Frustrated by the way people can manipulate legal systems and demonize innocent victims, young lawyer Elizabeth Samson hopes to make free speech more of a reality in the world and crush a practice that she calls "libel tourism." Samson equates libel tourism to international forum shopping, where plaintiffs look for a court in the country that will likely provide the most favorable outcomes for their cases. Often, such cases involve terror financing.
Last December, The Jewish Week published an Opinion piece titled "Last Stop On The Libel Tour," in which I discussed a lawsuit that few people had heard of and almost nobody seemed to care too much about. The suit between Rachel Ehrenfeld and Sheikh Khalid Salim bin Mahfouz had proceeded virtually off the media radar. I only learned of it when researching defamation lawsuits initiated by individuals accused of involvement in terror financing.
Several weeks ago the New York State Court of Appeals began hearing arguments in a case with monumental and far-reaching implications for the protection of United States citizens abroad and the rights afforded by the First Amendment. The stakes are high in the case of Ehrenfeld v. Mahfouz, and the very future of free expression and public participation for all U.S. journalists, authors and their publishers hangs in the balance. The decision of the Court of Appeals will affect whether foreign defamation judgments rendered against U.S.
Thanks in large part to attention from Elizabeth Samson, 29, a local attorney and Legacy Heritage Fellow, Gov. David A. Paterson signed the Libel Terrorism Protection Act this past week, the first bill of its kind in the United States.