We set out to establish that the Barton’s aged truck, used to gas us with volatilized pesticides, was modified to serve as a poisoning platform. Linda Kaidan performed this complex investigation. (Video below.)
Kaidan approached the Bartons’ truck–parked across the street from us in their driveway, and photographed it from the public sidewalk in front of their home. This was 3 months after she was beaten by the Barton gang’s Shianne Hill for standing on the same spot. Here is a Kaidan’s report:
Linda Kaidan’s Report of Poison Spraying by the Numbers
After feeling the searing burn of chemicals on my face for too many mornings, on 9/16/17, I finally took the initiative to look under the Barton truck parked across the street at their 333 Pleasant Avenue house. Here’s what I found.
On the driver’s side a long cylinder with a 50% cut out on the 180 degrees facing the street is apparent.
This cylinder may be an integral part of a spraying mechanism.
A electrical connection dangles from the rear.
On the driver’s side a similar cylinder with intact electrical connection can be seen.
Pesticide is typically dispensed by electrically volatizing it into a fine mist, rapidly dispensed under pressure in high volume over a wide area. The device is called a fogger.
The Barton gang’s truck appears to support both right, left and rear dispensing of a volatilized chemical.
There was no pesticide tank the day the photo was taken. The Bartons, apparently fearing increased official scrutiny, have had allies spraying us recently. But the necessary apparatus is still on the truck. I (Berry) recently watched as Joyce Barton sat in the truck cab, controlling the mechanism with a hand unit as she parked in front of our house. An invisible blast of pesticide mist hit the front of our house and me.
There are many of these vehicles in Herkimer. They been known to convoy past our house, spraying. Herkimer’s criminals dislike our cameras and coverage of their activities.
Stephen Ames Berry
The more things change, the more they remain the same-Herkimer’s poisonous Bartons spray on. Despite the arrest of one gang member and the disappearance of another, the Joyce Baton gang continues spraying our home and us with odorless pesticides. This is the 19th month of poison gas attacks on us here in Herkimer.
The Barton gang poison gassers seem mostly down to Joyce Barton and household members. Still using the same old truck, several times a day they send a burst of volatilized pesticide down our driveway from a concealed fogger somewhere on their spraymobile. (The truck apparently enjoys diplomatic immunity.)
If you don’t believe me, come stand beside outside me for a driveby. Or in an open window. Morning’s their preferred time, though the sight of us outside at any time often inspires a quick burst. Sometimes they fire down our 332 Pleasant Avenue neighbors’ driveway. Sometimes the gas gets into our 328 neighbors’ house and yard, sometimes it drifts into the street.
If there’s a will to stop this murderous conduct, a way will be found. Until then, the war of attrition between Herkimer’s legacy criminals and its first climate change migrants grinds on.
Her colleague is probably Ben Dennis, a recent Penn State grad who’s interned at CNN and CBS News. His Animal Control outfit is appropriate for a visit to the Joyce Barton gang’s turf; on a drug-fueled romp, the gang’s crazier than a sack of rats. (Apologies if we got the names wrong. Our cameras aren’t as good as yours. )
It seems likely the news team’s visit was inspired by our widely viewed coverage of the Barton gang’s 5/18 assault on herkimerpost.com editor Linda Kaidan. Despite being warned that she’d be beaten if she crossed the street from her home to the Barton gang’s 333 Pleasant Avenue, side, she did so. And was beaten.
Like Kaidan, Pavlovsky stepped onto Joyce Barton’s public sidewalk, camera rolling. Kaidan’s assailant Shianne Hill, on a year’s probation for her cowardly assault, was present on the porch but did not attack Pavolvsky. Of course, there was an Animal Control officer present.
The WUTR news team then plunged down the driveway between the Barton’s and a neighboring house. (Never been down there–“Here Lie Dragons.” There’s a smaller house at the base of the driveway.) They emerged unscathed, presumably after interviewing a few folks, then left.
A Heartening Visit
We were very heartened by the WUTR news team’s visit –we’ve been under siege for four years with not a word support from the Herkimer community. We hope WUTR’s interest in Herkimer’s entrenched criminal community and it’s depraved lawlessness continues. Our criminal neighbors don’t do well in sunlight.
(Conversation overheard later that day from the Barton’s side of the street: “How come you guys hit an old lady?” “We didn’t know she was that old.”)
Poison Gas Attacks Ramp Up after Reporters Visit
This is the 17th month of poison attacks on us. Following Shianne Hill’s arrest in May, attacks dropped off to an occasional sniping driveby or backyard spraying from the direction of Eureka Avenue. But they’ve ramped up again, following the broadcast journalists’ filming of Barton gang and their Pleasant Avenue lair.
Prime spraying time is now the morning when we’re out or in our front yard. We often return to find our driveway filled with pesticide, and get hit with it from drivebys if we linger out front. Chemical foggers dispensing volatized pesticide from beneath passing vehicles remain the weapon of choice. The Barton ‘s ancient pickup still seems the primary delivery vehicle, with backup from one or two allied vehicles. (How does that heap get an inspection sticker every year?)
Our lessening problems aside, it’s obvious that Herkimer and the entire Mohawk Valley are undergoing a rapid sea change of rising prosperity, fueled by climate change relocation and the resulting booming real estate sales. Prosperity dooms criminals like the Barton gang. They feed off of others poverty and desperation. Solid reporting and robust social media exposure will speed their end.
There seem to be only a few gassing vehicles now in use. The principal vehicle is Douglas Barton’s old truck, in the driveway across the street from us at the Bartons’ 330 Pleasant Avenue. (Barton himself is gone, his place taken by a younger clone.) That truck is no stranger to the law.
Joyce Barton’s shirt’s a fitting choice for Herkimer’s arch poisoner and drug dealer. The pesticide being directed from beneath all vehicles is more toxic than many previously used. The foggers used to volatilize and dispense the pesticide are apparently easily moved to other vehicles.
Herkimer Poison Gassers Using GPS Tracking?
In the past month, our murderous band of Herkimer neighbors have developed an uncanny ability to accurately predict when we’ll be arriving home. Pulling into our driveway, we’re often greeted with a fresh toxic cloud of odorless pesticide. It disperses within a few moments, indicating it was just applied. The drive time from our usual Herkimer haunts is only a few minutes. Knowing our location and travel route allows a reduced number of poisoners to apply fresh pesticide to our driveway without resorting to the high-volume, high visible driveby poison gassings which seems to have taken a lot of them off of the road.
The toxin in our driveway is often augmented by a custom poison spraying directed into our backs from the street as we unload groceries. Volatilized pesticide is invisibly released under pressure from a fogger beneath a vehicle. Doug Barton’s old truck is associated with quite a few but all not blasts of poison as it innocently backs out of the Barton driveway.
Herkimer Poisoners Using New Highly Caustic Chemical
The poison used on us in the past month is caustic and highly toxic It abrades the skin, and attacks the central nervous system and the lungs. Multiple showers are needed to detox Some clothing will clean up after repeated washings. If not, they must be discarded, or will serve to dispense more poison in the body.
Rather than ripping our car apart looking for a GPS tracker, then doing it again when another one’s secreted, we often wear Tyvek. Yard work safety calls for Tyvek, as does protection from opportunistic driveby poisonings. (The neighborhood abounds in spotters, who blame us for their loss of drug and child trafficking income, and of course, for “getting Shianne arrested.” )
For prolonged outdoor exposure on Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue, a military grade P-100 gas mask is standard. Here I am in full chemical warfare regalia, trimming a tree. Unprotected, this activity would subject me to a driveby gas attack, usually from the Barton’s truck.
Biohazard suits and the masks should do us for the duration, if Joyce Barton doesn’t source some Sarin nerve gas from Syria. Our yards though, are hopelessly poisoned, as are those of many of our neighbors.
In a June 6th appearance in Herkimer Village Court before Magistrate Robert L. DeCarlo, Shianne Hill pleaded Not Guilty to 3rd Degree Assault. Hill, 18, a recent Herkimer High graduate, was charged in the unprovoked May 18th attack on 63 year-old Herkimer blogger Linda Kaidan, who owns the house across the street from Joyce Bartons’ 333 Pleasant Avenue. Kaidan is a retired IBM and Oracle Corp. software developer.
Kaidan was challenging Joyce Barton’s gang-turf assertion that the public sidewalk in front of 333 Pleasant Avenue is hers. Prior to crossing the street, Kaidan was warned on camera by a Barton family member to stay in her house, or else…
Hill was represented by her public defender and accompanied by her mentor Joyce Barton, of Herkimer’s Barton Gang, which has long dominated Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue. Hill lived with the Bartons for many years. Shianne Hill is but one of several former innocents we’ve seen Joyce Barton sadistically destroy under a false flag of concerned nurturing and friendship.
Hill was neatly groomed and soft-spoken. Her public defender noted that Hill has no prior record. The case was continued until June 27 at 1600, when an assistant district attorney will be present.
Shianne Hill’s SSI-Qualifying Disability Not Obvious
Hill’s unspecified disability didn’t appeared to handicap her as she stalked and attacked her elderly neighbor. (Video below) Kaidan sustained a concussion, facial laceration and aggravation of her spinal osteoporosis, per hospital reports. Her hands were at her side when Hill punched her. Kaidan’s glasses were knocked from her face during the attack and stolen.
YouTube Age-Restricts “Violent and Graphic” Videos of Shianne Hill’s Attack
Because of the violent and graphic nature of Shianne Hill’s craven assault, YouTube initially age-restricted videos of the attack, which to date have had about 2,500 views on our popular Herkimer Crime channel. YouTube said in an email to us that though the videos of Hill’s attack don’t violate their community standards, they’re not something they want kids and teens viewing. We disagreed, but YouTube is Google and will have its way.
(Note: 6/13: YouTube has dropped the age-restriction on the main video, but retained it on the shorter one. An appeal is pending.)
Here’s the main video:
Linda Kaidan is still recovering from the assault. We’ll be reporting on Shianne Hill’s case as it progresses.
Herkimer Post views surge driven by YouTube and Facebook
In 2017, a sudden surge in new readers caused Herkimer Post views to soar. Those stats follow below. First we’d like to celebrate our most successful article ever, with a big tip of the hat to Facebook News Feed, which picked up our 12/11/17 article Herkimer Poison Gas Attacks Fade – Good News, Bad News . The posting itself on that day alone triggered 591 views of our articles, featuring some of Herkimer’s core of coddled criminals.
Herkimer Crime Captivates YouTube – 3,922 Views in 36 Hours
YouTube viewers watched agog as 7,119 minutes of Herkimer street assaults, elder abuse, poison gas attacks and a street gang rampage rolled across their screens. Our videos received one Like, and 35 Dislikes. (The latter are about the number of estimated drug dealers and child traffickers and exploiters within a two-block area of our Pleasant Avenue home. )
4,513 Social Media Engagements from 1
Herkimer Poison Gas Attacks Post From 12/11-12/13/17, almost 4,000 viewers watched Herkimer’s traditional lawlessness parade past on footage we captured within with 40 feet of our home, here on Herkimer’s unfortunately-named Pleasant Avenue. Not counting my 75k Twitter followers, we had 4,532 Herkimer Post social media engagements from that one Herkimer poison gassing post.
Our Herkimer crime YouTube channel is now self-sustaining, with the majority of viewers coming via referral from YouTube affiliated sites or from previews embedded in our videos. If the Herkimer Post vanished today, our viewership would continue to soar, so great is the human fascination with the grotesque.
Herkimer Crime 2017
Top 10 Popular YouTubes
Curtis Cool Continues to Rule
9,100 Views, 27,000 Minutes Watchtime
Herkimer’s iconic Curtis Cool’s antics are responsible for about 50% of all our Herkimer crime video views. Assaults and trafficking by the Stanley Sykes gang, Joyce Barton and Herkimer’s Historic Crack House Keeper account for most of the rest. (The Sykes’ gang is trending nicely. ) With Facebook News now taking an interest in our blog, we hope the influx of new readers and viewers will continue to send the Herkimer Post soaring as we offer fresh, newsworthy Herkimer crime insights.
Herkimer Grows Camera Shy
There’s been a concerted effort by the Herkimer Police and Herkimer’s -legacy criminals to avoid creating arrest-worthy, video-worthy incidents. But only when the Sykes’s and the Bartons and their trafficking are gone from Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue will the street become fully habitable again and real estate salable.
The waves of poison gas attacks of last year have settled into a war of attrition, with snipers surrounding us; executing pesticide attacks from hand foggers whenever we venture out. The gas of course rolls on down the street over law abiding people and pets.
Note to prospective Pleasant Avenue real estate sellers and their agents:
Taking a property off of the market and then renting it to criminals who spray poisons is not a winning sales strategy.
A ‘Speak no evil’ philosophy empowered this criminal stronghold. While Justice Brandeis has given effective advice – “Sunlight is the best disinfectant”. As Herkimer Post views surge, we provide this sunlight.
Herkimer gassing of 2/27/18 – I was in my backyard and then entered my home experiencing itchiness, burning skin sensations and nausea. I went out the front door (position 1) and observed a small black sedan backing out of a driveway near 324 Pleasant Ave (position 2). This vehicle headed west towards PK’s pub. It parked on the north side roughly at position labelled 3 on the above map. A person exited the vehicle and ran briskly towards the home located near #3. At the same time there was a small black sedan parked near #4 on the above map. The license number of one of these vehicles (obtained 2 minutes later after one vehicle had departed) was FSE-9699.
I was suspicious of the vehicle backing out from the driveway labeled 2 because it drove such a short distance. Why not walk a distance of several houses rather than drive? And if the purpose was to park close to PK’s pub, why not turn around in one of the several vacant driveways that were closer to the pub?
The prevailing wind at this time was from the west. I believe that poison pesticide sprayed from position #2 resulted in the symptoms that I experienced. These symptoms are consistent with Deltmethrin, a popular pyrethroid insecticide manufactured in Canada.
Old age and skill will overcome youth and treachery —Night Court
Update 6/22/17. Kiera’s father yesterday morning followed me down Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue, harassing me with bellowed obscenities. (“You m-fer, you got ma baby girl locked up!”) If she was arrested, this is two of his kids now in jail . (The son for alleged heroin trafficking, daughter Kiera for at least criminal harassment), even as dad flirts with a criminal harassment charge of his own. Maybe the new Herkimer County jail will have a wing named after them.
I videoed these two fresh Black Dahlias because they kept harassing me from their car when Dog Bear and I walked past 334 Pleasant Avenue. We live two doors down. Thought they wanted attention. Guess not. (For purposes of photography and audio, New York is a one-party consent state.)
334 Pleasant Avenue – Herkimer’s Harassing Harpies Headquarters
The driveway of 341 Eureka Avenue (white house, rear) is blocked. The only way into and out of the parking lot is via the driveway of 334 Pleasant Avenue. It sees a lot of visitors and vehicles. The porch serves as a lookout post. Good luck getting past Sykes gang’s Carrie Ann Bass. S (Next video.)
I tottered by them on my way home from the grocery store. Turning, I filmed their license plate. It went better than I’d hoped–Kyra Sykes, the ballsiest of Herkimer’s harassing harpies, (see below video), ripped my cellphone from my hand and called 911 to report I’d hit her with it. Her friend tried but failed in her role as Kyra’s keeper, while her sister-in-law, Herkimer’s Carrie Bass, lied through her venomous lips.
Here’s the combined cellphone and minicam footage:
Carrie Ann Bass, Sykes gang’s 334 Pleasant Avenue’s resident guardian-toad.
The Herkimer Police arrived, Officers Bowman and Hill. They confirmed that Kiera had called 911, saying I’d hit her in the face with my cellphone and repeated the allegation to them. (Falsely Reporting an Incident in the Third Degree.) No one was arrested. The officers didn’t see the surveillance or minicam footage–those required downloading. They did see the cellphone clips of the two harassment incidents. I was invited to file a complaint.
(If I lay gut shot and dying on Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue, the last voice I’d probably ever hear would be that of a Herkimer police officer asking, “Do you want to file a complaint?”)
Herkimer’s Brazen New Gang – The Stanley Sykes Gang
Herkimer’s harassing harpies were the first sign that the village had a brazen new gang with city roots, come north to stake claim to a large chunk of Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue. And that they were aggressively camera shy–probably for good reason. (They were later revealed to be the Stanley Sykes gang out of Utica.)
Herkimer’s homegrown gangs of late have tried to stay off the radar, preferring stealth to confrontation and darkness to light. Not these guys: They’re in-your-face aggressive, trying to intimidate through harassment. When that fails, they immediately escalate to assault or mobbing. It’s urban street gang tactics. It’s a brave new world for Herkimer crime. Stay tuned: The Herkimer Post is watching.
Meth tweaker assaults all have much common–meth heads are intellectually disabled by their addiction and easily incited to commit acts of abuse and violence by cowardly false friends, who use them as methbots.
In his most recent attack, this self-admitted criminal and probable meth tweaker, spotted me as I ambled with my old dog the few doors down from our house to 318 Pleasant Avenue, there to take a photo of a new “Room for Rent” sign, foolishly thinking that perhaps he’d been evicted following the public exposure of his harassing elders in the street. Silly me. As folks around here say with a sigh and a shrug, “It’s Herkimer.” (Folks in Sodom probably shrugged and said “It’s Sodom.”)
the crack house keeper’s lair
Apparently Herkimer’s Crack House Keeper was hanging out with his fellow wastrels at 335 Pleasant Avenue, the street’s remaining scrote sanctuary. Spotting me from afar taking a photo of the Room For Rent sign at 316 Pleasant Avenue, and unleashed by his handlers, he charged down the street, screaming threats and obscenities.
I turned to meet his attack, my faithful cellphone camera rolling. “You can’t take pictures of my fucking house, you old fuck!” he screamed as he slammed into my 69 year-old right shoulder with his significantly younger one.
all criminals are victims
“You hit me!” he screeched as I staggered back, raving on, “You fuckin’ got me violated!” [Meaning his probation officer cited him for violating the conditions of his probation. He probably now has a court appearance coming.] “I was drug tested!” he wailed. No! You’d think he was a criminal! And he didn’t even didn’t have time to buy clean urine.
Seems likely his Herkimer County Probation officer read that post. (Perhaps he or she will read this one. ) “A lot of people on this street want to beat you two up!” People? Would these people be from 335 Pleasant Avenue?
Curses! a misfire!
Unfortunately, before Tweakie could be deescalted by my dog repellent, my wife arrived and expedited his retreat. Just as well—when he struck me, I inadvertently scrubbed the video filming in progress. (I sorrow for the thousands of YouTube hits that now never will be. ) Next time.
Here’s the surveillance cams’ video clips of the comings and goings to and from the historic crack house during the assault. It’s up to the left, off camera. The scrote haven of 335 Pleasant Avenue, disturbingly next to Joyce Barton and Douglas Barton’s garageless house at 333 Pleasant Avenue, is where the loon first parks his bike, passing my wife on her way home:
Herkimer Police Respond
Oh. The Herkimer Police. Both my assailant and I raced to be the first to call the police, for, as Herkimer Mayor Anthony Brindisi, himself a retired Herkimer police officer, counselled me on the night one of his officers threatened my wife with arrest at the behest of street’s then-reigning drug thugs, in Herkimer “You’ve got to be the first to call the police, Steve.”
I don’t take drugs, so I beat the meth tweaker on the dial-out, making me in the Herkimer right. All of Herkimer’s criminals and apparently its mayor know if you’re the first to call the cops, especially if you’re breaking the law, then you’re the victim. We saw this in the case of Herkimer’s Joyce and Douglas Barton and Officer Heist. Here’s Herkimer’s talented Golden Child Curtis Cool, aka Curtis Dolan, on YouTube, showing us how it’s done, the Herkimer way.
I had a typical leisurely conversation with Herkimer County 911 center, as they probed to find out if there was really a problem, and weighed a measured response. I convinced them in slightly less time than it takes to apply for Social Security that it was a physical assault. Don’t how I’d have convinced them if he’d been throttling me.
Herkimer Police Sergeant Scholl Arrives
Herkimer Police Sergeant John Scholl rolled in fairly quickly. (911 did take my locally infamous name.) Sergeant Scholl told my attacker–whose female caregiver helped explain it to him–that public photography is legal. Yes, even in Herkimer NY, my child.
REELECTION of Herkimer County District Attorney Jeffrey Carpenter ensures herkimer stays an unsafe pirate haven
If you don’t take criminal complaints, there’s no reported crime. Keeps the stats reported to the FBI low. Don’t laugh–it just got the local district attorney reelected: reported crime on his watch fell statistically, even as his depraved indifference to public safety further emboldened criminals, police misfeasance and undoubtedly increased crime.
District Attorney Jeffrey Carpenter has helped establish Herkimer as a notorious pirate haven. #HerkimerParadiseHis opponent, our former DA and greatly respected retired judge, Bill Daley, meticulously pointed this out to Herkimer County voters: Facts, figures, legal sleights of hand. Judge Daley lost. It wasn’t even close. In Herkimer you can apparently fool enough of the people all of the time. But then, it’s Herkimer.
We’ve tried to file harassment complaints with the Herkimer Police on three occasions, twice with ample video documentation. The only result was our gifting the Herkimer Police and their families with free high capacity thumb drives. In fairness, most of the officers try to do their jobs despite an obvious failure of governance. But then several Herkimer police officers have tried to intimidate us under the color of law, responding to bogus complaints lodged by Herkimer’s more monied drug and child traffickers. And so The Herkimer Post was born.
herkimer’s old goats against the current
We’ll keep blogging on about matters of public concern, beating upstream, old goats against the current. We believe the sunlight the Herkimer Post helps shines on Herkimer has helped bring authentic law enforcement to our pastoral village, spotlighting Herkimer’s crime and failed governance. It’s also sent our blog and YouTube stats soaring. Sure beats the heck out of just sitting around growing squash. Though this most recent ugly incident we’ve beamed to the world from Bulgaria did remind us that we need to beef up our surveillance suite.
Been watching the drones? Pretty. They grace our skies and aren’t confined to just the night or the Herkimer Meth Bridge area. And Herkimer certainly earned them.The only change we foresee for them under Trump is the addition of weaponized police drones.
What are the rights of bloggers as journalists? Case in point: our neighbor Curtis Cool’s (aka Curtis Dolan) female caretaker mentioned the captioned lawsuit the other day during an exchange of pleasantries. (Curtis rents 328 Pleasant Avenue from Harriett Tangorra, Herkimer Supreme Court clerk of court, upon whom he apparently relies for legal advice.)
There is yet no lawsuit. We await.
We received a letter about a month ago from Herkimer attorney Todd D. Bennett, written for 333 Pleasant Avenue’s Douglas and Joyce Barton. The Bartons allege that they’ve “suffered damages to their reputation (sic) as a result of your publication.” (“What reputation?” asked my wife. “As drug dealers?” “Harassment? Arson? Menacing?” I suggested. “But surely our posts would only enhance those reputations?”) The Bartons demand we take down all Herkimer Post articles regarding them. It bewails the worldwide notoriety our postings have brought them. (And obviously Herkimer itself, which has long failed to protect the Barton’s neighbors from them. Some Herkimer police officers have seemingly acted in league with the Bartons to intimidate us.)
The letter further alleges that our articles “have exposed the Bartons and their family members to contempt and ridicule.” If true, the Bartons have only to look in a mirror see the source of that contempt and ridicule. Attorney Bennett states that “according to my clients, your published statements are false and constitute defamation per se.” Mr. Bennett does not offer his own opinion as to whether or not such statements would constitute defamation; that would have required reading the posts.
The Final Threat: Copyright Infringement?
Lastly, Attorney Bennett states that his law firm does not “attempt to restrict freedom of speech…”, then in his letter’s last sentence attempts to restrict our freedom of speech by vaguely threatening “that the publication of this legal correspondence…is unauthorized and may subject you to further causes of action.”
There is no law protecting legal correspondence per se from publication. That would be an infringement of the 1st Amendment. What Mr. Bennett may be implying is that his letter to us is protected from publication as a copyrighted work. This is often the parting shot in Cease and Desist letters, meant to further intimidate recipients into silence.
It’s only possible to understand our letter in response to his by seeing Attorney Bennett wrote; we believe its publication clearly falls under the protection of the Fair Use statute;
We think his letter a fine example of a typical meritless threat often used by attorneys to attempt to silence their clients’ critics;
We don’t believe the copyright laws prevent us from posting Attorney Bennett’s letter: It’s not register with Copyright Office. Until it is, Attorney Bennett cannot sue to enforce a copyright claim. (17 U.S.C. § 411(a) His law firm could still register the work and then sue for infringement, but even if it could get past the fair use defense, his damages would be limited by his failure to register his letter with the Copyright Office before the alleged infringement.
Posting Attorney Todd Bennett’s Cease and Desist letter is a clear example of Fair Use. Attorneys should not be able to make threats and then hide from criticism behind the Copyright Act. Copyright laws are intended to protect writers, not be perverted into a tool of intimidation meant to squelch freedom of speech.
Mr. Bennett’s letter on behalf of the Bartons and our letter in response are posted at the end of this article.
SLAPP Suits and Freedom of Speech
Attorney Bennett’s letter was a typical SLAPP suit threat letter. A strategic lawsuit against public participation is a lawsuit intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition. SLAPP suits are illegal in many jurisdictions as they impede freedom of speech and as such are a violation of the First Amendment.
We are grateful to Herkimer’s Joyce Barton and Douglas Barton for their SLAPP suit threat. It inspired us to find fresh case law that grants us, as bloggers writing on matters of public concern, the same protections as that accorded traditional journalists, including the protection of New York’s awesome shield law for journalists. Under the shield law, as de facto journalists, we cannot be compelled to reveal our sources. We can and will cite as anonymous and protected, tips and information that come our way and are used in our posts. (Feel free to write us anonymously at email@example.com.)
A Double Burden of Proof of Libel and Slander by Bloggers as Journalists Now Lies with the Plaintiff
Those itching to hit bloggers with SLAPP suits must now meet a huge burden of proof:
In 2014, in Obsidian Finance Group LLC and Kevin Padrick vs. Crystal Cox, 12-3523, the 9th Circuit Court ruled unanimously for the Cox, who appeared Pro Se:“We hold that liability for a defamatory blog post involving a matter of public concern cannot be imposed without proof of fault and actual damages,” wrote Judge Horowitz. “Bloggers gets same speech protections as traditional press: U.S. court,” headlined Reuters.
Joyce Barton, Douglas Barton or anyone else shrieking slander, would have to not only prove our posts were false, they would also have to prove that we had actual knowledge that a post was false when we published it, notedUCLA School of Law professor Eugene Volokh commenting on the Obsidian ruling in the Reuter’s article. This is a tall hurdle.
Possible New Source of Legal Advice for the Bartons: Harriett Tangorra?
As noted at the start, the Barton’s friend and neighbor Curtis Cool (aka Curtis Dolan) has cited his landlord, Harriett Tangorra, as the source of his advice on the illegality of our surveillance cameras. Mrs. Tangorra is the Senior Court Clerk of the Herkimer Supreme Court. Maybe Joyce Barton should give her a call for legal advice?
Here’s Curtis on June 11th, quoting Harriett Tangorra to the police in yet another failed attempt to have us arrested for being on a public sidewalk, and for monitoring his yard for dangerous late night fires:
The Herkimer police were unmoved. Video surveillance continued, and more illegal fires were recorded, reported and responded to. This week Curtis Cool, aka Curtis Dolan, escalated to almost hysterical threats of bodily harm against my wife and I following a fire department and a police visit the previous night–visits in which as usual no Herkimer police or fire official cited him.
Why Curtis Cool’s overreaction and such fear of surveillance cameras? Reviewing our data and observations with new eyes, we think Curtis may have feared exposure of deeds far darker than fire. Stay tuned.
Update – 11/11/16. Shortly after this post was published, Curtis Cool, aka Curtis Dolan, cut and ran, abruptly moving to an undisclosed location. Curtis may have thought our hints of dark deed’s were related to our observations of his interactions with small children. If so, he was right.
Bartons’ SLAPP suit letter and Herkimer Post’s response
Stephen Ames Berry and Linda Kaidan live in Pleasant Avenue’s landmark Camera House.