A letter to a whole bunch of really good friends.
The nightmare is over. My lawyer says I can talk about it now.
Some of you know about it already. Most don’t. Here’s the short version.
About a year and a half ago, there was a knock on my front door. A kind of unruly looking fellow, probably about 30 years old, dressed in faded jeans and a plaid flannel shirt, was waiting at the door. He handed me a piece of paper and said “Sarah asked me to deliver this.”
I asked “Sarah who?’
He replied with a last name I didn’t recognize, turned on his heel and departed.
I closed the door and looked down at the paper. Turns out he was a process server and had served me with what appeared to be a document telling me I was being sued for defamation of character for something I had written on my blog. Being sued by a former Billings County commissioner. He claimed I had said something about him that wasn’t true. Well, I don’t generally do that.
I had been writing about the scheme by Billings County to build a bridge over the Little Missouri State Scenic River. Right here on this blog, I had been writing it. But I was pretty sure I hadn’t defamed anyone’s character while I was doing that, especially that of a former Billings County commissioner, who probably thought maybe he was now a “former” because of what I had written. He had lost an election the year before.
That was the beginning of the nightmare.
So I hired a lawyer, Chris Edison, to defend me. Chris did good. There was a hearing. The case was dismissed. There was an appeal to the North Dakota Supreme Court. A hearing was held earlier this month and the court dismissed it, too. It’s over.
But lawyers cost money. My lawyer is a friend and was happy to help. He discounted the bill substantially. But still …
My friend, Clay, saw that I was fretting a bit over paying the bill, and he put an impassioned plea for some help on the GoFundMe website. It worked. The bills got paid. I am deeply grateful to Clay, my friend of more than 50 years.
But I am even more grateful for a whole bunch of people who donated more than $15,000 in just a week’s time to get the bill paid. I have many good friends. I’m still in awe of my good fortune.
Unfortunately, we took the GoFundMe page down from the website after we had enough money, without making a list of the friends who donated. I’m guessing most of the people who contributed to my legal fund read this column or are my friends on Facebook.
So, while I hate to be so impersonal, this is the only way I can think of to reach most of you who helped me, and say “Thank you.” From the bottom of my heart.
P.S. The Billings County Commission meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday. Here’s a look at the agenda. The commission is not wasting any time moving forward with the bridge scheme. Look at the 9:05 a.m. agenda item. I’m going to be there.