Virginia Supreme Court rejects trooper’s appeal, ending her defamation claim A Virginia State Trooper has lost her appeal of a lawsuit in which she accused a former Mechanicsville man of defamation. The Virginia Supreme Court refused Trooper Melanie McKenney’s petition for appeal in her $1.35 million lawsuit against Nathan Cox, ending a protracted legal dispute.
“Constitutional Liberties Matter! I didn’t think a police officer would silence criticism using a lawsuit – but that didn’t seem to stop one from filing a $1.35 Million lawsuit. If not for a Virginia civil rights law firm standing up and protecting the liberties guaranteed by the 1st Amendment, the suit would have silenced one
For those who’ve been following the Civil Lawsuit Saga that I have been dealing with, in which Virginia State Trooper Melanie McKenney filed a defamation suit against me which all transpired from a traffic stop she initiated back in 2012 – I have your most recent update! September 8th, of this 2016, my attorney Jonathan
President-elect Trump recently alleged massive voter fraud in a number of states, including Virginia, where democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe restored voting rights for more than 67,000 former felons ahead of the November election. While many republicans criticized the move as a blatant attempt to secure votes for his long-time pal, Hillary Clinton, many others praised
Virginia Supreme Court rejects trooper’s appeal, ending her defamation claim
A Virginia State Trooper has lost her appeal of a lawsuit in which she accused a former Mechanicsville man of defamation.
The Virginia Supreme Court refused Trooper Melanie McKenney’s petition for appeal in her $1.35 million lawsuit against Nathan Cox, ending a protracted legal dispute.
At the heart of the case was the right of citizens to video traffic stops and police interaction for publication on social media.
Cox, 37, an Army veteran who served in Iraq during the Iraq War, has operated a law enforcement watchdog website, Virginia Cop Block. McKenney pulled him over during a traffic stop in 2012. He was subsequently charged for not displaying a license plate on the front of his vehicle and another non-moving vehicle violation.
During the course of the traffic stop, Cox used his cell phone to video the interaction with McKenney, and she attempted to grab it and take it away from him.
Cox, who now lives in Brevard County, Florida, later posted a video on the Internet of the traffic stop with his comments. McKenney filed a lawsuit against Cox in Hanover County alleging his remarks constituted defamation. The original case, claiming $5,000 in damages was dismissed, but McKenney filed a second similar lawsuit seeking $1.35 million in damages.
All of McKenney’s claims eventually were dismissed by the trial court, but she appealed.
The Virginia Supreme Court rejected her appeal Jan. 23, saying in its ruling there was “no reversible error.”
“Accordingly, the Court refuses the petition for appeal,” the high court ruled.
“Nathan Cox’s nightmare is finally over,” said Thomas Roberts, a Richmond attorney whose law firm defended Cox based on legal procedure and the First Amendment right to free speech.
McKenney’s last claim at the trial court was based on a statement Cox made when he was invited to speak to a group of University of Richmond law students in 2015. He told the students that the trooper “pretty much assaulted me.”
Attorneys for Cox opposed McKenney’s appeal, arguing it had no basis. Her concession that she “frisk[ed] him a little bit and things like that” was sufficient factual ground to legitimize Cox’s opinion that McKenney “pretty much assaulted” him, they argued, and the trial court dismissed her claim.
Freedom Works Foundation helped Cox pay some of his legal fees, and Roberts has established a website to raise more funds. You can find the legal fund HERE. (www.gofundme.com/constitutional-liberties-matter).
Virginia State Troopers take a pledge to obey the laws of the United States and Virginia, and to defend the constitutions of both, Roberts noted on the website. “Unless somebody holds government servants faithful to the pledge, it is meaningless and your liberties are at risk,” he wrote.
“Nathan Cox has shouldered the burden of protecting your rights…He has stood in the breach, he has done his part. Will you do yours?”
— END —
“Constitutional Liberties Matter!
I didn’t think a police officer would silence criticism using a lawsuit – but that didn’t seem to stop one from filing a $1.35 Million lawsuit. If not for a Virginia civil rights law firm standing up and protecting the liberties guaranteed by the 1st Amendment, the suit would have silenced one citizen’s criticism, chilled the speech and rights of others and made all our lives more dangerous.
Nathan Cox, an Army veteran of the Iraq War and law enforcement accountability advocate, attempted to exercise his First Amendment right to video tape a simple traffic-stop. He was pulled over and then charged for not displaying a license plate on the front of his vehicle in addition to another non-moving vehicle violation.
What followed rises to the level of absurd. The Virginia State Trooper did not want to be in the news or subject to public scrutiny. After Nathan Cox posted video of the stop on the internet with comments, the trooper filed a lawsuit against him for defamation. But she didn’t even show up for court, so the case was dismissed. The harassment from the Trooper didn’t stop there. She appealed the dismissal and then dropped the action— only to file another suit in the Circuit Court, and instead of suing for $5,000 as she did the first time, she sued for $1.35 Million. This was an almost 27,000% increase in alleged damages.
Nathan Cox, without any ability to pay for a defense, asked the Virginia civil rights law firm of Thomas H. Roberts & Associates, P.C. to defend him and the 1st Amendment to the Constitution. This is the same law firm that recently won in the United States 4th Circuit Court of Appeals the case protecting police officers’ rights to criticize policies of police departments on Facebook which they believed endangered officers’ and citizens’ safety–Liverman v. City of Petersburg. This is the third time that the law firm has successfully defended Nathan Cox’s 1st Amendment rights.
In evidence obtained by Nathan through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Trooper’s own equipment recorded her admitting that she “didn’t want to be on YouTube or whatever.” This belied her claims in her lawsuit that she thought Nathan’s recording cell phone was a gun—it was obvious Nathan Cox was video-recording the interaction with his cell phone. The law firm defended Nathan on grounds the Trooper’s suit was procedurally deficient and the statements were not defamatory and were protected speech under the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution.
After hours and hours of legal work, multiple motions, discovery and multiple court hearings the court rejected all the Trooper’s claims against Nathan Cox and dismissed the lawsuit. The case is McKenney v. Cox, in Hanover County Circuit Court, Virginia.
Nathan Cox now lives in Brevard County Florida with his newlywed wife. He is doing his best to pay for the legal fees from his job providing local pet care services.
Freedom Works Foundation has created this Go Fund Me page to give this newlywed a chance to start his new life with his beautiful wife without the staggering weight of the legal bill over his head and to give you a chance to stand with Nathan to defend liberty.
A simple act can help secure freedom, protect free speech guaranteed under the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution – and would be an amazing gift to these newlyweds.
Any funds received in excess of the legal bill will be used by Freedom Works Foundation, a Virginia non-profit organization, to defend liberties in similar cases, liberties for which our brave men and women have given so much to protect–liberties officers are sworn to protect! Your gift will be used to fight on the front lines the battle to defend liberty from enemies within who would destroy liberties like Free Speech guaranteed by the 1st Amendment.
Thank you for being willing to touch a life, to stand with Nathan Cox and Freedom Works Foundation, to make a difference, to give freedom a chance, to make Freedom Work!
For those who’ve been following the Civil Lawsuit Saga that I have been dealing with, in which Virginia State Trooper Melanie McKenney filed a defamation suit against me which all transpired from a traffic stop she initiated back in 2012 – I have your most recent update!
September 8th, of this 2016, my attorney Jonathan Arthur, an associate over at Thomas Roberts & Associates was in court to deal with the one final claim against me. I will take a moment to remind you that the last time we were in court over this ordeal, was on November 6th, 2015. You can find the filed complaint against me, the pleadings my attorney responded with AND the most recent opinion the Judge issued after that November 6th court date, here. I digress.
The results are in from the September 8th 2016 hearing!
Please check out Thomas Roberts‘ excellent write up regarding the outcome of the case here. Mr. Roberts is a founder and the principal member of the firm of Thomas H. Roberts & Associates, P.C. I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend Jonathan Arthur or anyone else at the firm for legal matters and most especially civil rights/ Constitutional situations!
I am in great need of donations for my legal defense. Please consider making a donation here. If you prefer your donations to be in the form of Bitcoin, send a message to the VA Cop Block Facebook Page letting us know.
President-elect Trump recently alleged massive voter fraud in a number of states, including Virginia, where democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe restored voting rights for more than 67,000 former felons ahead of the November election. While many republicans criticized the move as a blatant attempt to secure votes for his long-time pal, Hillary Clinton, many others praised McAuliffe as a hero for civil rights who was trying to address an historic wrong that specifically targeted African Americans for felony disenfranchisement.
Restoring rights to those who have served their time is the right thing to do, however, the media focused on emotional stories of tearful ex-felons setting foot inside of the ballot box for the first time rather than examine what little practical impact the ability to vote would have in improving their lives. Supporting prisoner re-entry, removing barriers to employment such as occupational licensing requirements, and sending fewer people to jail for victimless crimes in the first place would have a far greater positive effect for improving the lot of ex-offenders.
Additionally, the right to vote in Virginia has even less value once you consider that residents do not even have access to the sort of ballot initiatives that residents in Colorado and elsewhere used to legalize marijuana.
Trump was correct about the existence of voter fraud in Virginia, but not the kind he claimed. The fraud that happened here is that so many voters have been duped into thinking that Terry McAuliffe is some sort of champion for civil rights or criminal justice reform.
Fairfax County has taken its status as a sanctuary county for killer cops to the next level. One of the six sheriff’s deputies cleared in the brutal tasing death of Natasha McKenna has killed a second person with mental illness.
Deputy Patrick McPartlin has killed someone the last two years in a row.
On August 15, Jovany Martinez (listed as Giovanny Martinez in some reports) “had been walking along Little River Turnpike and, feeling desperate, approached a [Fairfax County Police Department] squad car and rapped on the window. Martinez told the officer that he wanted to take pills and die.”
In an incident previously covered by Josh Hotchkin, a Noodles & Company employee allegedly refused to provide service to a uniformed officer with the Alexandria Police Department of Virginia on Monday, July 25.
As reported by Fox5DC:
At around 6:30 p.m. Monday evening, a female officer in full uniform walked into the Noodles & Company on Duke St. in Alexandria when she was refused service while waiting in line, according to officials. The cook at the restaurant came out of the kitchen, walked to the cashier and said something in the lines of “you are going to have to take me off the line, because I am not serving that.” The cashier and the cook then exchanged a few words and started laughing at the officer. The officer decided to leave the restaurant when she realized what was happening, called her supervisor.
Instead of going to another restaurant (might I suggest Chick-fil-A?) to get her lunch, the offended cop called her supervisor. Why? To discuss their options for arresting the chef and cashier on bogus contempt of cop charges? To make arrangements for an impromptu regulatory raid? To get talked down from going back in and shooting the place up because she feared for her ego?
“The impact was very loud. It seems like it shook the house to the point where you brace yourself like, ‘is something about to come through the house?” It sounded like a big large pop.”
That was how the May 7, 2016 crash that killed 79-year old Robert Crittsinger was described by a man who heard it happen and witnessed the aftermath. It was an accident the Norfolk Police Department (of Virginia) initially said occurred when one of their officers “was traveling south on Hampton Boulevard when a Toyota Prius pulled out from Surrey Crescent and collided with the cruiser.”
Now new details exposed by a city councilman during a public meeting show that it was actually the NPD officer who was at fault, and not the deceased victim.
According to the Virginian-Pilot, “Paul Riddick said the police chief told him an investigation found that the officer was going 72 mph at the instant his marked cruiser collided with a Toyota Prius, driven by Robert Crittsinger.”
The article describes how the still unnamed officer crossed paths with Crittsinger that night:
Just after 10 p.m. May 7, the officer had been dispatched to a call for a gunshot victim near the corner of Colley and Graydon avenues in Ghent, police said at the time.
The crash happened north of Old Dominion University at the intersection of Surrey Crescent, more than 2 miles from the shooting. The officer, whose name police refused to release, was coming from farther north.
The NPD officer was racing along Norfolk’s streets at speeds up to 96 MPH. This is despite the fact that: “a Norfolk Police Department general order issued in 2014 says officers on emergency calls should not exceed speed limits by more than 15 mph, except during pursuits. The speed limit on that stretch of Hampton Boulevard is 35 mph, and there was no police pursuit that night.”
Even though the police department already knows that their officer blatantly violated their policy regarding proper speed, and certainly knew this back in May, the issue is reportedly still “under investigation.” The department refuses to even say whether the involved officer has returned to work.
It seems extremely unlikely that an ordinary citizen who caused a fatal accident while recklessly traveling at nearly three times the posted speed limit would experience this sort of protracted investigation and considerate delay of criminal charges. Fortunately, we don’t need to speculate on that matter. The auto enthusiast website, Jalopnik, has covered Virginia’s treatment of reckless drivers extensively.
From an article by Patrick George, who served three days in a Virginia jail for reckless driving during his test drive of a Camaro ZL1:
Reckless driving is not a traffic citation, it’s a criminal charge, and a Class One misdemeanor at that. That means it’s the highest level of misdemeanor you can be charged with in Virginia, right below a felony. The maximum penalty for a reckless driving conviction is a $2,500 fine, a six month driver’s license suspension, and up to a year in jail.
They hand it out like it’s Halloween candy, too. You drive 20 mph over the limit, it’s reckless driving. They even charge you with it for failing to properly signal, or when you’re found to be at fault in a car wreck. I’ve heard of some cases where people get 30 days in jail if they speed over 100 mph.
Other Class One misdemeanors in Virginia include animal cruelty, sexual battery, and aiming a firearm at someone. This is how the commonwealth regards people who drive over 80 mph.
Another Jalopnik article gives an idea of how frequently Virginia slaps this charge on drivers who have not caused deadly crashes, or even any accident at all:
During the 2014 Thanksgiving weekend, Virginia State Police cited 2,312 people for reckless driving and 9,789 people for speeding. That’s not even including all the tickets issued by local sheriff’s offices and police departments. The summer holiday weekends can have even higher numbers, with 2,673 reckless driving tickets issued by the State Police from July 4 to July 6, 2014.
The unnamed Norfolk police officer who killed Robert Crittsinger was:
- driving more than 80 MPH before the accident;
- driving more than 20 MPH over the speed limit when he smashed into Crittsinger’s car;
- not engaged in a criminal pursuit.
Since this officer broke the law and violated department policy, reckless driving should be the least criminal charge he will face. That would still not be sufficient since his negligent actions took the life of an innocent bystander. The most appropriate case here would be aggravated involuntary manslaughter due to conduct “that was so gross, wanton and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life.” The punishment for this class 5 felony in Virginia is “a term of imprisonment of not less than one nor more than 20 years, one year of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment,” and automatic revocation of one’s driver’s license.
We shall see whether blue privilege shields this officer from facing the consequences of his deadly reckless driving.
Meanwhile the only statement of responsibility Crittsinger’s surviving family will likely ever get has already come from Paul Riddick, the city councilman who took the department to task for acting “like it never happened.”
“It was negligence on our part, and as I said initially, I hope we’re not trying to hide behind sovereign immunity. It was clearly negligence on our part.”
As for the deceased Crittsinger, perhaps he is resting easy in the afterlife knowing that he helped provide an extended paid vacation for a police officer, and that the officer will likely retire with a handsome pension— According to the Virginian-Pilot, his house bears “a sticker showing Crittsinger’s past support of the Norfolk Police Pension Fund.”
Helpful readers reminded me of Virginia’s Ashley’s Law, enacted in 2011 after Ashley McIntosh was killed by Fairfax County police officer Amanda Perry, who raced through an intersection without her siren on. The law requires “emergency responders to use their flashing lights and sirens when entering an intersection against a red light or else yield to traffic.”
As the Virginian-Pilot reports: “A release said the officer had “emergency equipment” activated but did not specify whether that included both lights and siren.” Ashley’s Law doesn’t apper to be in effect here since there is no traffic light at the intersection where Crittsinger was killed. However,Virginia law does specify that emergency responders must show “due regard for safety of persons and property” while traveling above posted speed limits.
Additionally, a Facebook commenter brought up the impact of the vehicle’s speed on siren effectiveness:
“You need at least 75dBA of siren level to be audible through rolled up windows and over the car radio. In reality it might have to be 20dB higher if it’s a boom car, or a Mercedes, or some other vehicle with very good sound isolation. The maximum warning distance you can get with a siren that begins with a 100dBA at 10′ is about 160′.
At 30 MPH (44 ft/sec) closing speed that gives you about 4 seconds of warning for drivers ahead of you. At 60 MPH (88 feet per second) closing speed that only gives you 2 seconds of warning time. That’s just the warning time for someone to begin to hear a siren, they still have to react and try to locate the emergency vehicle and then do something about it.”
Furthermore, from EVOC and EMS:
“Included in my EVOC instructor’s manual is the statement that a 100W electronic siren has only 12 feet of forward penetration at 60MPH. I haven’t done the true research to see where this came from, but I feel confident that our Commonwealth wouldn’t have me deliver this information if someone hadn’t looked into it.”
A Fairfax County judge accepted a plea deal for Adam Torres today, meaning the killer cop will be released from jail on June 29th, after serving only 10 months for the murder of unarmed John Geer on August 29, 2013.
Torres, a former officer with the Fairfax County Police Department, shot and killed John Geer without provocation as Geer stood with his empty hands up above his head in the doorway of his own home. Police had been called to the house by Geer’s girlfriend, who had reported he was throwing her belongings out on the front lawn after she had announced she was leaving him and taking their teenage daughters with her.
When Torres was arrested last August and held without bond pending his second degree murder trial for killing John Geer, many speculated that this would likely be the only jail time Torres would serve for his crime. A sweetheart deal offered by Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Morrogh ensured that would be the case.