Klein, Gillam reach agreement over defamation lawsuit

Marilyn Tennissen Jun. 12, 2008, 9:51am

Philip Klein

A defamation lawsuit filed last year by a local JP against an Internet blogger recently ended without further litigation.

Precinct 8 Justice of the Peace Tom Gillam dropped his lawsuit against Philip Klein, who writes a blog on setpoliticalreview.com.

The suit was filed last April when Klein wrote on his Web site that the judge engaged in an inappropriate sexual act with a woman at the Jefferson County Sub-Courthouse in Port Arthur. He said an employee walked in on Gillam during the alleged act, became upset and left, slamming a glass door behind her, causing the glass to shatter.

Gillam's lawsuit, filed by Beaumont attorneys Brent Coon and Gerald Eddins on April 10, 2007, states that he was doing paperwork alone on the night in question. He claims he was looking for two computer disks, called his court coordinator at home for help and she returned to the courthouse to find them. The glass door broke when she banged on it for someone to let her in, Gillam claimed.

"At trial irrefutable evidence will be presented that proves Mr. Klein's public and private statements regarding this matter to be unequivocally and unconditionally false," Gillam's suit stated.

"The supporting evidence will include courthouse surveillance videotape that conclusively shows the story to be lies. Mr. Klein has used the Internet to spread his bogus story throughout Texas and beyond. Judge Gillam's only recourse is to use the legal system to bring an end to the shameless and outrageous personal attack upon his character and reputation.

"As a result of Klein's false and defamatory statements, the plaintiff has endured shame, embarrassment, humiliation, and mental pain and anguish. For example, people in the cafeteria pointing and snickering at him," the plaintiff's original petition said.

Klein announced on the Southeast Texas Political Review Web site June 10 that after conducting a complete investigation into the claims, he now feels "he must side with Judge Gillam and his denial of the incident."

In turn, Gillam dropped the defamation suit against Klein, and Klein stated that "no money changed hands" and "no other agreements were made."

The blogger also denied media reports that the Southeast Texas Political Review would print a retraction of its original story from March 2007.

Following is a portion of Klein's statement:

"In March of 2007, sources called the Review telling us there was an incident of an encounter between a Judge and somebody – and an employee that may have been witness to the event and slammed a glass door and broke it. The Review published the story and it appeared on this Web site in March and again in April of this past year. It was further discussed on the Political Review Radio show on KOLE Radio.

Since that time, the Review has conducted a full and complete investigation into the claims. We have discovered numerous inaccuracies from witnesses and at least one of the original sources to the story has been found to have been lying to the Review.

As well, this witness may have had a political agenda towards the judge in an attempt to run for the Judge's office. The Review has had an opportunity to view the surveillance videotape which leads support to Judge Gillam's side of the story.

Evidence that we now have obtained indicates that the Review must side with Judge Gilliam and his denial of the incident. Seemingly,

Judge Gillam is a victim in an attempt to smear him in the court of public opinion and that is not fair to him, his family, supporters and any other public person that may choose to serve their community. In the Review's opinion, Judge Gillam is innocent of the accusations against him.

Judge Gillam is due an apology from those that attempted to smear his name by using this Web site and the media in general in an attempt to garner office."

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