An illegal-alien day laborer who attacked a U.S. photographer at a notorious San Diego day labor site in 2006, was awarded $2,500 in damages for “defamation per se” by Judge Ronald Styn in a non-jury trial in San Diego Superior Court.
The Mexican national plaintiff, Alberto Jimenez, who was illegally in the country at the time of the attack of Los Angeles photographer John Monti, sued San Diego Minutemen founder Jeff Schwilk for defamation for calling the illegal immigrant attackers “criminals” when he forwarded an email with Monti’s pictures of Jimenez and six other suspects who were at the scene of the crime.
Initially the lawsuit was filed in October 2007 and all seven men shown on the flyer sued Schwilk, Monti, and Fox News Corporation for defamation. However, Fox News and Monti were eventually dismissed from the case in 2008 and 2009 and six of the seven plaintiffs dropped their lawsuits against Schwilk in February, leaving only Jimenez vs. Schwilk for the one-day judge-only trial.
When the trial began, Jimenez was not in the courtroom to meet his accuser. Schwilk immediately asked Judge Styn for a directed verdict to dismiss the case, but the judge opted to start the trial without him and gave Jimenez additional time to appear in court as his attorney said he was running late. The plaintiff’s attorney, Dan Gilleon, claimed his client was trying to get across the border and needed more time because he was a Tijuana, Mexico resident.
As testimony began Schwilk admitted that he had forwarded Monti’s ‘wanted’ flyer by email the day after the attack. The email was sent to a dozen law enforcement and trusted community leaders so they could be on the lookout for the suspects who were still at large. He explained anyone with knowledge of these pictured men needed to notify San Diego Police Department.
The victim, Mr. Monti then testified that Jimenez was indeed one of the seven men who attacked him from “behind and knocked him into the busy boulevard that Saturday morning in 2006.” Monti explained he had gone to the day labor site to investigate the connection between the street-side illegal alien hiring site and child prostitution in the nearby the migrant camps where many of the day laborers live.
Monti also said under oath that Jimenez had previously testified in his criminal trial in 2007 that he was an illegal alien and had no legal papers to gain employment legally in the U.S.
After a lunch break the defense called Jimenez to the witness stand, but Jimenez still had not arrived in court 4 1/2 hours after the start of the trial.
Gilleon then claimed that “Jimenez’ wife was having surgery and he could not attend the trial that day.” Judge Styn was clearly tired of the excuses, however he allowed the trial to continue. It became clear the real reason Jimenez could not come to the trial was because he was not eligible to enter the country legally from his home in Tijuana, Mexico.
Schwilk again asked Judge Styn for a directed verdict, but again the judge declined, he wanted to proceed with closing statements. Schwilk pointed out to the judge that he had a right to question his accuser and the judge seemed to agree, but he also wanted to conclude the trial without the plaintiff.
After a 15-minute recess, Judge Styn returned with his verdict finding Schwilk liable for one count of defamation for “carelessly” calling Jimenez a “criminal.” Schwilk plans to appeal.
Asked about the verdict, Schwilk said, “Judge Styn not only ruled against our protection of free speech, he is attempting to de-criminalize illegal aliens and the crimes they commit on American soil. Styn is yet another example of a bad judge attempting to legislate from the bench.”
Fellow San Diego Minuteman Barry Shipley observed the entire 5-hour trial and agreed.
“The judge completely ignored the court testimony that Jimenez was a criminal illegal alien and that the truth is a defense in a defamation case. Judge Styn should be removed from the bench,” Shipley explained. “He is a danger to our American Constitutional rights”.
The plaintiff’s attorney Daniel Gilleon was obviously pleased with the outcome of the trial. “We are very pleased with Judge Ronald Styn’s ruling. Once again, the Court system has shown that defamation is Schwilk’s chief weapon in his ‘war’ against illegal immigration. The judgments against Schwilk are starting to pile up.”
Schwilk saw it differently; “Of course La Raza and agents of the Mexican Government (Gilleon’s employers) are pleased that they have been able to chip away at the U.S. First Amendment. Their greatest fear in the border and immigration debate is truth tellers like myself and other leaders fighting daily to secure America from the mass criminal invasion from Mexico. Unfortunately for them, they will never shut down our free speech”.