by Matt Lacy –
After more than eight years of litigation, Weld County has settled a case against a blogger that used satire to show a picture of a college professor with a Hitler moustache.
Tom Mink, publisher of the Howling Pig, had his computer confiscated by law enforcement after a University of Northern Colorado professor accused him of libel.
Mink had called Junius Peake, “Junius Puke” on the Howling Pig, his self-published newsletter.
Under Colorado’s criminal libel statute, which said published statements “tending to blacken the memory of one who is dead, or impeach the honesty, integrity, virtue, or reputation or expose the natural defects of one who is alive,” a search warrant was issued and Mink’s computer was confiscated.
While the computer was returned fairly quickly and the case dropped, Mink sued Susan Knox, the former prosecutor who signed off on the warrant. The purpose of the lawsuit was to challenge the constitutionality of the state’s libel law.
In May, Judge Lewis Babcock granted an ACLU motion for summary judgment against Knox. At the time Mark Silverstein, president of the ACLU said the ruling was significant because “it may be one of the only, if not the only, written judicial opinion that holds a prosecutor legally responsible for approving a search warrant application that ultimately results in an illegal search.”
Yesterday, the ACLU announced that the case had been settled for $425,000 the majority of which will go towards legal fees. Mink’s share of the settlement is $25,000.