Michael Gill, who hosts a weekly radio show and operates a website called “State of Corruption,” is being sued by real estate developer Dick Anagost, banker William Griener and AutoFair CEO Andrew Crews, according to a report by the New Hampshire Union Leader. All three businessmen are civic leaders in Manchester, N.H. But Gill has called them “drug dealers” – or in Griener’s case, an “extortionist” – on his website, on his radio show and even on electronic billboards in the area.
The three men sued Gill, the owner of Mortgage Specialists, Inc., in April, seeking $15 million in damages, according to the Union Leader. They recently sought a court order barring Gill from making further statements about them, arguing that Gill’s commentary on them could prejudice a jury.
However, Judge N. William Delker rejected the request, saying he could question prospective jurors about their knowledge of the case to ensure impartiality.
“There are less restrictive means of ensuring a fair trial than issuing a prior restraint on Gill’s speech,” Delker said in his ruling.
Lawyers for the businessmen said that Gill should be held to the same rules of professional conduct followed by attorneys, the Union Leader reported. Those rules limit the statements lawyers can make in advance of a trial. But Delker said those rules didn’t apply to Gill.
“To the extent that Gill is found to have made more defamatory statements or continued to leave defamatory statements on the Internet subject to public view for a longer period of time, the plaintiffs may be able to prove greater damage to their reputation or improve the plaintiff’s chances of establishing enhanced compensatory damages,” Delker ruled. “This would result in greater monetary damages, and presumably a greater deterrent effect.”
Gill is known in the area for his provocative statements and brushes with the legal system. For years, he’s used his electronic signs to accuse lawyers, judges and politicians of corruption. According to the Union Leader, the signs have also drawn “public dismay for their use of vulgar language.”
In March, a judge ordered Gill to spend 10 days in jail for secretly recording his divorce proceedings. He’d been allowed to record the proceedings – within limitations – prior to that, according to the Union Leader. But his ex-wife objected when it was discovered that he was posting financial and mental health information online in violation of court orders.
A New Hampshire mortgage broker is being sued for $15 million by three businessmen who claim he defamed them.