LD39 Flashpoint: Schepisi Attorney Fires off a ‘Cease and Desist’ Letter to Democrats

Repeatedly zapped by what her tormentors say are really gnat-sized attacks, Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-39) is threatening to drop a nuke in response, summoning legal powerhouse Gibbons PC and signaling her absolute unwillingness to participate in the ongoing silliness.

Democrats see it as a campaign, where free-wheeling punches are thrown, some landing, some not, with everyone ultimately ending up at the same bar to have a good laugh.

But Schepisi doesn’t se it that way.

There’s a back story to how things got rough.

Trying to hold onto his leadership spot, Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) is hurling a late mail kitchen sink at Schepisi and Schepisi’s running mate, Assemblyman Bob Auth (R-39), in an effort to pry maybe both of them but at least a napping Auth out of power and provide Prieto with a little more padding to try to withstand an already very muscular-looking Assemblyman Craig Coughlin (D-19).

But the assemblywoman doesn’t care about those Democratic Party WWF contests.

She just wants her seat back, without being defamed in the process, she says.

So yesterday, Gibbons PC Director Thomas J. Cafferty fired off a letter on behalf of the incumbent Republican Assemblywoman to the Committee to Elect Linda Schwager, Jannie Chung and Annie Hausmann.

Cafferty says the Democrats have published, or have caused to be published, various political advertisements containing false and defamatory statements about Schepisi, including: (1) an advertisement dated October 13, 2017, which contains fictitious quotes regarding the Sandy Hook shooting that are falsely attributed to his client; and (2) an advertisement dated October 27, 2017, which depicts images of men with machine guns and includes the statement “Auth and Schepisi have headlined events hosted by the head of a domestic terrorist militia.”

“On behalf of Ms. Schepisi, I hereby demand that you and any and all of your employees, representatives and/or agents, immediately cease and desist the publication of the above-referenced advertisements and any and all other false and defamatory statements about Ms. Schepisi,” Cafferty wrote. “I also insist that you retract the above-referenced advertisements and any and all other false and defamatory statements that you have published about Ms. Schepisi in at least as prominent a location and in the same manner as the original advertisements were published, with a copy to me.”

The attorney also warned about the sanctioning of an unprivileged, false and a defamatory statement concerning his plaintiff, communicated to a third party with the requisite level of fault and which causes damage.  See Govito v. W. Jersey Health System, Inc., 332 N.J. Super. 293, 305-06 (App. Div. 2000).

“he level of fault when the statement concerns a public official or public figure, like Ms. Schepisi, is actual malice, which is the knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard for the truth,” Cafferty said. “Durando v. Nutley Sun, 209 N.J. 235, 249 (2012).  In other words, the actual malice standard is satisfied when the publisher of the statement entertained serious doubts as to the truth of that statement.  St. Amant v. Thompson, 390 U.S. 727, 731 (1968).”

The attorney noted that Schepisi advised the Democrats on multiple occasions that the statements contained in their advertisements are false.

“You have, however, ignored Ms. Schepisi.  Consequently, you have published these advertisements with reckless disregard for the truth of the statements contained therein and with the requisite knowledge of falsity,” Cafferty wrote. “If you do not cease publication of any and all false and defamatory statements about Ms. Schepisi, I will have no choice but to advise my client of all legal remedies available to her including, without limitation, instituting a lawsuit against you.”

It goes without saying that Democrats are irritated by Schepisi’s response to a real campaign, noting off the record her leafy safety zone in a longtime assumed-to-be Republican district. One Democrats said she’s simply unused to running in a real race, but the assemblywoman, of course, disagrees withat assessment.


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