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Baron Harris Healey Wins Dismissal Of Defamation Suit Under Illinois Anti-SLAPP Law

August 2019

Former McHenry County Board candidates Orville Brettman and Ersel Schuster filed a defamation suit against the Illinois Integrity Fund, a political group behind a series of campaign flyers circulated during the March 2018 primary season urging voters not to elect Brettman and Schuster. The flyers included reprinted headlines from late 1970s newspaper articles regarding Brettman’s criminal involvement with the Legion of Justice, a right wing paramilitary group committed to eradicating communism and socialism in the United States. Those articles were based on Brettman’s testimony before a Cook County grand jury investigating ties between the Legion of Justice and a division of the Chicago Police Department known as the Red Squad. The flyers also included a reprinted headline indicating that death threats posted on a conservative McHenry County blog had been traced to Ersel Schuster’s home.¬† Natalie Harris filed an anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) motion seeking to dismiss both claims on the grounds that a copy of Brettman’s actual grand jury testimony pulled from the vaults and Lakewood Police Department records demonstrated that the flyer statements were true, rendering Brettman and Schuster’s claims meritless. Harris also argued that the lawsuit was retaliatory, intended to silence the Illinois Integrity Fund and punish its members for exercising protected First Amendment rights to criticize the government. The judge agreed, and dismissed the lawsuit. Under the Illinois Citizen Participation Act (the anti-SLAPP statute), Illinois Integrity Fund is entitled to recover their attorneys fees and costs.

https://www.nwherald.com/2019/08/21/judge-dismisses-brettman-and-schusters-defamation-suit/axfs13y/

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