-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
Juan Carlos Vera will receive (US)$100,000 in a settlement of his lawsuit against James O’Keefe. The money is to be paid within 30 days and, as part of the settlement, O’Keefe “regrets any pain suffered by Mr. Vera or his family.” Vera was an employee of ACORN in National City, California, when, in 2009, James O’Keefe, posing as a law school student boyfriend (not a pimp) and Hannah Giles, dressed similarly to a prostitute, surreptitiously video-taped the encounter. A “severely edited” version was published by the late Andrew Breitbart and Vera was subsequently fired.
During the encounter, O’Keefe and Giles proposed smuggling young women into the United States to work as prostitutes. Unbeknownst to O’Keefe and Giles, Vera called his cousin, Detective Alejandro Hernandez of the National City Police Department, to report the incident. Breitbart worte: “Juan Vera called [his police officer] cousin LONG after videos were filmed.” However, according to a report from the California Attorney General’s Office, Vera called his cousin “Immediately after the couple left.” The detective, in turn, contacted a federal task force that deals in human smuggling.
The California Invasion of Privacy Act expressly bars secretly recording someone’s voice or image. O’Keefe and Giles were given immunity from prosecution in exchange for the complete and unedited videos. That immunity doesn’t apply to private lawsuits and Giles settled last summer for an undisclosed amount.
O’Keefe tried to obtain a motion for judgement on the pleading by claiming that he was protected by the First Amendment since he was a “journalist”. In his denial of the motion, Judge M. James Lorenz properly noted the Supreme Court of California case SHULMAN v. GROUP PRODUCTIONS INC, where the court found:
… no constitutional precedent or principle of which we are aware gives a reporter general license to intrude in an objectively offensive manner into private places, conversations or matters merely because the reporter thinks he or she may thereby find something that will warrant publication or broadcast.
Eugene Iredale, attorney for Vera, said O’Keefe and his people “requested confidentiality and we said no.”
Settling was a smart move for O’Keefe. It avoids the multiple news stories of the day-to-day proceedings of a court trial. One news story in the media about the settlement and that will soon be forgotten. Although O’Keefe has called the lawsuit “meritless,” the conservative media has not echoed his claim, preferring to keep the faithful ignorant.