The comedy duo of Stephen “Bowtie” Stubbs and “Chief” Thomas Finn put on a show in a Vegas courtroom yesterday. Finn, playing the red faced buffoon still has his day job as the Boulder City, Nevada Chief of Police but maybe not for long. Technically Stubbs, the straight man, is a bikers’ rights lawyer. Why these guys don’t have their own reality show on Discovery is anybody’s guess.
In previous episodes of When Stubbs Met Finn, Stubbs filed a multi-million dollar civil rights lawsuit against multiple Nevada police departments on behalf of the Southern Nevada Confederation of Clubs. The suit complains that the bikers “were willfully, maliciously, and intentionally prevented from associating and/or assembling without justification or compelling state interest as a result of their status as a motorcycle club or motorcycle club member.”
Finn then tested the outer limits of the concept “zero tolerance” when the Mongols Motorcycle Club chose Boulder City to host their national run. Local cops used their police powers to harass the visitors and then Finn destroyed some of the evidence. So Stubbs complained that Finn’s actions epitomized what the civil rights suit was all about and he tried to have Finn charged with destroying evidence.
Then, Finn sued Stubbs for defamation complaining that Stubbs had “destroyed” his career. Stubbs noticed that Finn’s defamation suit referenced that the Chief had eavesdropped on a Stubbs phone call, which is also, technically, a crime and accused Finn of filing his lawsuit as a way to bully Stubbs into silence.
Stubbs filed a motion to dismiss Finn’s defamation suit under Nevada’s anti-Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, or anti-SLAPP, statute. SLAPPs are lawsuits that are filed to intimidate or censor critics of public officials by forcing those critics to defend themselves against the lawsuit until they abandon their criticism.
Yesterday District Court Judge Jessie Walsh heard arguments from both sides.
Finn’s attorney, Sean Flanagan argued that the anti-SLAPP law did not apply because Stubbs had notified the press of his allegations.
Stubb’s lawyer, Nathan Morris, rhetorically asked, “Do we live in a country where we cannot hold our government officials accountable for their crimes and let the media know what we are doing? Mr. Stubbs did just that. He made a complaint to the District Attorney and forwarded a copy of the official complaint to the media.”
Judge Walsh ruled that “This is exactly the kind of case the legislature envisioned when they passed the Anti-SLAPP laws” and granted Stubb’s motion to dismiss the defamation suit “in its entirety.”
Finn is now liable for Stubb’s legal bill which currently amounts to about $30,000. He also faces the consequences of a second anti-SLAPP motion.
When the Chief sued Stubbs for defamation he also sued three other people – retired Police Sergeant Dan Jennings, Police Sergeant John Chase and City Attorney Dave Olsen – of trying to destroy him. When he lost yesterday Finn moved to dismiss his suits against all three of those men but Jennings had already filed his own Anti-SLAPP motion the day before. When he tried to dismiss Jenning’s motion he technically lost that case, too. So Finn also now owes Jennings a yet to be determined amount of damages.
There will be another hearing to determine how much Finn owes Stubbs and Jennings in about a month.
The Boulder City Council asked the Nevada Division of Investigation to investigate Finn’s conduct in November.
And bikers all over Southern Nevada are now enjoying the bliss of schadenfreude. Schadenfreude is a German word that means “joy in the misfortune of others.” Finn asked for it. The only real question is when he will stop asking for it. He could still be charged with two felonies as a result of his conduct.