First Amendment Substantial Truth Defense

Supreme Court Writ on First Amendment

The August 14, 2019 Order of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit denying Schiano’s Petition for enc banc review, which decision is herein sought to be reviewed was not published.  The June 7, 2019, Opinion of the Panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit was unpublished, but can be found at Schiano v. Friedman, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 17105 (11th Cir. 2019).  The September 26, 2017, Opinion of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida was unpublished, but can be found at Friedman v. Schiano, No. 16-cv-81975-BB, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159584 (S.D. Fla. January 6, 2017).              The statutory provision believed to confer on this Court jurisdiction to review on a writ of certiorari the judgment or order in question is 28 U.S.C. §1257.  Read the writ here: Cert Petition- First Amendment

Whether substantial truth is a complete defense to defamation under the First Amendment, regardless of the motives of the speaker?

Schiano owned Hotwiremedia.com, a “party vendor directory” that sold listing space and banner advertisements on its website to service companies that catered to the party planning industry.  A few months after Schiano trained Freidman to maintain Hotwiremedia.com’s database and to sell vendor listings, Freidman represented to clients of HotWireMedia.com that Hotwiremedia.com was purchased by Friedman and Freidman’s Planningforevents.com company. Thereafter, Appellee Freidman charged Hotwiremedia.com clients’ credit cards for Freidman’s commissions and for banner ad upgrades. Schiano reported Friedman’s actions to the local Police Department and then started a webpage on the Hotwiremedia.com website documenting Appellee Freidman’s fraud. Thereafter, Appellee Freidman accused Appellant Schiano online of being, among other things, a child molester and rapist. Schiano’s business did not survive Freidman’s accusations, and he was forced to leave his home, opting to rent the property due to the loss of business. Schiano was forced to move from his home at 3840 Northwest 17th Avenue, Oakland Park, Florida 33334 to 400 NW 53rd Court, Oakland Park, Florida, 33309. As of December 12, 2016, Schiano’s usual place of abode was the property at 400 NW 53rd Street.

Schiano added that the District Court erroneously failed to recognize Schiano’s truth defense as a complete defense to allegations of defamation and failed to properly consider the economic burden imposed on Schiano by the $1,310,535.08 judgment and injunctions that permanently shut down Schiano’s business websites.

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