Understanding Slander, Libel and False Light
When Good Men Working for You are Under Attack
County Executive Mike Gannon with his grandchild taking his oath of office administered by Circuit Court Judge Mark Rogers
A couple of years ago, I became the victim of a slanderous attack by a group of individuals hell bent on undermining the vote of the people of Cannon County who had elected me to a minor office. At least one of my attackers I had trusted as a friend. The attacks changed my life.
The attack on my reputation began shortly after I was elected as the chairman of an political organization. Despite electing both a State Representative and State Senator, the organization in Cannon County had become to focal point of infighting and repeated public issues which had become the laughing stock of the community. My promise upon election was to bring respect to the local organization and peace within the community. Little did I know, that was an impossible task.
While there is nothing good to say about the despicable people who stooped so low as to attempt to destroy my reputation as a good person for their own person gain, they did offer an additional incentive for me to take advantage of an opportunity to take my wife home and leave Woodbury. Something my wife had wanted to do for years.
Protecting yourself from unethical people is not easy. Fortunately for me, I am a skilled professional investigator with forensic computer training and a certified paralegal. I was able to easily gather the evidence which would prove that my attackers were maliciously and intentionally destroying my reputation and my life with lies and casting false light on anything and everything I did.
Despite my skills, all attempts to correct the lies, the insults and innuendoes casting false light on my character were quickly countered with more lies and more false accusations.
I realized that the people involve in the attack on me had become masters of propaganda and a system of bullying referred to as Mobbing. They used secret meetings and easily placed phone calls to enhance the Mobbing effect. In the words of their self appointed leader, Corey Davenport -
Attempting to offer a countering explanation to months and months of lies was very complex and even very intelligent people refused to take the time to sort through the deception and see the truth. The only hope for any justice, any salvation of my good name would have to come through the courts where the sick little mob would be forced under oath and the penalty of perjury to speak the truth.
As mentioned, at the request of my wife, I saw an opportunity to make an offer to buy a home in the community which we were married and leave. So if I was leaving, why file a law suit if I was just going to walk away? That is a good and a fair question that deserves an answer.
Purchasing a new home 2500 miles away is a long drawn out process. Taking legal action for slander, libel and false light requires quick actions as the statute of limitations are very short. One year for libel which is written, and only six months for slander which is spoken. False light which is a complex way of twisting the truth is also six months. If I waited to file the law suit, and the new home deal fell through, then I would have been stuck living among people in Woodbury who choose to lie and cheat in an effort to destroy my reputation and I would have no recourse available once the statue of limitations expired. So filing the law suit in a timely matter was essential.
There is no doubt in my mind that I would have won my case. Prior to moving, I had already beat their very capable attorney in oral arguments in Nashville Courts. An interesting twist is that their attorney was a guy named Summer Bouldin who is just happens to be the the same attorney representing the Cannon County Industrial Board. Personally, I find that too much to accept as a coincidence considering the connections to the IDB by the slanderous group. Why was the attorney normally being paid by the citizens of Cannon County defending members of a hostile political organization?
Mark Barker with one of his beautiful grandchildren
Tracy and Todd Hollandsworth -
After I moved on, I discovered all the lies and deception directed toward me, was shifted to others within the community. My anger from what had happen to me, resurfaced.
So why do I care who they lie about in Woodbury now? Well, firstly I really care about justice! And in my case justice was left undone. Admittedly, it was my choice but leaving the area was was in the best interest of my family. Secondly, I care about the people being attack now. They are good people all dedicated to public service and of the highest reputation in the community.
I consider Mark Barker a friend. I also became close to his bother Boyd. Their dad Ray, was a Cannon County Commissioner when I first came to Woodbury in 1993. Mark followed in his footsteps of public service, and Mark’s brother Boyd has served as the chair of the planning commission as long as I can remember. Their other brother, John is the manager of the local office of Middle Tennessee Electric. All respectable men.
Frankly, I don’t believe the Barker family needs anything financially from the citizens of Cannon County. As you drive from Woodbury to Murfreesboro on the John Bragg Highway the Barker family pretty much owns everything on both sides of the roadway from Parsley’s Market to the county line. They are a historic Cannon County family and successful members of the community.
Mike Gannon also served the Cannon County Commission in the 1990’s with Ray Barker. More recently he has become the longest serving County Executive ever in the history of Cannon County. His trust in the community as been displayed by the votes he has received. Other than political attacks which have all been unfounded, there is nothing to challenge his character. He and I have not always been on the same page, but when challenged I have always discovered that he was willing to seek advice of the Cannon County Attorney Mike Corley and do what was right.
I have also been at odds with Barbara Parker. However, she was originally elected to her position by the people and with a very short exception, reappointed over and over again to her position of trust educating the young people of Cannon County.
Commissioner Todd Hollandsworth as I recall first became a member of the Commission when it only met four times a year. Literally a Community lifesaver by occupation he has honorably served the community most of his adult life. Sadly, the one life he couldn’t save was one that surely was the dearest life to him, his own son Dyland.
So, if there is a value, a reason to “being from these parts” as opposed to being new to the county, it would be to know the reputations of the good men and women that you are blindly attacking casting false light on their reputations. And before you attack a public servant for placing his family above his duty as a commissioner, to understand the suffering his family has already endured .
I have often referred to the Facebook page published by John Wilkinson called Cannon County Reporter as False News. It is important to understand that under the Slander and Libel laws, Tennessee also recognizes False Light. What is false light? It is something that is written or spoken which puts a twist on things making a person look bad. Interestingly, the event can have truth to it, but be presented with a slant to harm another’s reputation. And for those who believe that public officials have to just suck it up and accept the attacks as part of their duty you are wrong. Public officials just have to prove that the slander, libel or false light were done with malicious intent. And frankly my dear, with the trash printed on the Facebook pages of the Cannon County Whiner, proving malicious intent is a piece of cake.