Over at The City Paper, they a story about Stacey Campfield's libel case being dismissed. You recall that Campfield blogged that candidate Roger Byrge had been arrested based on gossip he'd overheard from Rep. Glen Casada. Byrge sued. Yesterday, the judge in Campfield's case, Circuit Judge John McAfee, ruled in Campfield's favor:
McAfee acknowledged that Campfield had gotten it wrong on his blog, but he agreed with defense attorneys that the lawmaker did not know the information provided by House Republican leadership was false when he posted it.
"The senator was conversing with the Republican apparatus. They apparently had criminal history on a gentleman, this guy's son, a very similar name, except the middle name," McAfee said. "I can see how you could mess that up. It is what it is."
McAfee said in the hearing that the legal standard for determining libel of public officials involves proving malicious intent or "a complete reckless disregard of the truth" or an awareness that the information was probably false.
So, it's a victory for Campfield in the sense that he doesn't have to come up with three-quarters of a million dollars. But it's also a loss.
It's a loss for Campfield in that the Judge basically insinuated Campfield was too stupid to know that he might want to double-check all office gossip before writing about it. And it's a loss in that Campfield's bridge-burning deposition, in which he passed blame to Glen Casada and belittled the computer skills of his colleagues, became public.
It's one thing when you're open about your disdain for everyone who opposes you. It's quite another when your disdain for the people you have to work with becomes public knowledge.
It's a common courtesy to support incumbents against primary challengers. To see how pissed Campfield's colleagues are at him, just keep an eye on how many remain "neutral" while Richard Briggs mounts his campaign in the coming year.
Byrge may not have financially destroyed Campfield, but he may have given Campfield enough rope that he finally has hung himself.