Huntington Officer Wins $5,000 Judgment
A police captain won a $5,000 defamation judgment Monday against a city gadfly who last year accused him of breaking nearly a dozen laws while acting as the department’s public information officer.
The judgment in Orange County Superior Court ends more than a year of bitter conflict between city activist John Boag and Capt. Charles Poe.
Boag filed a complaint with the Police Department against Poe in May, 1994, accusing him of lying, destroying evidence, making false statements, and a host of other infractions after Poe denied Boag access to some confidential department information he had requested.
Boag forwarded his complaint to the City Council, the FBI and the news media; Poe countered with a defamation lawsuit--which he financed himself.
Attorney Neal Moore, representing Poe, argued in court that his client had been defamed by malicious statements that displayed a reckless disregard for the truth. He prevailed in court Monday when Boag failed to pay a filing fee and defaulted.
“It’s a case of right and wrong,” Poe said. “People should have a right to file complaints, but I think people should be judicious about what they do and have some factual basis for their complaint. You don’t have the right to file maliciously false charges against someone just because you don’t like them.”
Boag, a former Marine Corps officer and vocal opponent of the city and organized religion, said he felt his comments about Poe were protected under the First Amendment and that he was overrun by a legal system that discriminates against people who defend themselves.
“At what point are we allowed to criticize public officials?” Boag said. “I got railroaded. . . . He shut me up. You win and you lose. I lost.”