The second day of the Jerry Moore vs. John Hoff trial in Minneapolis brought some news for bloggers, some randomness and some very divergent testimonies over who is lying. Hoff and Moore have two very different stories, and each brought in witnesses to support their version of history.
The day started off with Judge Denise Reilly’s ruling that Hoff could not be held liable for anonymous comments on his blog, unless they were proven to have been written by him. In this civil lawsuit, Jerry Moore charges that Hoff libeled him by making false statements in a blog post and by allowing an anonymous comment to that post.
Moore’s attorney, Jill Clark, called Don Allen as a witness. Allen was once a defendant in the case, along with Hoff, but has since been dropped from the suit and is now a witness for Moore. (Read Allen’s original comment on Hoff’s blog post here.)
Under Clark’s questioning, Allen stated that he was sure Hoff had written the comment at issue. The anonymous comment on John Hoff’s June 21, 2009 blog post encouraged people to contact the University to get Jerry Moore fired. Allen made his claim based on his alleged familiarity with Hoff’s “style of writing.”
Allen also said it was common for bloggers to write anonymous comments. “All bloggers do that to start a conversation,” he said. (Read Dave Brauer’s post for more on this claim about blogging practice.)
Much of the discrepancy between the two stories involves the property on 1564 Hillside Ave. N., which was part of a scam that got Larry Maxwell in jail for fraud.
Minneapolis City Council Member Don Samuels was also called as a witness. Samuels testified that when he became aware of the complaint against Maxwell that named Jerry Moore as receiving $5,000 in the closing for the 1564 Hillside Ave, he asked Moore about it at a Jordan Area Community Council board meeting. Samuels said that, at that time, Moore said, “it was not a big deal” that he had done some work for Keith Reitman, the owner of the property. Samuels characterized Reitman as a “slumlord.”
Jerry Moore also testified at today’s trial. Moore said he had no relationship with Reitman other than JACC business. When Hoff’s lawyer, Paul Godfread, asked him if he talked to Reitman frequently, Moore said “not really.”
Two documents related to Moore are part of the controversy. One is a photocopy of a check made out to Moore, and the other is an invoice with his business name at the top, charging for consulting services to the amount of $5,000 in connection to the Hillside house. Both documents were presented at a previous trial, when Moore sued the JACC board after he was fired. Moore denied ever seeing the documents prior to the previous trial.
In the cross-examination of Moore by Hoff’s lawyer, it was revealed that the address on the top of the invoice was the address of a property that was formerly owned by Moore, which no longer exists.
Witnesses from both sides painted very different pictures of Hoff and Moore. While Don Samuels characterized Moore as “a suave, calm guy has an uncanny capacity for deception.” Michael Kestner, who formerly served on the Northside Marketing Task Force with Moore, described a positive impression of Moore, as someone who was articulate and who could “pull people together,” and called the accusations against Moore “a witch hunt.”
The defense didn’t quite finish their cross-examination of Moore, which will be completed tomorrow morning. Other witnesses may include Megan Goodmundson, Michael K. Browne, and the victims in the Maxwell case, John Foster and Melony Micheals.