(Image: Aurora, Ontario website, used without permission.)
A court in Ontario has ordered a former mayor to pay $21,275 in legal bills accumulated by bloggers defending themselves against a local politician’s attempt to silence online criticism.
In 2010, Phyllis Morris, then mayor of Aurora, Ontario, waged a litigation campaign against online critics while she was running for re-election. Notably, she got the town council to foot the bill for the lawsuit with taxpayer money. Months later, well after she lost the election, she voluntarily dismissed her lawsuit.
But defendants William Hogg, blog proprietor-moderator, and Richard Johnson, a blog contributor, kept the case file open to press the court for a money award to pay their defense bills.
Their push paid off.
According to the Toronto Star, in making the award, the Ontario Superior Court characterized Morris’ lawsuit as an attempt to hit her critics “quickly and hard,” in order to quiet her opponents “sooner rather than later in the weeks leading up to the October 2010 elections.”
Blogger Christopher Watts has more about the court’s award, plus a link to the court’s opinion, on his blog, Temporary Sanity.
Prior coverage on Blog Law Blog:
- October 26th, 2011: It’s Over in Aurora: Ex-Mayor in Ontario Gives Up on Lawsuit Against Blog
- January 13, 2011: Town in Ontario Stops Footing Legal Bills for Blog Lawsuit
Coverage of the fee award:
- Aurora Citizen blogJudge Rules Morris Tried to Silence Her Critics–Ordered to pay $21,000 in Costs for SLAPP Litigation
- Toronto Star:
Former Aurora mayor Phyllis Morris must pay critical website’s $21,000 legal bill
- Christopher Watts on the Temporary Sanity blog: B****h SLAPPED
- Sean Pearce on YorkRegion.com: Former Aurora mayor on hook for legal costs