New York Supreme Court Judge Robert Kalish had some pointed words for Fox News host Judge Jeanine Pirro in court on Tuesday in the context of the defamation lawsuit filed against her and her network by Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson.
It’s still not clear whether Kalish thinks McKesson’s case can move forward, but Kalish did make abundantly clear that he thought Pirro should “know better.”
First, some context. The lawsuit, filed back in Dec. 2017, alleged that Pirro made “false and defamatory statements” by saying McKesson directed people to engage in violent protests that ultimately resulted in a cop being hit in the face by a rock.
McKesson alleged that Pirro’s statements were “false, and were either known to be false by Defendant Pirro or were made with reckless disregard for whether they were true.” What were those statements? Pirro appeared on Fox & Friends on September 29, 2017 and said the following:
“And in this particular case, DeRay Mckesson, the organizer, actually was directing people, was directing the violence… but guess what, the judge said, you know what he was engaging in [is] protected free speech,” she said. “Now I want you to guess who appointed this federal judge.” (It was Barack Obama.)
“You’ve got a police officer who was injured, he was injured at the direction of DeRay Mckesson, DeRay Mckesson walks away with a hundred thousand dollars, for an organization that is amorphous, we got a problem in this country,” Pirro continued.
Pirro was evidently reacting to the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by a Louisiana police officer against Mckesson and the Black Lives Matter movement.
These remarks gave rise to the lawsuit we now discuss.
According to the Hollywood Reporter’s Eriq Gardner, Pirro was criticized by Judge Kalish on Tuesday in no uncertain terms.
“She’s a judge, a former DA,” he said. “You’d think she’d understand what we are dealing with […] You’d think she could be clear and accurate. You’d think she would know better.”
The comments were addressed to Dori Hanswirth, the attorney representing Pirro and Fox News. The Hollywood Reporter noted the interesting timing of this. Just a couple of weeks ago Pirro asked President Donald Trump if “there [should] be consequences to those people who promote falsehoods?”
Judge Kalish and Hanswirth proceeded to have a back-and-forth about whether or not Pirro’s statements were presented as opinion or fact.
Hanswirth claimed that “You can tell by the way she talks: ‘We have a problem in this country'” that “she is making an opinion.”
“She is making it sound like fact. It’s clear she got mixed up,” Kalish answered.
The judge did push back against McKesson’s attorney Matthew Melewski, saying that there was an allegation that Mckesson was responsible for the aforementioned cop’s injury in an amended complaint that was “never officially entered in the proceeding,” and adding that the case’s dismissal did not necessarily mean this didn’t happen.
It remains to be seen where this sparring will lead.
[Image via Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AFP/Getty Images]