John Hoff, a/k/a Johnny Northside, just won in a big way, and it’s a case that gives me hope.

Jerry L. Moore v. John Hoff a/k/a Johnny Northside

It’s about freedom of speech, it’s about defamation, and it’s about tortious interference with a contract.  Johnny Northside is loved and hated, worshipped and vilified by many people I know.  It seems he’s one of those people who are a royal pain in the ass but are usually right, and in this case, he had the facts right, and he can’t and shouldn’t be held liable, so the Appellate Court said.  $50 this goes to the Supremes, of Minnesota, that is.

Hoff’s blog post is the kind of speech that the First Amendment is designed to protect. He was publishing information about a public figure that he believed was true (and that the jury determined was not false) and that involved an issue of public concern. See Dun & Bradstreet, Inc. v. Greenmoss Builders, Inc., 472 U.S. 749, 759, 105 S. Ct. 2939, 2945 (1985) (noting that “speech on public issues occupies the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values” (quotation omitted)). Attaching liability to this speech would infringe on Hoff’s First Amendment rights.

First the Syllabus and then the bottom line:


1. A claim for tortious interference with a contract or prospective business advantage cannot be based on conveying true information to a third party.

2. When speech protected by the First Amendment is intertwined with allegedly tortious conduct, courts must carefully and explicitly delineate the tortious conduct on which liability is based so as not to infringe on a defendant’s constitutional rights. When there is no practical way to separate the tortious conduct from the protected speech, there is no liability as a matter of law.


Because a tortious-interference claim cannot be based upon true information and because the record does not contain sufficient evidence of conduct separate and distinct from Hoff’s constitutionally protected speech to sustain the verdict, we conclude that the district court erred by denying Hoff’s motion for JMOL. We therefore reverse and remand for the district court to enter judgment for Hoff.

Check out his blog here:

The Adventures of Johnny Northside

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