June 30, 2016 at 16:40 EDM: Well this post is clearly in need of some updating; I see several of the media links I posted here have vanished. (And they say nothing ever disappears from the Internet.) What actually brought me here today, however, was a decision reported by TMZ.com today in a U.S.A. libel lawsuit brought by Jerry Heller against the producers of ‘Straight Outta Compton:’ http://www.tmz.com/2016/06/30/straight-outta-compton-lawsuit-jerry-heller/ that shows in essence what is wrong with American libel law standards. The decision handed down states that in the part of Heller’s lawsuit allowed to proceed, Heller must now prove that he didn’t say the defamatory things the film alleges he said; and further, Heller must now prove that the producers acted with malice when they alleged he said them. And those two things right there are what’s wrong with American libel law.
Go home today and prove to your spouse that you’re not having an affair. Go ahead. Try it. The next time your spouse complains about something you did or haven’t done, prove they’re speaking with malice. When you visualize trying those two things, you should have a better idea if you didn’t previously, of just how hard it is to (i) disprove a negative; and (ii) prove malice. Malice torts are infamously difficult to prove in any case. And the unfairness of having the burden to to prove you didn’t do something is the reason for the fundamental legal principle in a democracy that one is innocent until proven guilty. Yet, the Americans carry on and don’t seem to see a problem with their libel law.
Back to this post: a number of the links have disappeared regarding di Popolo’s case with Watson, but CBC links have staying power: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/hells-angel-damiano-di-popolo-sues-gangsters-out-blogger-for-defamation-1.3098743 Unfortunately it doesn’t appear the CBC bothered to update that post with information regarding the decision. However, the CBC has kept up with news about the Hells Angels in general, and so here is more support for the view of the Hells Angels as being a “criminal organization:” http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/14-hells-angels-plead-guilty-to-conspiracy-to-commit-murder-1.3064814 http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/hells-angels-targeted-in-organized-crime-busts-in-saskatchewan-alberta-1.2901967 as well as a link to an excellent Vancouver blogger on organized crime, Kim Nolan: http://vancouversun.com/news/staff-blogs/organized-crime-and-the-port-part-one-of-my-series
……………….end of June 30 update………….
After the Hells Angels had brought themselves to my attention for the third time in as many years, (see https://marnietunay2.wordpress.com/2012/11/09/a-summary-review-of-out-in-bad-standings-by-ex-bandido-edward-winterhalder/ ), I began to take a (mild) interest in their press-reported activities; moreover, I am always interested in libel torts, especially Canadian ones. The standard is more fair to plaintiffs in Canada, requiring the defendants to meet a burden of proof that defamatory material is true, unlike the American standard, which puts the burden to prove it’s not true on the plaintiff.
All Canadian bloggers who write about controversial things or people should have a copy of ‘Canadian Libel and Slander Actions’ by Roger D. McConchie and David A. Potts as their blogging bible. (‘Libel,’ by Peter A. Downard is a nice addition, too.) Unfortunately, Dennis Watson had evidently never heard of either book, and his posts on (reputed) Canadian Hells Angel Damiano di Popolo clearly reflected his ignorance of libel law, gauging by di Popolo’s statement of claim filed in May 2015, in the Supreme Court of British Columbia: https://www.scribd.com/doc/267344026/Notice-of-Civil-Claim-Damiano-di-Popolo-v-Dennis-Watson Assuming the statements alleged in that claim to be factual as regards the contents of what Watson had said about the (reputed) Hells Angel, the claim reads like an outstanding primer on what not to say as a blogger in Canada.
Damiano di Popolo, who has been alleged by mainstream media to be a member of Vancouver’s East End Hells Angels: http://www.vancouversun.com/Damiano+Dipopolo+front+East+chapter+Hells+Angels+with+other+assorted+Hells+Angels+Swollen+Members+video/11100554/story.html has just settled his beef with Dennis Watson: http://www.theprovince.com/news/Judge+orders+Surrey+blogger+take+down+posts+about+Hells+Angel+stop+writing+about/11258526/story.html
Now, I think Dennis Watson must have had a very good lawyer, because he got off very easy, in my opinion, based on what I can see in di Popolo’s claim as regards what Watson actually said. Having said that, however, there are one or two things about di Popolo’s claim that catch my eye: https://www.scribd.com/doc/267344026/Notice-of-Civil-Claim-Damiano-di-Popolo-v-Dennis-Watson In section 4, item g of that claim, you’ll note that it claims Dennis Watson had said that di Popolo is “a member of a criminal organization.” Clearly, di Popolo was contesting Watson’s claim that di Popolo belongs to a criminal organization, and that is also how the mainstream media interpreted di Popolo’s legal notice as well: http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/fraser-valley/make+honest+living+Hells+Angel+sues+Surrey+blogger/11100524/story.html
However, there are solid grounds in Canada as a whole for considering the Hells Angels to be a criminal organization. In Manitoba, for example, being a Hells Angels member or associate is grounds for deportation for foreigners: http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/hells-angels-members-deported-as-refugee-board-declares-bike-gang-a-criminal-organization and the Manitoba courts have backed up the Immigration and Refugee Board in that respect: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/Manitoba-first-to-declare-Hells-Angels-criminal-organization-246550061.html They’ve also been declared a criminal organization in Quebec, and here is just one small part of the reason why: http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=5462995&File=39#_ftn13
While they have not yet been declared unilaterally in B.C. to be a “criminal organization,” it’s clear the cops at least are leaning that way: http://www.canadianlawyermag.com/legalfeeds/1725/arvay-to-represent-hells-angels-in-challenge-of-b-c-forfeiture-law.html
Not that being a member of a criminal organization, (even if that had been proven to be true, which it has not), would make Damiano di Popolo a criminal himself, an important fact that Dennis Watson evidently overlooked. For one thing, di Popolo could be a cop. It would not be the first time the Hells Angels had ever been infiltrated. Or, he could be an informer. Either one would put him on the side of the good guys, in the eyes of most people, now, wouldn’t it. Or, maybe he just likes the huge and security-free loans he can (allegedly) get from the Angels: http://www.canada.com/story.html?id=1d41b9e1-e88e-4ff1-b190-af84a3eca940 And maybe the Angels don’t need him for any criminal activities because he has other benefits for them, like, say, for example, useful social contacts. Di Popolo clearly gets around: real estate magnate, clothing store owner, longshoreman, Little League coach and regular Catholic church attendee.
Gosh, who wouldn’t want to get in good with a guy like that?