“This is just to show for every kid, no matter how small you think you are, in the end the truth is going to come out. This is to give courage to those people. The top-notch lawyers are coming against you. You feel like you’re just a loner. But justice is going to come out in the end.” – Sam Kellner
Above: Alan Dershowitz, left; Sam Kellner, righ
Sam Kellner was falsely accused of attempting to extort the family of notorious haredi pedophile Rabbi Boruch Lebovits and faced the possibility of serving years in prison until the case against him was dropped last year. Almost every shred of purported evidence against him had been given to the DA by "members of the Lebovits family, their supporters and paid agents," and almost all of that evidence turned out to be false.
The day the charges against Kellner were dropped, the Dershowitz brothers lashed out at Kellner. Alan Dershowitz claimed the DA had a "smoking gun" that would eventually put Kellner in prison - a reference to a discredited and illegally gathered Yiddish audio tape that in fact did nothing to incriminate Kellner. Dershowitz made that claim to the media – a claim Kellner says, likely correctly, is defamatory. Dershowitz's brother Nathan made a similar but less crassly worded claim against Kellner the same day. And now Kellner is suing.
Hella Winston broke the story for the Jewish Week. Here's an excerpt:
…In response to the news of the filing, Alan Dershowitz told The Jewish Week that “[e]verything I said is constitutionally protected speech and advocacy.”
Andrew T. Miltenberg, an attorney who specializes in defamation law, disagrees.
“First, the statement is poor form and I believe, irresponsible,” Miltenberg told The Jewish Week.
“It is not protected by a qualified privilege since there was no pending action at the time of the statement, nor was the statement made in a pleading or otherwise inside a courtroom during a pending action. The statement itself is defamatory,” he continued “as it states that there is evidence that Mr. Kellner committed a crime, notwithstanding the fact that the case against him was dismissed.”
For his part, Nathan Dershowitz, told The Jewish Week that “Mr. Kellner’s filing is frivolous and your reporting such a frivolous claim is bad journalism.” He added that “it will be interesting exploring Kellner’s reputation to see if and how he alleges he has been specifically damaged.”
According to Miltenberg, Kellner would likely assert a claim of what is known as defamation per se, which does not require him to allege special damages. Damages are assumed because he was accused of a crime. That said, Miltenberg told The Jewish Week that, in his view, Nathan Dershowitz’s statement is not defamatory.
As for Kellner, he would not comment on the filing except to say that he is not suing “for financial gain.”
“This is just to show for every kid, no matter how small you think you are, in the end the truth is going to come out,” he said. “This is to give courage to those people. The top-notch lawyers are coming against you. You feel like you’re just a loner. But justice is going to come out in the end.”
Read it all here.