously speculated that even if TheDirty is found liable, the 11 million dollars requested seems exhorbitant. Jones’ attorney, Eric Deters, has previoiusly indicated he would try the case again if the jury deadlocked. The results of this trial will have little to no bearing on any retrial of the case.

Two of Casey Anthony’s Convictions Overturned

Two of the four convictions Ms. Anthony received for lying to police have been thrown out for double jeopardy. The Courts ruled that the state could not convict someone of multiple statements during the same interrogation. Thus the court rejected the theory argued by prosecutor Jeff Ashton in his book, and again by the appellate counsel. The Court also rejected the Defense argument that the interview was single episode. The 5th District Court found that since there were separate interviews, with a significant temporal break between them, that constituted two separate occasions of giving false information. The Court upheld two convictions, and threw out the other two. This doesn’t have a major impact for Ms. Anthony, as she has already served her time for those misdemeanor offenses.

Also, Crimcourts got a chance to watch the movie about Miss Anthony’s case, Prosecuting Casey Anthony, which was based on Jeff Ashton’s book. It was not as one-sided as I was afraid, being based on the prosecutor’s book. Rob Lowe was fine as Ashton, though I have come accustomed to his comedic roles. Oscar Nunez (Oscar from the office) was excellent as Anthony’s attorney Jose Baez… perhaps too polished for Mr. Baez. The movie didn’t capture the tension the case carried in the courtroom. It did show that there was some ambiguity in the evidence but, true to life, Mr. Ashton had his prosecution blinders on. It’s probably only worth watching if you followed the case closely.

Crazy, Naked Guy Freakout in North Fort Myers – Best 911 Call Ever

The story of the naked-man freak out in North Fort Myers (which is very near my neighborhood) made some national news the other day. Gregory Bruni stripped down, ran around on a family’s roof, ran inside freaking out, and was held at gunpoint until the police came. He dumped over a TV, pooped on the floor, and rubbed clothing on himself. At that point, he began pleasuring himself. The police had to taser him when they arrived. 

The 911 call from the incident has now been released, and you can hear it on This guy clearly has some mental health issues, and hasn’t even been booked in because he was taken to the hospital. I commend the deputies for recognizing his mental health issues. They suspect he was high on something, but have not determined what it was. This guy was bath salts-level crazy. He will be charged with Burglary, Criminal Mischief, Battery, and Resisting an Officer. There may be a proof problem, if he was so crazy as to not understand what was going on. He potentially could argue insanity. It sounds like this guy needs help more than he needs jail, I was unable to find any prior record on him here or in Sarasota County where he apparently is from. Go listen to the 911 call on the link. Only in Florida.

Sarah Jones’ Defamation Case Goes to Jury – UPDATE

Sarah Jones

Sarah Jones

The jury is now deliberating whether is liable for defamation for the posts about her. She is seeking $11 million in damages. The jury could be back this afternoon, or it could continue late this evening or even another day.

UPDATE: The jury has not reached a verdict today, and has broken for the night. They will be back to deliberate tomrrow:

Paul Bergerin Trial Underway

New Jersey attorney Paul Bergrin’s second trial for murder, plus racketeering and other charges, is underway. Mr. Bergrin continues to represent himself, and vehemently denied the charges in his opening statement. The prosecutor had gotten the new judge on the case to try 26 counts at the same time, and came out firing in his opening statement, as well. He is alleging that Bergrin was using his practice as a racketeering enterprise, and calls Bergrin a “drug dealer, a pimp, and a murderer.” The primary charges are for murder, alleging that Mr. Bergrin arranged for hits on key witnesses against his clients. He also allegedly was involved in drug trafficking and running a call-girl ring.

Sarah Jones’s Civil Trial Continues

Former Ben-Gal Sarah Jones

Former Ben-Gal Sarah Jones blogger known as Nik Richie testified today, as did Ms. Jones. Regardless whether he is liable for the comments of others, Ms. Jones will have a difficult time proving damages, as today she testified that she did not lose either job after the post was made. She is almost certainly a public figure, providing Mr. Richie more leeway for commentary, and a higher burden on her to prove her case. Also, she could come across as greedy for asking for 11 million dollars. She may be entitled to some money for the harm to her reputation, but not 11 million dollars. This case is essentially unrelated to her criminal case for sleeping with her student.

The Voice of ‘Charlie Brown’ is Facing Felony Stalking Charges

Sadly, the first thing that popped into my mind when I heard that the man who had voiced Charlie Brown in several of the classic TV specials had been arrested for stalking was, “Was it the little red-haired girl?” What a horrible thing to think, and no, it was not even a romantic-related stalking issue. He is charged with threatening a police office, a doctor, and two others with death. So far, there are not many more details available. Weird.

More Marijuana News, Federal Court Declines to Reclassify Marijuana

Wacky Tobacky

Wacky Tobacky

A Federal Court ruled today that they were not going to order reclassification of Marijuana from its current Class-1 status. The classification decision is handled by the DEA, not the courts, and the court can only overturn that decision if it is “arbitrary and capricious”. That’s a very low standard for the government, the basically only have to show some reasonable facts to support their decision: the decision does not have to be correct.

Marijuana Criminal Law Story in This Week’s Florida Weekly

The Reefer

The Reefer

If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend you check out the cover story in this week’s Florida Weekly, by Evan Williams. It talks about the ramifications of marijuana prosecution in Florida, and the status of legistlative efforts to legalize it. The take away I’d like everyone to appreciate is the harsh sanctions for possession of marijuana. The defendant in the primary case discussed is looking at a 3-year minimum mandatory sentence. His case is not merely possession, but possession with intent within 1000 feet of a school or church. He claims that there was no intent to distribute, but the facts against him are that he had 11 pounds of marijuana: which is an awful lot for personal use (plus scales and a lot of cash). But everyone should realize that even personal-use possession of 20 grams (that’s less than an ounce) is a felony in Florida. And any marijuana possession can lead to jail time plus a 2-year driver’s license suspension.

Sarah Jones, Former Bengal Cheerleader, Defemation Trial to Begin Today

Former Bengal Cheerleader Sarah Jones

Former Bengal Cheerleader Sarah Jones

Former Ben-Gal Sarah Jones, who earlier entered a guilty plea in her criminal case, is going to trial this week on a civil case: for defamation. Her earlier case was covered extensively by Crimcourts. The defamation case actually predates her criminal case, going back a few years to come things posted on website On that site, she was accused of several things she disputes, including sleeping with one or more Cincinnati Bengals, contracting STDs from her former boyfriend, and having sex with a man in her classroom.

The case is interesting from a defamation standpoint. She is suing the website, and its owner ‘Nik Richie’, for making statements that harmed her reputation. The legal twist is that most of the offending comments were not generated by Richie, but by commenters on the website. Generally, websites are not responsible for content posted by others. That’s why Facebook doesn’t get sued every time anybody posts something libelous. However, Jones is claiming that since TheDirty exercises editorial control over the comments, that they are more akin to a newspaper that publishes defamatory statements. Richie counters that the only thing he personally posted is that she is a ‘freak’ in bed, and is claiming truth as a defense. To back it up, the defense is prepared to share some of the steamy text messages from Jones’ criminal case.

As a blogger, I hope that Richie is not found liable for the comments of others. TheDirty is probably going to see a surge of hits thanks to publicity for this trial: Crimcourts has already seen a surge thanks to our coverage of the earlier case. I am not a fan of Richie’s site, but I don’t think he should take an 11 million dollar hit for outside commenters. Even if liable, Jones will have difficulty proving damages. She already hurt her reputation immensely due to the illegal relationship she had with her student. She’s claiming this caused her to resign her job, but she was teaching until charges were brought in her criminal case. She has indicated an interest in law school, so she may end up earning more there than she would have in her teaching job anyway. I wish her luck as she pursues her law degree, and she is not likely to win retirement money in this suit.