Council candidate sues Austin Bulldog claiming defamation

By Ken Martin
The Austin Bulldog
Originally published Oct. 15, 2014

District 6 candidate Donald Shelly “Don” Zimmerman has filed a defamation lawsuit against The Austin Bulldog, according to Courthouse News Service.

The Austin Bulldog has not been served and has not seen a copy of the lawsuit, styled Don Zimmerman v. Austin Investigative Reporting Project dba The Austin Bulldog; Ken Martin Cause No. D-1-GN-14-004290. The Austin Investigative Reporting Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit for investigative reporting in the public interest.

“Don Zimmerman’s attack on The Austin Bulldog for publishing truthful information from recent court records is an attack on journalism and the public’s right to know what happens in our courts,” said attorney Bill Aleshire of Riggs Aleshire & Ray PC. “The Austin Bulldog will vigorously defend its reporting and defend the right of journalists to report about court proceedings.”

Zimmerman is represented by Round Rock-based at attorney Stephen Casey of the Casey Law Office PC.

The allegedly defamatory article was published by The Austin Bulldog October 9. On the afternoon of October 10. Casey, representing Zimmerman, e-mailed a Retraction Demand letter alleging false statements in the original article and in the e-mailed News Alert that distributed by The Austin Bulldog to notify readers of the article’s publication.

“You have twenty-four (24) hours to retract your defamation,” Casey’s letter stated. … “If it is not done within twenty-four (24) hours, my office will advise my client to take further legal action. Failure to retract will entitle my client to punitive damages.”

Attorney Aleshire responded with a letter to Casey October 13, stating, “The story is a fair, true, and impartial account of the recent court proceedings and public court records involving Don Zimmerman, and as such is, by law, privileged and not a ground for a libel action.”

Aleshire’s letter also noted that Casey is not only Zimmerman’s attorney but also serves as the candidate’s campaign treasurer.

Zimmerman appointed attorney Casey as his campaign treasurer July 21. Casey is also named as treasurer in Zimmerman’s Campaign Finance Report filed October 6.