Archive for slander

The Difference In Criminal & Civil Harassment – A Back-story In The Lawsuit

Posted in Lawsuit, Point of View with tags , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2013 by Joan Graves License: PublicDomain Keywords: people Author: AbiClipart Title: Magnifying Glass (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the lawsuit filed by Elaine Farris she states; “the Defendant, Patricia Columbia, swore out a false Criminal Complaint, alleging harassment against the Plaintiff’s niece, who is an employee of Fayette County Schools, in an attempt to further harass and embarrass the Plaintiff. The criminal conduct was alleged to have occurred on the day Elaine Farris was being evaluated.” Odd thing to find in a defamation suit against me, don’t you think? This is the only specific incident listed in her multi-page suit and I’m not even involved. With about a 100 other individuals I happen to be present when the alleged incident occurred so how come I’m the only one sued?

The suit claims that charges were filed as a means to “further embarrass her”. The problem there is that we never brought the charges to the attention of the public. Elaine did.  So, if she suffered embarrassment it was by her own hand.  But since she brought it up let’s talk about it.

It’s important to note that the niece, Tiffany Davis, is innocent until proven guilty. Her guilt or innocence rests in the hands of a jury of her peers not her aunt or public opinion. It is also important to note that Elaine Farris, as of the writing of this blog, has not been charged with any crime.

There are two types of harassment; criminal and civil. Davis’s alleged harassment is criminal. Criminal charges require presenting evidence to the county attorney who determines if it points to possible criminal activity. The county attorney is paid by tax payers not individuals and is under no obligation to bring a case to trial that doesn’t have merit. If Davis is found guilty a jury will determine her punishment may range from fines and community service to jail time.

The Columbias and I face civil harassment charges which have no criminal element. Cases like ours are handled by private attorneys who have no burden of proof at all. All that is needed is an accusation and money and you’ve got yourself a case. Sadly, a civil suit can be filed by anyone for any reason without the first shred of evidence. Civil cases are less about crime and more about punishment. And the punishment always comes in the form of a big fat check.

A civil suit is raised for one of two reasons. Someone has something happen to them, such as a fall or car accident and an attorney specializing in that area files a lawsuit on behalf of the injured. The other is what many call a spite, punishing or vindictive lawsuit. These suits are often fueled by someone wanting to exert influence and power over another, especially if the person being sued doesn’t have the financial means for a pay-out to end the torment. This type of suit drags on racking up hefty legal fees for the victim until a judge finally calls a halt to the charade and tosses the case. There may be other reasons for civil cases but as far as I can tell these are the main reasons.

Farris filed her lawsuit within days of her niece being served papers alleging criminal activity. Incidentally, the attorney for Davis’s criminal case and Farris’s civil one is of the same firm. Which opens a slew of ethical questions for me. Especially, considering the fact that Farris has refused to give a deposition detailing her claims in a suit she filed. It makes me wonder if the civil attorney is buying time to see how the criminal case fares in court. That is of course my own person speculation.

Obviously, Davis may be found innocent. But one thing is for absolute certain, it is not up to Farris or her attorney to determine if the accusations against Davis are false. Talk about slander. The County Attorney found sufficient evidence to proceed with a criminal case. Meanwhile, Farris uses a spite suit to slander the victim and potential witness. The only only individuals that have the authority to judge the merits of Davis case are those sitting in the jury box. The way I see it, for Farris and her attorney to publicly accuse Columbia of the crime of filing a false criminal complaint and then to try to pass that label on to me, is more than slander. It’s a flat-out lie and borderline criminal in itself.

School district sues parent over blog posts

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on January 9, 2013 by Joan Graves

I may be the “obnoxious parent” but that doesn’t make me wrong.

Millard Fillmore's Bathtub

You know, the obnoxious parent who stands up at every school board meeting, making the same boring point week after week, month after month, finally slipping into accusations about the ethical behavior of the board members and administrators who do not jump to the parent’s wishes — yeah, that one.

She’s a thorn in the side of any district governing board, but often enough correct about new policies, and sometimes in exposing wrongdoing, that most boards tolerate the barbs and try to fix the problems legitimately pointed out.

But what if the parent “thorn” has a blog?

The drama unfolded in Galveston; as of right now, it looks as though the district will back down from its threat after the blogger held fast; surely this will not be the last of such stories we see.

The school district in Galveston, Texas, threatened to sue a parent for views expressed…

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School Superintendent Files Lawsuit Over FB Posts – Sound Familiar?

Posted in Elaine Farris, In The News, Lawsuit, National Stories with tags , , , , , , on January 9, 2013 by Joan Graves

It seems we are not alone. This article is eerily similar to our current situation.  What I found most interesting was that this superintendent was also very vague in the complaint. I am amazed that our court system allows lawsuits to even be filed without identifying specific details about what the crime is supposed to be. No wonder how court systems are backed up.

School Superintendent Files Lawsuit Over Facebook Posts – – Tulsa, OK – News, Weather, Video and Sports – |.

Winchester Sun Reports On Legal Drama

Posted in In The News, Lawsuit, Point of View, Winchester Sun with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 8, 2013 by Joan Graves

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Winchester Sun Reports On Legal Drama

Click the link below the “rethinking education” banner to be connected directly to the Winchester Sun’s report. 

Stand Up Clark County continues to be the central focus in education. Although, we would like to say the central focus is purchasing backpacks for students, improving test scores and retaining our teachers, we accept the attention to our cause and the students of this great county. As the Sun’s report made crystal clear, Stand Up Clark County has done nothing but speak the truth. Which is exactly what we will continue to do.

Stand Up Clark County for truth.

Take 2 of The Backpack Attack

Posted in Board Meetings, Board of Education (General), Point of View with tags , , , , , , , on January 7, 2013 by Joan Graves

mesh laundry bag

It has become impossible for me to ignore this entire backpack issue but the sheer number of people requesting a response is too much to ignore. I am simply sick with what happened today to some students. The point of having a dress code in school was to level the economic playing field. When my son, Colton, was in middle school his therapist didn’t want to pull him out of class for therapy exercises. The rationale was to not single-out a student as being different. Even though Steve and I both said that therapy was more important than peer perception, it wasn’t done.  So, imagine how surprised I was to learn today that administrators at GRC purposely  singled-out students in front of their peers for lacking the ability to purchase a mesh backpack.

Just like you, my mind is incapable of comprehending why anyone would find it necessary to go to such links to shame and embarrass students. Any attempt at school safety was completely undone the second the decision was made to haul kids into the library for a grotesque display of “the haves and the have nots”.

Before I go further, let me make clear a few things. First, I am speaking opinions that I share with others, some involved in Stand Up Clark County and some not. This is our exercise of our constitutional right to free speech. Secondly, anyone attempting to make this blog about them should save themselves the time and effort. These are statements about a public school system not an individual. If you are an individual, in charge in some capacity within the school system , and you take offense to these remarks, it is only the guilt of your own conscience. Third, I am in no way attempting to create public outrage. I am, in fact, attempting to contain it by encouraging others to peaceful, meaningful and acceptable ways of challenging public regime by elected officials.

Today, a report was released stating that Kentucky scored the absolute lowest in the area of communication between school district policy makers and the community. That has been the central focus of Stand Up Clark County from the onset. There is no way this school district will ever be successful as long as there is no open, on-going dialogue between school officials and the community. At this point there is nothing more the community can do. We have spoken. We’ve made our point and cast our ballots. We must now rely upon our governing educational system to, at the very least, attempt to find a middle ground.

As parents, it is imperative for us to keep a cool, rational mind. We are an example to our kids. There is no harder job than for a parent to remain calm, cool and collected when we perceive our kids have been done wrong. But it is only with a clear mind that we will achieve success for them.

Today, some students at GRC, got an embarrassing lesson in the ramifications of poor leadership.  To those students I would like to say, you have done nothing wrong. You are not less than anyone. You are valuable, intelligent and worthy. You have a tremendous future in front of you. In the words of Elenore Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Do not consent. Do not be angry. See this moment as an opportunity for personal growth. It takes a tremendous amount of character to avoid responding when you feel slighted, yet to do so offers unspeakable rewards.

To the students that had mesh backpacks and were not singled-out, I ask you to go out of your way to help your peers. Show your own integrity by refusing to participate in singling-out students already scorned. The difference in what you carry on your back means nothing if it doesn’t make a difference in how you behave.

School employees, I am well aware that many of you were surprised, disappointed and embarrassed by today’s events.  My advice to you is to always act appropriately but to also stand up for your students. If you are unable or unwilling to go to your supervisors at the very least go to the kids. Make sure your students are not carrying emotional burdens in-place of mesh backpacks.

As parents, it is our  responsibility to make sure our kids always respect employees of the educational system, yet they need to know they have support. Talk to your student about today’s events and determine the level of importance your student assigned to it. Gage their thoughts and emotions without inserting your own. Afterwards, if you feel it necessary I suggest you address the board at the next meeting, which I believe is January 15th.

All of that being said I must again clarify the legality of these statements. I, Joan Graves, am writing these words based upon the overwhelming response to this backpack issue. I am not in any way telling anyone how to behave. I am only pointing out a legal, peaceful, and logical way to express an opinion on the matter at hand. I am in no way encouraging community outrage, contempt, hatred or conspiracy. These remarks are not intend to annoy, slander, annoy, ridicule or defame anyone within the school system. And absolutely, under no circumstance would I be intending to alarm an individual, disturb his/her fragile emotional state or in any other way cause harm or injury to another’s reputation.

So……Stand Up Clark County but only if you want to. 

First Court Appearance

Posted in In The News, Lawsuit, Point of View with tags , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2013 by Joan Graves
Clark County Courthouse

Clark County Courthouse (Photo credit: J. Stephen Conn)




Today was the first court appearance in the lawsuit filed against me by superintendent Elaine Farris. It was a minor motion that required a judge’s ruling as attorneys squabbled over legal details. It took longer waiting for our turn than it did to actually complete the process.


My attendance was not required today, as my attorney could have easily represented me. But it was me that made the commitment to you, not my attorney. Therefore, I believe it is my responsibility to be in that courtroom every time, for every motion or procedure. Whether it’s 15 minutes or 6 hours out of my day doesn’t matter. Not a second of time I sit in that courtroom is wasted, because it is time that I am representing you and our fundamental values.


I was well aware of the difficulties, hardships and successes that came with the leadership role of Stand Up Clark County. When I accepted that position I accepted all the terms that accompany it, forgoing the opportunity to pick and choose when it was convenient for me to represent you. I cannot give you details of the actual case but I can give you my time, effort, energy and commitment. And I do not take my commitments lightly.


Without a doubt, I know that Clark County Public Schools have brighter days on the horizon. It is that unshakable faith, our commitment to education and your support and encouragement that will catapult our community into a better tomorrow.


Stand Up Clark County, we are fully committed.


Prominent Defamation Attorney Takes Case, Joins Our Fight

Posted in Lawsuit with tags , , , , , , , , on November 29, 2012 by Joan Graves

Prominent Defamation Attorney Takes Case, Joins Our Fight

It is with great joy and humility I announce that Attorney Thomas W. Miller, with the highly esteemed firm of Miller, Griffin & Marks, P.S.C., will be representing me in the lawsuit filed by Clark County School Superintendent Elaine Farris. Mr. Miller is highly regarded by his peers and clients as an expert in the areas of defamation of character, libel and slander. He is a third generation attorney who has counseled both plaintiff and defendant in these areas.

Although, I am personally named in the lawsuit it is my belief that it is actually a case filed against our right as parents, community members and employees to openly communicate our needs and successes for our children’s education. If you would like to donate to this defense please refer to the instructions for doing so in Mr. Miller’s letter. Donations to this case are not an investment in me but rather in promoting educational accountability for us all. Stand Up Clark County has never been about a single individual but rather putting the public back in public education.

As a board member of the prestigious Lexington School, Mr. Miller is well versed in the attributes of successful education and leadership. I cannot imagine that any other individual, aside from Mr. Miller, could ever have a better understanding of our situation and goals. I could find no one else with Mr. Miller’s expertise. The parents, students, school employees and citizens of Clark County have endured far too much already and deserve nothing but the absolute best. I have no doubt that Tom Miller will bring you that.