Articles Posted in Defamation / Libel / Slander

Last week a Florida jury awarded Hulk Hogan $115 million in his lawsuit against Gawker.com for posting his sex tapes online, and without his permission. Weeks earlier, a Nashville jury awarded sportscaster Erin Andrews $55 million in her lawsuit against a peeping tom and the hotel company that was negligently complicit in enabling him to secretly record her and post nude video of her on the internet. Both cases highlight the surging importance of internet privacy laws—both criminal and civil privacy laws—and remind us that police, prosecutors and the civil courts are rallying around a zero tolerance mentality in enforcing these laws.

Surprising?  Not really.  This nationwide trend is hitting home here in Connecticut through the increase in Voyeurism arrests in Connecticut…

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The best criminal law firms in Stamford, Greenwich and Danbury Connecticut are often asked… what’s the difference between a “nolle” and a “dismissal” in the Connecticut criminal courts.   While both nolles / nollies and dismissals result in the conclusion of your Connecticut criminal arrest case, the top Stamford, Greenwich and Wilton Connecticut criminal lawyers and attorneys know that a dismissal is by far the best result, although it is not always available. So how do you know when to take a nolle and run? Or on the other hand, how do you know when to keep pushing for a dismissal of your Stamford, Norwalk, Bridgeport or Norwalk Connecticut court case?

It’s tricky but here a few things to think about before you make your decision…
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As many of the best Stamford, Greenwich, Wilton and Darien Connecticut criminal lawyers and attorneys are realizing these days, getting your Connecticut arrest dismissed in court is just half the battle. These days, getting your Stamford, Greenwich, Wilton and Darien Connecticut online arrest report offline and removed from the internet and search engines is now just as important as fighting the underlying arrest itself. Online reputation management could not be more critical these days. Employment background checks start with Google and Yahoo searches, and with online police blotters continuing to be the most frequently viewed pages of these online newspaper websites, it’s no wonder that the top Stamford, Greenwich and Connecticut criminal lawyers and attorneys are getting more and more calls about how clients who earn dismissals in court can get their arrest reports taken offline.

So are the best Connecticut internet law firms actually having success in removing online arrest reports from news websites and search engines? Absolutely. Keep reading for more on the exciting progress being accomplished…

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In 2014, we received an unprecedented number of calls from people who were arrested in Stamford and Greenwich Connecticut for domestic violence, DUI / DWI, or Disorderly Conduct…who did everything the court asked them to…and had their cases dismissed and erased by operation of Connecticut law.  Yet their online arrest reports continued to be published on the Internet–specifically on various online police blotters…causing them devastating damage to their reputation and employment prospects.

And they all asked the same question…can we help them?

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On July 15, 2014, felony murder charges against a Mark Sherman Law client stemming from a 2009 Stamford homicide were dismissed.  After nearly 4 years of pre-trial motions and intense investigation by the Mark Sherman Law criminal lawyers, coupled with the unwavering strength and perseverance of our client and his family, he was finally vindicated,  All charges related to this homicide were dismissed.

As any top Stamford criminal lawyer attorney will tell you, it is very rare for prosecutors to drop murder charges against a defendant.  Yet it happened here.    Here’s the story…

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With social media and online news being disseminated over the internet at lightning speed, people in Connecticut who have arrest records are finding it more difficult to remove their arrest reports from the internet after their case has been dismissed and all charges have been dropped.  This is particularly frustrating for people who have been arrested in Stamford, Greenwich, Darien, Westport, Wilton, Fairfield, Norwalk and New Canaan, as well as other Connecticut jurisdictions, because while Connecticut has a generous Erasure Statute, online media entities are largely ignoring the statute’s directives.

Here’s how it works:  you are arrested for a misdemeanor or felony, including a DWI / DUI, a domestic violence crime, a drug crime, or a larceny, and you apply for a court diversionary program like the Alcohol Education Program, the Accelerated Rehabilitation Program, the Drug Education Program, or the Family Violence Education Program.  The Connecticut Superior Court admits you into the program, you stay out of trouble, and your criminal charges are dismissed or, alternatively, the charges are nolled (meaning the prosecutors drop your case and an automatic dismissal automatically takes effect 13 months from the nolle date).

It is at this dismissal stage and date where the Connecticut Erasure Statute, C.G.S. § 54-142a(e) kicks in and legally erases your arrest and court records.  The Erasure Statute goes on to authorize that after the dismissal date, you may actually “swear under oath” that you have never been arrested.

With your arrest now erased, wouldn’t it be logical that all reports of your arrest now come off the internet?  Not so fast.  Despite the clear intention of the Connecticut Erasure Law, websites are under no obligation to take down the old arrest reports.  They argue their First Amendment rights allow them to continue to publish your old, erased arrest.  So as a result, you now have been branded with a digital scarlet letter for all future employers, landlords, credit checkers, background checkers, and internet surfers to permanently discover in any internet search of your name.  

If it seems unfair, that’s because it is.

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