A HuffPost writer being sued by a Fox News host for $50 million is fighting back

eric bolling

Attorneys representing a HuffPost contributing writer are fighting back against Fox News host Eric Bolling’s $50 million defamation lawsuit, calling it “utterly devoid of merit” and demanding that it be dismissed.

“The Summons with Notice you filed … is purposefully sparse on allegations, and does not identify which purportedly ‘false and misleading’ statements could possibly support a $50 million damages award,” Yashar Ali’s attorney, Patricia Glaser wrote in a letter addressed to Bolling’s attorney.

Bolling filed the defamation lawsuit against Ali, a paid freelancer under contract, who published allegations that Bolling sent lewd messages to some colleagues at Fox News. Attorneys for Bolling claim that Ali’s report had injured their client’s reputation “through the intentional and/or highly reckless publication of actionable false and misleading statements.”

Ali’s counsel are fighting the defamation accusation, saying that “there is no evidence of actual malice” and that Ali had “conducted a thorough investigation and verified his information with 14 independent sources.”

“As a result, Mr. Bolling, a public figure, is not entitled to any damages from Mr. Ali. Furthermore, truth is always a defense to defamation,” Glaser’s letter continued.

The fiery response also appeared to call out the specific target of the dispute. “We view your decision to sue Mr. Ali in his individual capacity, for $50 million, without also naming the Huffington Post, as a calculated effort to harass and intimidate Mr. Ali personally. It will not work,” the letter said.

“We welcome the opportunity to depose Mr. Bolling and review his message history, as we presume that you have instructed him to preserve communications,” the letter to Bollin’s attorney read. “At best, you failed to investigate Mr. Bolling’s claims, at worst, you were aware his claims were false but proceeded regardless.”

SEE ALSO: Fox News host Eric Bolling is suing a reporter for $50 million over a story about sexual-harassment allegations

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Criminal Minds Boss on That Cast Shake-Up: "Everything Was a Thoughtful Decision" – TV Guide

When Criminal Minds ended Season 12 in May with a car accident cliffhanger, showrunner Erica Messertold TV Guide that she “certainly hope[d]” the whole cast was returning for Season 13. But, she added, “If I’ve learned anything in all these 13 years it’s you can’t truly prepare for anything.”

A month later — and less than a year after Thomas Gibson was fired after an altercation with a writer-producer — the show, and its fans, were hit with another surprising cast shakeup in its long history of them. While A.J. Cook and Kirsten Vangsness secured raises to return after protracted negotiations, Damon Gupton, who joined the show midway through last season, was let go. A week later, Daniel Henney, who starred on the just-canceled spin-off Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, joined the mothership, essentially replacing Gupton’s Agent Stephen Walker.

“It was difficult,” Messer tells TV Guide. “As you know, these decisions aren’t made quickly or anything like that. Everything was a thoughtful decision.”

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Talk of moving Henney’s Agent Matthew Simmons to Criminal Minds began between network and studio executives and Messer not long after Beyond Borders was canceled. “‘The discussions were, ‘Do you think Daniel would want to join Criminal Minds?’ But of course to add one more that means someone’s not coming back and that’s never an easy thing when someone isn’t returning to the show.”

Eventually, Messer says, “the decision was made that made that Damon would not be returning and Daniel would be joining, so then it’s up to us to tell the stories and have them make sense.”

Damon Gupton, Criminal MindsDamon Gupton, Criminal Minds

The irony, of course, is that Gupton joined the show at the request of CBS to add an eighth character — making it the largest cast the show’s ever had at one time — following Gibson’s exit. It’s not unlike Rachel Nichols‘ addition in Season 6 and her subsequent dismissal during the summer hiatus after both Cook and Paget Brewster, who were dropped by CBS, returned for Season 7. “That’s never an easy thing to have those conversations with an artist,” Messer says. “You never want to have those. And [Gupton is] somebody who is so respected in our family of Criminal Minds.”

Worse, since Gupton’s first episode was in January and the back half of the season was heavily focused on Reid’s (Matthew Gray Gubler) imprisonment, Walker got the short end of the introduction and getting-to-know-you deal, which more than likely played a factor in why he was the one let go. Like they have done with past departures out of their control — Mandy Patinkin abruptly quitting in Season 3, Gibson’s exit — Messer says the show will lean into the reality of the situation.

“It did happen. Behind the scenes, we were dealing with, ‘Oh, this lovely person just came in and we were so lucky to work with him and it was not long enough, but there they go,'” she says. “And of course, it took about a minute before he was on something else amazing [The CW’s upcoming Black Lightning]. But those moments are just crummy.”

Walker’s exit — he was one of the people in the accident — will be handled in the premiere, which will also see Simmons’ full-time arrival to the BAU. Vangsness previously told TV Guide that a “scandal” caused Beyond Borders‘ globe-trotting IRT to “collapse,” and Messer teases that “we are acknowledging that they’re not together as a unit anymore.”

Daniel Henney, Criminal MindsDaniel Henney, Criminal Minds

“Introducing Daniel’s character into this world has been a good time,” she adds. “Everybody’s in love with him behind the scenes, so that makes things much easier. It’s lovely. He brings a new energy to the show.”

And after so many cast permutations in the past year — Adam Rodriguez also joined last year, while Brewster returned full time — let alone the fact that the show has seen a cast change every year since Season 9, Messer is hoping for some stability. But again, she knows not to expect it.

“We all know anything can happen here,” she says with a laugh. “I love everyone here. We’re having fun. We’re calling it our lucky 13 in the room. Just can’t believe we’ve been so fortunate to have been here for 13 years. We’ve been through so much. It’s crazy.”

Season 13 of Criminal Minds premieres Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 10/9c on CBS.

(Full disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS.)

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Commission interviews 17 candidates for Duval judge opening: 'Virtually everyone who applies is a Republican' – Florida Times-Union

Jacksonville’s Judicial Nominating Commission interviewed 17 candidates Friday who were hoping to fill a county judge vacancy. Some of those attorneys faced questions about their conservatism, their judicial philosophy and why a criminal defense attorney vigorously challenged prosecutors.

In Florida, attorneys have two ways to become a judge. One is to get elected, but at least in Jacksonville, rarely do lawyers challenge incumbent judges.

The other way is to get appointed. When a judgeship becomes vacant, a judicial nominating commission will assess candidates and send three to six to the governor to decide. To get the governor to decide, appointees often have to prove their conservative credentials.

“Virtually everyone who applies is a Republican and they say they’re a textualist, and they say they will apply the law,” commission member Patrick Kilbane said on Friday when interviewing applicant Frank Mackoul, an assistant public defender who spent 12 years in the Marines. “Give me more than that. Why you? Why now? Why are you the person that the governor’s looking for for the job?”

“I am a Republican,” Mackoul said with a laugh. “That’s by coincidence. I am a textualist. I am here to enforce the law. Why me? I bring a level of leadership and experience that separates me from the other candidates.”

County judges handle misdemeanors, evictions and small-claims court. They also decide whether criminal defendants should have to pay cash bond to be released before trial.

In Jacksonville, Gov. Rick Scott has favored appointing prosecutors and civil attorneys to judgeships over criminal defense attorneys. But this time, 12 of the 17 applicants had some form of recent criminal law experience, mostly as defense attorneys, but two were current prosecutors and one was a recent prosecutor.

“The criticism about you,” commission member Chip Bachara told Melina Buncome, a division chief at the public defender’s office, “is that you are perhaps overzealous and that perhaps your demeanor would not be appropriate on the bench, that perhaps you don’t give out leeway to the other side where you require the prosecutor’s office to prove every detail, as opposed to allowing some things that would be routinely uncontested to go forward.”

Buncome defended her zealousness, saying she’s merely ensuring the courts won’t later find she was ineffective. “What any of those prosecutors will tell you is, if they get me on a 3.850 [ineffective assistance of counsel claim], they’re very happy because they know I have dotted every I and crossed every T. If there’s a client who has been convicted, they know they can defend their conviction. … I don’t just try a case for today. I try a case for the future if it comes back so we can see a clear record of what happened.”

The state’s 26 nominating commissions are each made up of nine members. Scott gets to appoint five without restriction. The other four he appoints based on recommendations by the Florida Bar. Scott, however, has repeatedly rejected the Bar’s recommended attorneys, who are often viewed as more liberal.

He has said he wants judges who “say what the law is, rather than what it should be,” and he has favored appointing members of the conservative Federalist Society to the nominating commissions and to judgeships.

Jacksonville’s nominating commission asked most of the candidates about their judicial philosophy and what recent appellate decisions the applicant disagreed with. For example, many of the candidates were asked about the White House’s travel ban that has spurred a number of federal decisions limiting its scope. They were also frequently asked their opinion about a recent Florida Supreme Court decision that removed limits on how much money a medical malpractice lawsuit could be rewarded.

The open judgeship occurred when County Judge Eric Roberson was selected for the circuit bench, where he’s now a juvenile judge. Roberson listed his active involvement with the Federalist Society when he applied for that position.

Several of the applicants have already been recommended to Scott before, like the State Attorney’s Office’s legal director, Meredith Charbula, and Rhonda Peoples Waters, a criminal defense lawyer who also handles civil cases.

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