Court dismisses St. Martinville mayor's slander suit over news a - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Court dismisses St. Martinville mayor's slander suit over news article

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Thomas Nelson photo courtesy city of St. Martinville website Thomas Nelson photo courtesy city of St. Martinville website

A state judge has granted a motion to dismiss St. Martinville Mayor Thomas Nelson’s claims that accused one of his constituents, Espinola Quinn, of slander for comments she made to the Washington Post.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, who represented Quinn in the litigation, called the lawsuit an attack on free speech designed to silence the Mayor’s critics and punish dissent.

The mayor referred us to his attorney; we've reached out to Nelson's lawyer but haven't heard back from him yet. 

“Espinola Quinn exercised her First Amendment right to speak to a reporter regarding a matter of public concern—and for that she was slapped with a frivolous lawsuit and dragged into court by her own mayor," said ACLU of Louisiana staff attorney Bruce Hamilton. "The Mayor’s motion to dismiss his groundless claims indicates that he may have come to his senses, but not before subjecting Espinola to the unnecessary stress and cost of a frivolous lawsuit. We live in a democracy, not a dictatorship. Public officials are supposed to serve their constituents, not use the courts to bully and silence them.”

Quinn talked about the mayor in an interview with the Washington Post.

“It was important for me to set an example to my children and grandchild about standing up and speaking up for the right thing in the face of so called giants in today’s culture," Quinn said. 

The article was posted in June, and examined rural Americans’ views of race. The article focused on St. Martinville, Louisiana, and it included comments by residents Nelson. Quinn, a prominent town resident who campaigned for clerk of court, was featured prominently in the article, in which she made comments critical of the mayor.

A couple of weeks later, Nelson filed a lawsuit against a local woman, accusing her of slandering him. To read our story about the lawsuit, click here

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