In this forthcoming series of interview vignettes Attorneys Louis Leo IV and Matthew Benzion, alongside James Tracy and others, discuss Tracy’s 2016 case against Florida Atlantic University, the 10-day trial and misleading “fake news” media circus that surrounded the event, and the unfolding implications for free speech in higher education and broader social discourse.
Author and broadcaster Donald Jeffries talks with attorney Louis Leo IV and Professor James Tracy about the TracyvFAU federal lawsuit, presently on appeal. Tracy was fired by Florida Atlantic University in 2016 for his controversial public views and writings on topics including the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing events.
Editor’s Note: Andrew Carrington Hitchcock discusses Professor James Tracy’s 2015 termination from Florida Atlantic University and the TracyvFAU lawsuit with Tracy and trial lawyer Louis Leo IV in two separate interviews, available via the links below.
Carrington Hitchcock is a UK-based historian and host of The Andrew Carrington Hitchcock Show. Leo is the lead attorney in the 2016 civil rights lawsuit against the university presently before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
(January 12, 2019)
In today’s show originally broadcast on January 12 2019, EuroFolkRadio’s Andrew Carrington Hitchcock interviews Dr. James F. Tracy, for a show entitled, “What Happened To James Tracy Could Happen To You…”
Facebook Threatens MemoryHoleBlog Page with Shutdown
Threats of Physical Harm
In the latest episode of the Sandy Hook shooting event saga South Florida-based trial attorney Louis Leo IV is requesting that a Sandy Hook parent to file suit against him for defamation.
The challenge came as Leo found out that the party known as “Lenny Pozner” and his non-profit “HONR Network” organization alleged that Leo is “posting malicious and defamatory public statements on social media against victims of mass casualty events.”
In response Leo invited Pozner and any other Sandy Hook parent to file suit against him for defamation. “Lenny, if what you allege is true,” Leo wrote,
I respectfully challenge any such purported “victim” (including but not limited to you) to sue me for defamation. I’ll waive service of process. Just let me know when you can be available for deposition. I have many questions I’d love to ask you under oath.
Facebook has in turn given Leo “social media timeout”–a 30-day ban from posting on his own Fb page for violating Fb’s “community standards.” Perhaps uncoincidentally, Facebook moved against James Tracy with a similar penalty (below). (As of 11:00PM November 22 Leo has since had his privileges restored. MHB page, however, remains in lockdown.)
Leo is the lead attorney in the civil rights case James Tracy brought against Florida Atlantic University for his 2016 termination. The case is presently before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
Attorney Louis Leo IV discusses James Tracy’s pending civil rights lawsuit against Florida Atlantic University with University of Minnesota Professor James Fetzer on GCN’s The Power Hour, Monday, April 23, 2018. Leo is the lead attorney representing Tracy in the federal civil rights lawsuit against the South Florida-based public university.
The two examine Tracy’s unlawful firing by Florida Atlantic University, the corrupt and fraudulent trial defense conducted by FAU’s corporate attorneys (who received significant aid from the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida), and the implications for public employees’ right of free speech and association in the wake of the decision. Leo and Fetzer also discuss the circumstances that led to Tracy’s termination by FAU officials, which followed a smear campaign by cyber trolls and major news media seeking to defend the Sandy Hook event’s official narrative.
One day after the interview was recorded, on April 24, US District Judge Robin L. Rosenberg issued a 31-page final order denying all post-trial motions, defending her October 31, 2017 summary judgement rulings in favor of FAU, and asserting that Plaintiff Tracy was provided with a fair trial in her courtroom. With the decisions the case now proceeds to the US 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
James H. Fetzer: My guest for the second hour has distinguished himself by representing James Tracy, who is an Associate Professor of Communications and the Media at Florida Atlantic, who is seeking to protect the American people from an elaborate scam by investigating the aspects of Sandy Hook, in particular, Lenny Pozner’s claim to have a son, Noah, who died there.
James was a skeptic at the time, but he was exercising his diligence and responsibility on behalf of the public to ensure they weren’t take in by a scam which wound up looting the American people of somewhere between $27 and $130 million in donations in the false belief that there’d actually been a shooting massacre, and that these 20 children and six adults had died. Divided by the 26 families that were impersonating the survivors, they split and derived over a million bucks apiece.
I believe this is one of the reasons Lenny Pozner has been so ruthless in going after those of us that have been seeking to expose the truth. James Tracy turned out to be targeted, where Lenny published several articles in the South Florida newspapers, including the Jewish journal, Forward, the Sun-Sentinel and others. Tracy ended up losing his position over this. The university had a flimsy excuse, but none better to address the issues here than Louis Leo IV, who represented him. Louis has a website, peopleoverpolitics.org, and he has authored a brilliant overview of Tracy versus Florida Atlantic, titled, “Legalizing Pretext: How an American Public University Conspired to Beat the First Amendment.” Louis welcome to The Power Hour.
Louis Leo IV: Thanks for having me.
Fetzer: I’m just delighted. Perhaps you’d like to begin with a thumbnail overview of what happened here, and how this American university beat the First Amendment.
Leo: Well, I can tell you there are a lot of moving parts in this case, but we’re still waiting for the court to rule on post-trial motions, which include a Motion for Judgement as a Matter of Law, as well as a Motion for a New Trial. And, we’re still trying to figure out exactly what happened. I guess you can say it’s been a long and disturbing ride through the legal system in this case.
Fetzer: I was just going to add that I too am a colleague, a collaborator, with James Tracy, and I was the head of his legal defense fund, and I believe in this man one-hundred-percent. In fact, I can’t imagine a less likely target for an action like this than James Tracy. He is so principled. He is so measured. He is so thoughtful. He is so intelligent. And he was actually undertaking at act of what’s technically known as super arrogation—going beyond the call of duty in an effort to determine the facts of the matter, and protect the American public from fraud.
Fetzer: They wound up being subjected to a theft by deception, by misrepresenting what had happened there. Lenny Pozner, Neil Heslin and others have defrauded the American people of a vast sum, and have gone on this stupefying campaign for gun control that’s completely one-hundred-percent the opposite of the interests of the American people. Louis, go right ahead.
Leo: I should start by saying that the reason Dr. Tracy lost in this trial is because of deception and fraud in the court, and it’s something that the court sanctioned, using the rules of evidence. This is outlined in our motion that the court made the grave error in excluding from trial evidence that showed just how blatant and pretextual the use of this policy was to terminate a tenured professorship.
What Would Fair and Balanced Journalism Have Looked Like?
By James F. Tracy
The Palm Beach Post and South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s overall coverage of the December 2017 TracyvFAU trial looks as if it could have been written by the Defendant University’s “Department of Media Relations.” Post and Sun-Sentinel managements recognize how FAU’s multitude of advertising dollars is a key support in their erroneous and uncritical reportage of complex public events and broader operations. With the trial each outlet skewed its reportage and editorial commentary to heavily favor the school, thereby securing for their client a positive verdict in South Florida’s court of public opinion.
One need look no further than the Post and Sun-Sentinel‘s article titles to gather an overview of the TracyvFAU’s editorial thrust:
In fact, the papers pulled their reporters from the courtroom entirely when crucial testimony was given by Professor Tracy’s colleagues and fellow union officers giving the lie to the central argument of FAU’s million-dollar defense—that Tracy consciously violated a school policy rigorously adhered to by all other faculty and employees.
In 2016, former Florida Atlantic University (“FAU”) Professor James Tracy filed a civil rights lawsuit against FAU following the termination of his tenured employment. If one relies on mainstream press reports of his firing they may conclude the action was justified because of Tracy’s alleged “harassment” of Sandy Hook parents, and/or his failure to comply with the school’s “outside activities” policy.
Yet at its heart, Tracy’s case has grave implications for the First Amendment rights of virtually every US academic and government employee. Through their own repeated admissions FAU administrators justified Tracy’s termination by arguing that Tracy failed to “disclose” his constitutionally protected political speech for university approval under a vague and confusing school policy.
If this precedent stands unchallenged it will allow virtually any government agency to police employees’ extracurricular speech or political activities, and accordingly discipline workers whose views are deemed objectionable.
Notwithstanding the truth about Sandy Hook, or other government conspiracies, what if I told you that Professor Tracy didn’t do anything wrong?
What if I told you that government officials at FAU broke their own rules, and the First Amendment when they disciplined Professor Tracy?
For those who don’t care about freedom of speech, you need read no further.
For those who understand and appreciate the fact that FAU, a major American public university, isn’t the NFL, and that its government officials aren’t allowed to conspire to beat the First Amendment and fire a government employee because of what they say as a private citizen about a matter of public concern, please keep reading.
Professor James Tracy, who has a Ph.D. in mass communications, was an award-winning, tenured communications professor at a government-run university. He was a good teacher who received outstanding and excellent annual evaluations from his supervisors while teaching at FAU for over a decade.
On December 11, 2017, in a serious miscarriage of justice, a jury in West Palm Beach, Florida, ruled unanimously in favor of Florida Atlantic University and against former Media Studies Professor James Tracy, who was suing for reinstatement after his firing in 2016. The jury found that Tracy’s “controversial” articles on Memory Hole Blog were not a “motivating factor” in his firing, the only question they were required to consider. Of course, Tracy’s posts at “his conspiracy theory blog” were indeed the reason he was fired, but the jury was convinced otherwise by FAU’s legal team with assistance from the judge. The case centered around Tracy’s writings on the anomalies found in the reporting on the Sandy Hook “massacre” of December 14, 2012. His skepticism about the event was not to the liking of the university.
James Tracy with his attorney Louis Leo IV arriving at federal court. Image: Palm Beach Post.
FAU maintained that Tracy was not fired from his tenured position because of his blog posts, but because he did not follow the “rules” set out by “his bosses” at the government-run institution. FAU attorney G. Joseph Curley insisted that Tracy was not denied his First Amendment rights, but that he simply did not follow university procedure. “Professor Tracy doesn’t follow the rules,” Curley told the jury. “They’re rules that everyone else follows. He doesn’t play by the rules.” FAU cast the case as one of a “belligerent,” rebellious,” and “nonconformist” employee being let go for “insubordination,” instead of that of a tenured professor exercising his right to free speech.
FAU attorney G. Joseph Curley: “I could not be happier for FAU.” Image: Palm Beach Post.
FAU’s current “rules” require that faculty submit forms listing “outside activities” to be vetted for administrative approval, whether the activities are compensated or not. Tracy and other professors at FAU had argued that the policy is vague and confusing, constituting a form of prior restraint forbidden by the First Amendment, and leading to a climate of “fear and uncertainty” among the faculty. Aside from the fact that “outside activities” can reach into all aspects of a professor’s life and therefore be difficult if not impossible to list, such activities must not be subject to bureaucratic approval. And certainly, no tenured professor can be fired for not filling out a form, even at Florida Atlantic University.