A commenter operating under the handle CSP (I assume it’s not Mike Snyder) made an excellent point in response to this morning’s Leading Off. It deserves to be elevated to the main stage. CSP says that Gary Lawson, the Strasburger & Price lawyer who compared the Morning News‘ reporting to the actions of the Chinese government at Tiananmen Square, is just funny. His coworker Robert Witte, however, is the guy we should be worried about. Read:
Lawson’s quote about the chilling effect on public commentary is particularly humorous in light of this additional revelation from Sunday’s DMN article regarding the actions of fellow Strasburger partner Robert Witte:
“Last year, after local writer and art curator Christina Rees assailed a Museum Tower official on Facebook, pension lawyers fired off a letter calling her comments ‘harassing and disparaging.’
“‘Please note that your recent Facebook posts have crossed the line, going beyond the realm of protected free speech into unlawful and legally actionable harassment, defamation, tortuous interference, and business disparagement,’ Strasburger lawyer Robert Witte wrote.
“He said that if Rees’ comments resulted in someone backing out of a condo purchase, ‘the resulting judgment against you could take decades to pay.’
“The lawyers did not stop there. Rees was working for Texas Christian University at the time, and the pension lawyers threatened to sue the school as well. They sent copies of the letter to the chancellor and other school officials.”
As humorous as Mike Snyder’s escapades were, I believe this threat sent by well-compensated lawyers representing a government institution to a private citizen exercising her First Amendment rights was much more the buried lede of the DMN investigation. I would hope that whatever official investigations into the Pension System have been initiated also take into account whether buffoons like Gary Lawson and Robert Witte should be allowed to continue their well-compensated taxpayer-subsidized representation.
(And since it’s clear Lawson and Witte read FrontBurner comments, I’m just fine with bellying up to the bar with you to explain the many ways you are buffoons.)