Minnesota Court of Appeals protects a blogger’s right to tell the truth

August 20, 2012

This morning, the Minnesota Court of Appeals released a decision that wisely protects bloggers’ rights to tell the truth, particularly on matters of public concern.

The case, Moore v. Hoff, involved a long-simmering Minneapolis dispute between John Hoff, who writes a blog titled “The Adventures of Johnny Northside,” and Jerry L. Moore, who worked in the University of Minnesota’s Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center.

Hoff made a blog post that Moore claimed were defamatory, and in turn Moore claimed that his termination from the university was linked to the allegedly false post.  Moore sued Hoff for defamation but also for interfering with his business relations.  A jury found that the posts were not false but nevertheless found interference with business relations.

But the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed the jury verdict, ruling that a claim based on interference with business relations must involve a falsity, not a truth.  The court further explained that the communication involved matters of public concern in North Minneapolis.

Minnesota online communicators should be heartened by this holding, which affirms bloggers’ places in the media marketplace.


One Response to “Minnesota Court of Appeals protects a blogger’s right to tell the truth”

  1. Dave T Says:

    Congratulations to John Hoff on having his judgment reversed. I am certain he is relieved. The Minnesota Court of Appeals clearly had to balance constitutional protections against the claims of the Plaintiff.
    But to know this case, you really have to understand what the jury heard. And that was that John Hoff was a sadistic predator that had a documented 10+ year history of using the internet, blogs, online forums and groups, and print media to harass intimidate, degrade, threaten, and victimize people he didn’t like or had a disagreement with. John Hoff made a name for himself in his north Minneapolis community by writing a blog under the name “Johnny Northside”. Early articles centered on absentee landlords who neglected their rental properties. Hoff tried to look like a hero by posting photos of him boarding up vacant houses until city officials told him to stop. He then went on to target any property owner with code violations, or that had “criminals” living at that address, posting photos of the property and mug shots of the residents. He would also “stake out” certain homes and photograph the people as they came and went. Hoff used, and still uses the Internet to cyber stalk people by searching social media to learn where they live, work, and play then he makes their lives a living hell. He will send messages and emails to his victim’s friends and family spreading defamatory information. He will publish derogatory (and sometimes false) blog posts claiming to have obtained the information from “confidential” sources he refuses to name. And if Hoff doesn’t get satisfaction from attacking his victim, he will write offensive blog posts about his victim’s friends and family in an attempt to have those friends alienate his victim.
    To hear or read about Hoff’s history of abuse makes you wonder why he hasn’t been arrested or sued previously. The lengths that John Hoff takes to victimize people are absolutely astounding. What is even more mind boggling is that Hoff firmly believes he has the right to harass and intimidate people because his blogging is free speech, protected by the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution.
    What John Hoff did to Jerry Moore, the Plaintiff in this case, was accomplished in typical John Hoff fashion. He was not providing a “public service” (as he claimed during trial) in informing the University of Minnesota about some irregularities in Mr. Moore’s background, rather he was making a malicious attempt to make Moore’s life miserable by getting him fired from his new position at the University. And just to make sure officials at the University took the information seriously, he threatened to blackmail the UofM by informing them that if they didn’t fire Mr. Moore, Hoff would publish a series of negative articles about the University. Moore was fired with days.
    The only reason this case was reversed was because Hoff was involved with a co-conspirator and defendant, Donald Allen (who settled prior to trial), and their actions were so closely entwined that they could not be separated.
    The problem with this reversal by the Minnesota Court of Appeals is that now Hoff believes he has an unlimited license to harass people under protection of the 1st Amendment.
    The very first thing he did after blogging about his “colossal win” was to send an intimidating email to his nemesis, Jim Watkins, who writes an “Anti-Johnny” blog, threatening to continue writing about his acquaintances: http://misadventuresofjohnnynorthside.blogspot.com/2012/08/moore-v-hoff-minnesota-appeals-court.html

    In an interesting turn of events, John Hoff the self-proclaimed neighborhood revitalizer who reports his neighbors for housing code violations has been hit with administrative orders and could face fines from the City of Minneapolis to bring his house up to code.
    When he bought the home on 26th & Bryant Avenue North in 2008 it didn’t have a functioning furnace or water heater, and was missing considerable plumbing. Without obtaining the required building permits he made unauthorized repairs to the home which he now rents out without the required rental license.
    Recently, the City of Minneapolis issued orders to have the house brought up to code and to be in compliance with the Truth in Housing report filed before he bought the house. His failure to bring o up to code will result in fines, and possible condemnation.
    Currently, Hoff is an absentee slumlord renting out his out-of-compliance house to two people he calls “roommates”, even though he hasn’t lived in the house for over one year. According to Hoff’s neighbors they have not seen his in months, some claiming the only people seen around the house have been his two renters.

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