As human beings who don’t write professionally have gained the ability to communicate in text to a large number of people via the Internet, legal experts have watched closely to see how the libel laws might change. Until recently, however, not a single case involving libel and Twitter had gone to trial. Luckily, Courtney Love changed that earlier this month.
For eight days, a jury heard a slew of witnesses and legal experts testify as to whether Love defamed her former attorney, Rhonda Holmes, in a tweet all the way back in 2010. According to The Los Angeles Times, it only took the jury a grand total of three hours to find Love not guilty.
Here’s the tweet in question...
"@noozjunkie I was ... devastated when Rhonda J Holmes Esq of San Diego was bought off @fairnewsspears perhaps you can get a quote."
Love deleted the tweet almost immediately, supposedly because she was trying to send a direct message and clicked the wrong button. Either way, very few people actually saw the tweet until Holmes decided to file a lawsuit about it. In the end, the jury ruled that while the statement was false, Love didn’t know it was false at the time she made it. Therefore, it wasn’t libel and Holmes has no grounds to sue.
Love enlisted the help of Holmes all the way back in late 2008 to handle some financial matters related to the Nirvana estate (there’s no love lost there either). After about six months, however, the relationship soured. Holmes would have you believe it was because of disagreements over substance abuse and problems communicating. Love, conversely, would have you believe the relationship went south over Holmes’ supposed legal incompetence.
Regardless, Love has vowed to be a whole lot nicer with her tweets moving forward. Not only would that make her seem like a more thoughtful person, it would also keep her out of the courtroom moving forward. Her wallet would no doubt be pretty happy about that, though I’m sure professors at Harvard Law School would gladly take a few more appeals, considering they'll likely be studying this case for years to come.