No “Real Malice” in Daily Beast Describing Pennsylvania Judge as “QAnon-Linked”

Being a Judge is a big job. But it comes with downsides. What we do, we do in public, and we expose ourselves to public discussion and criticism of our decisions, fair and unfair. Federalist no. 78 stated the need for Judges to be independent of “the consequences of those evil humours, which are the art of making men, or the influence of particular classes. [that] sometimes it is spread among people.” That is as true today as it was in the 1800’s. Being a judge requires a strong foresight and a willingness to make decisions when criticized, even unfairly, and remember that it is important. and stones may break my bones, but names will not hurt me.

After Judge Paula Patrick issued a controversial ruling regarding a statue of Christopher Columbus in South Philadelphia, she came under scrutiny and criticism. An article in the Daily Beast calls him “QAnon-linked” in its headline. Judge Patrick says this is not true or accurate, so he filed a lawsuit, saying the story is portraying him in a false light. But Judge Patrick has failed to challenge the facts that make it clear that the Daily Beast or its reporter Laura Bradley acted improperly in their reporting. Because Judge Patrick failed to rebut his false claims and admitted that he had nothing further to say, I will dismiss his Amended Complaint with prejudice….

Judge Patrick has served on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas since his appointment in 2003. In 2021, he lost his bid for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the Republican primary. Judge Patrick participated in many events as part of his campaign for the Supreme Court.

Among the development events was a 40-minute video interview on Up Front in the Prophetic with QAnon supporter Prophetess Francine Fodsick. QAnon followers believe, without evidence, that President Trump was elected to defeat a group of cannibals in government. During an interview with Prophetess Francine, Judge Patrick did not deny that he was thinking of going to a conference related to QAnon that year. Judge Patrick’s name later appeared on the list of speakers at the conference, although he did not attend. Judge Patrick denied any link to QAnon in an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Ms. Bradley wrote, and the Daily Beast published, this article, which tells the story of Judge Patrick on the removal of the statue of Christopher Columbus from a Philadelphia park. This article focuses on Judge Patrick’s decision to require the City of Philadelphia to remove the plywood box containing the ordinance. The article also uses a paragraph on the “drama” surrounding Judge Patrick’s alleged QAnon link. It also mentions Judge Patrick’s interview with Prophetess Francine, his inclusion on the speaker list at a QAnon-affiliated conference, and his refusal of any suggestion to attend the conference. Ms. Bradley drew from Pennsylvania news sources to create this Story, including: (1) The Philadelphia Inquirer, (2) CBS Philadelphia, and (3) 6 Action News. They did not conduct independent research or interviews for this Article….

The only thing Judge Patrick wants is a fake secret attack. In Pennsylvania, the allegation that there is a false light “makes a person liable to a person who publishes news that is ‘untrue, grossly offensive to a reasonable person, and is published knowingly or recklessly regardless of its falsity.'” According to my decision. In a previous recusal decision, I focused on whether Judge Patrick committed “actual malice,” which means knowing or ignoring the false…. You see

Judge Patrick’s Amended Complaint includes words like “reckless,” “malicious,” and “knowingly false” in nearly every paragraph, but it lacks facts to support these legal arguments. The Amended Complaint alleges that: 1) Ms. Bradley used other sources, rather than completing her own research, in writing this Article; 2) Judge Patrick denied any association with QAnon in an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer; and 3) Defendants ignored and hid from readers information about Judge Patrick’s QAnon link. None of these principles, individually or collectively, are truly bad.

As a first point, I see that “‘really hate is just watching [the defendants’] thoughts on the truth, not on the truth [the plaintiff].'” Therefore, Judge Patrick’s claims that the Defendants published the Article “to harm Judge Patrick, whose politics are clearly not aligned with the allegations of the Daily Beast” and other similar claims do not show actual malice. Therefore, my focus must be on the harm of the Defendants. on the truth.

First, Ms. Bradley’s reliance on other issues, rather than an independent investigation, is not evidence of actual malice. “[A] Failure to investigate, standing on its own, does not mean that it is really bad” when there is no evidence that the reporter doubted his story. because of doubt.

Judge Patrick says that the stories relied on by Ms. Bradley do not support the claim that Judge Patrick was QAnon-linked. I don’t agree. As Judge Patrick argued in their complaint in federal court, “the correct reading of the April 30, 2021 Inquirer article is that Judge Patrick was connected or had a relationship with Q’Anon.” Judge Patrick argues that the Plaintiffs cannot rely on the Inquirer’s story because it was not linked in the Article. But it is said in the words “[Judge Patrick] told the Inquirer that he doesn’t know why he was appointed speaker.” And Judge Patrick put the April Inquirer story on the case by quoting in his Amended Complaint to support his contention that the Plaintiffs committed actual wrongdoing.

Second, Judge Patrick’s reliance on his rejection of the QAnon link is misplaced. The fact that Judge Patrick declined a QAnon fellowship does not negate his interview with a QAnon sponsor or the fact that he was booked as a speaker at a QAnon-affiliated conference. Nor should his denial have alerted Mrs. Bradley that the Story was, or might be, false. “[T]forces must not accept resistance, even strongly; Such denials are so common in the world of brutal crimes and prosecutions that, by themselves, they do not inform a careful journalist of guilt.”

Third, Judge Patrick’s assertion that the Plaintiffs are undercover does not provide false information regarding “QAnon-linked.” The Amended Complaint alleges that Defendants denied that (a) Judge Patrick denied the QAnon link, (b) he did not attend a QAnon-related event, and (c) the interview occurred during Judge Patrick’s campaign for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. If the Daily Beast had included all of this in the story, it wouldn’t have made the “QAnon-linked” claim false. Judge Patrick interviewed a QAnon supporter, and his name appeared on the list of speakers at a QAnon-affiliated conference. These facts are related to the topic of the article and the discovery of false positives. Maybe the headline wasn’t the best weighting of the argument, but it’s not enough to show the real badness.

It is unclear whether the Defendants objected to Judge Patrick’s claims. The article stated that Judge Patrick “denied that he had planned to attend the QAnon meeting” and that he “did not know why he was booked as a speaker.” What is in those words is that he did not attend the ceremony. The article also said that Judge Patrick “failed to hold a seat on the state Supreme Court earlier this year” although it did not say that the interview was conducted as part of the campaign.

Finally, even when viewed collectively, the actions involved do not rise to the level of actual malice. Read clearly from Judge Patrick, indicating that the Daily Beast and Ms. Bradley did not explain the facts before releasing their story and chose to see the facts which was not favorable to Judge Patrick. It’s cruel, perhaps unnecessarily so. And it is clear that he was involved in journalism. But it does not create the impression that they knew that their description of Judge Patrick was false. It also does not indicate that the Daily Beast and Ms. Bradley stuck their head in the sand with reckless disregard for the truth….

Judge Patrick tried to challenge these charges three times, once in state court and now twice in this Court. They withdrew their complaint in federal court and have failed to state all of their complaints in this court. Additionally, at the hearing I held on April 17, 2023, Judge Patrick’s attorney confirmed that he had stated all that he had in his amended complaint and that, if his statement failed to state what he was saying, there was no reason to. some revisions. Additionally, Defendants request that I dismiss with prejudice, and Judge Patrick does not respond or request leave to amend. Therefore, I will dismiss Judge Patrick’s complaint with prejudice….

Thanks to Kaitlin Gurney, Leslie Minora & Seth Berlin (Ballard Spahr LLP), who represent the defendants.

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