Louisiana Judge Issues Ludicrously Lawless Takedown Order To Newspaper

Attorney David Groner of New Iberia, Louisiana is angry. Those bastards at the Louisiana State Bar took a run at him, but he mostly beat the rap. He only took a six-month suspension, and that suspension is suspended if he successfully completes a year of probation.

But then some jackass on the web forum of The Daily Iberian mouthed off about him, and linked the public document announcing his suspension, just like they had a First Amendment right to do that or something. What's a lawyer to do?

Thank God for compliant judges with quick rubberstamps. David Groner sued, and District Judge Curtis Sigur immediately granted him a temporary restraining order directing the New Iberian to delete the comment, remove the link to the public document, and who knows what else:

In the lawsuit, Groner asked a judge to prohibit The Daily Iberian from publishing on its website any article or story in which Groner is accused of "dishonesty, fraud or deceit in connection with a Louisiana Supreme Court decision or similar matter."

The lawsuit was filed Aug. 25. District Judge Curtis Sigur signed a temporary restraining order the same day the lawsuit was filed in support of Groner's request.

The Daily Iberian has obeyed rather than risk contempt, but is appealing.

Maybe the anonymous comment falsely described the bar proceedings against David Groner. But forcing the paper to take the comment down — not to mention the link to a public document — is nothing short of lawless. First, the paper isn't responsible for the comment as a matter of law under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Second, the judge's order is classic — and classically unconstitutional — prior restraint. If you are defamed, your remedy is to seek damages. Maybe, once a jury has ruled, you can get an order prohibiting the defendant from repeating the thing the jury found to be defamatory. But a pre-trial order directing a newspaper to take something down, including a public document? Obvious prior restraint of the sort that thinking judges reject immediately.

Our rights depend on the judges who are supposed to enforce them. District Judge Curtis Sigur is violating his oath to uphold the constitution. Shame on him.

As for David Groner — well. He's the guy who asked for the prior restraint, including the deletion of a link to a public document about him. How trustworthy is that?

Edited to Add: David Groner had a Facebook post about the paper.

After over 30 years as a subscriber, today I have cancelled my subscription to the Daily Iberian.
For years now, the paper has become a poor choice for area news and certainly is a day or two late on state or national news.

The main reason however is that the paper runs a website that allows anti-Semitic; racist and homophobic rants under the guise of anonymous postings. In addition and in particular, any person in the public view is defamed, attacked and vilified and even when the administrator ( the newspaper) knows of the false defamatory posting, they refuse to remove or censure. Of course there is no way of knowing if the staff at the Daily Iberian is responsible for the postings themselves. They have become smug and arrogant in their claim for " freedom of speech".

I can no longer condone a website that tears at the fabric of our community and therefore have chosen to refuse to buy the newspaper. I have many friends who have previously cancelled their subscription, I now regret it has taken me this long to join them.

Two thoughts: (1) nice scare quotes on "freedom of speech," and (2) don't you think the significant point isn't that you cancelled your subscription but that you sued them and got a lawless court order imposing prior restraint on them?

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. The Sanity Inspector says

    Did you mean compliant judge rather than complaint judge? Feel free to delete my comment either way.

  2. Adam Steinbaugh says

    Very much looking forward to the temporary restraining order requiring removal of all documents entitled "trytakingitdownnowmotherfucker.pdf"

  3. says

    >And Groner's facebook is… Interesting…

    He must be a programmer. Programmers tend to put periods and commas outside the quotation marks.

  4. PonyAdvocate says

    The Daily Iberian has obeyed rather than risk contempt, but is appealing.

    Friends who have been in the military tell me that not only are you not required to obey a clearly illegal order, but in fact, you are required not to obey an illegal order — the Nuremberg defense and all that. What's the deal with a clearly illegal order from a judge? If you're a qualified voter, and a judge ordered you not to vote in an election, and you voted anyway, could he hold you in contempt? Could a judge hold you in contempt if you went to confession on Saturday and received Holy Communion on Sunday after he ordered you not to? Could he hold you in contempt for reading a copy of the Constitution after he ordered you not to? If a judge ordered you to burn down a warehouse he owns, and you didn't, could he hold you in contempt?

  5. Scott Jacobs says

    Better to do as the judge says, get a court ruling that says the judge is full of shit, and then write a long, detailed story about the asshat lawyer and the asshat judge.

  6. Scott Jacobs says

    So what are the terms and conditions of his supervised probation? Please tell me one of the terms is that he refrain from filing any meritless petitions with the court…

  7. En Passant says

    Ken wrote:

    Obvious prior restraint of the sort that thinking judges reject immediately.

    Heh. I'm sure the Louisiana Press Association will help him think more thoroughly on the matter. From the article on the appeal that you linked:

    Scott L. Sternberg, a Baton Rouge attorney who represents members of the Louisiana Press Association, is representing The Daily Iberian.


    I never heard of Louisiana attorney David Groner or that he was suspended for dishonesty and placed on probation. I read the order suspending Louisiana attorney David Groner for dishonesty and don't understand why Louisiana attorney David Groner, suspended for dishonesty, is suing a newspaper for writing about the fact that he (Louisiana attorney David Groner) was suspended for dishonesty.

  9. Chaon says

    I thought this was hilarious until I read the part where the Daily Iberian website is tearing at the fabric of the community. That is obviously a Terrible Thing, and I commend Mr. Groner for his attempt to keep that fabric unrent.

  10. Sinij says

    I am here to report Ken for wrongthink, but since I don't enjoy crowds I decided to avoid the mob and do it on non-controversial topic…

    1 star, should not be allowed to speak again

  11. Encinal says


    If you're given an order that violates someone else's rights, you have an obligation to disobey it, but if you're given an order that violates your own rights, you're not obligated to disobey it.


    Also the British. And anyone who puts basic common sense above following the herd.

  12. nhrpolitic13 says

    What a pair of scrofulous taints. (snorts). I'm giving your Facebook post 24 hours, Ken — it doesn't exactly look like they pay much attention to that page. Someone could be in for quite a surprise the next time they look at it!

  13. NickM says

    Forget woodchippers. Louisiana has gators.

    Oh, and for anyone who hadn't looked at Ken's links, the link with anti-American Judge Curtis Sigur's name goes to a page with his picture.

  14. ZarroTsu says

    Someone indulge me, is there a more correct term than "special snowflake disease" I could use to refer antsy people who throw legal tantrums when… uhm… big meanies hurt their feelings?

  15. Amir Kessabaum says

    It sounds like Groner called in a favor with the judge. I remember watching the John Oliver special on elected judges, which revealed that local lawyers are expected to contribute money to the judges election or face their wrath. Maybe Groner paid good money to be Judge Sigur's special friend. It's funny how every time I hear a story of a really unethical/unconstitutional judge, it's an elected one.

    Anyway, I suggest everyone download the document. In the unlikely scenario that Ken is forced to take it down, I volunteer to host it on my webserver.

  16. Bloviator says

    If the OED can add "hangry", and "manspreading" to the lexicon, then they can certainly add "Freedom of Speech" since it has become prevalent in the culture recently.

    "Freedom of Speech" (quotes included); noun
    1. A code word used by critics to flag a statement for censorship.

  17. Penfold says

    Well, discovery should be interesting. But Groner's deposition will be hilarious, I hope it is video taped.

    It would be interesting to see how much money, if any, Groner donated to Judge Sigur's election campaign.

  18. Scooby says

    I like how the articles about the restraining order state give the jist of what the offending comment said, including quotes about "Groner [having] a 'reputation for engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation.'" It's a nice touch that the tv station and the paper talk about his state bar disciplinary record.

  19. Kevin says

    I believe this is the offending comment:

    I read the paper where David Groner is representing Deputy Sanders Butler in the sexual harassment. The only thing you need to know is that Butler helped Groner in his failed bid for State Senator against Fred Mills and Simone Champagne. That's when the truth came out about Groner having a reputation for engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation.

    Please don't read the comment above, Judge Sigur has ordered it wiped from the internet!

  20. Kevin says

    I think we all owe David Groner and Judge Sigur a huge apology. I've read the offending comment and the disciplinary council order more carefully. I can now see that the comment was in fact malicious libel of the worst sort. This anonymous poster should be found and thrown in a wood chipper post haste.

    You see while Groner was investigated for:

    conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation

    this abhorrent individual has accused him of:

    conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation.

    Clearly David Groner was wronged and Judge Sigur was correct in ignoring decades of first amendment jurisprudence.

  21. Dave says

    You'll have to forgive Judge Sigur. As a former assistant district attorney, he naturally assumed judges are there to rubber stamp anything that crosses their desk.

  22. ken says

    Speaking of the judge

    If judges make decisions based on laws, how do different judges make different decisions?
    Decisions by judges are largely based on their interpretation of the constitution and laws. This interpretation is based on the life experiences of an individual, their political, economic, social and religious belief. It also depends on their interpretation of the facts of each case.

  23. Sad Panda says

    Nah, if you want to really start something, do a Yelp review of the judge. "No constitutional right is sacred if it causes emotional discomfort for the good judge's financial backers! A++++, would fund again!"

  24. Bob says

    I just like how he made his complaint that the newspaper "runs a website that allows anti-Semitic; racist and homophobic rants" ON FACEBOOK.

  25. Mikee says

    What are the chances that now well-known dishonest lawyer David Groner is just now learning about the Streisand Effect?

    RE: Amir Kessabaum

    I gotta say, after the licking you took the other day, it shows integrity and good quality values for you to show up here again and make such a reasonable comment with a kind offer.

    RE: Ken

    I know you've been threatened with lawsuits a couple times, but has anyone had the audacity to actually sue you for something said on Popehat?

  26. Trebuchet says

    Link Back's links don't link. Care to share what it was?

    Off-topic: For the first time in months, clicking my bookmark for Popehat has actually taken me to the current page. Hip, Hip, Hooray!

  27. Jim says

    Link Back's link was to Ken's post on Groehner Law's Facebook page. It has now been removed, no doubt courtesy of Mr. Groehner.

  28. Mikee says

    Finally the weird caching issue I have with Popehat on Chrome has been put to good use. Even though the lawyer is learning about the Streisand Effect now and memory holed his comment, my cache still had it saved when I clicked the link. I saved a screenshot of it should anyone doubt the quote included in Ken's article.

  29. Jimmy says

    Ken, I tried to send you a pdf of more issues in Iberia parish but the server at popehat says undeliverable. Any suggestions? I inserted your name as author but no luck.

  30. Salem says

    Note that Groner has now lifted the TRO. Volokh now has a post about this, including this from Groner:

    The case will be dismissed Monday am. So by the time you write about it the case will be over and the TRO lifted, by my own choice.
    It has been blown way out of proportion, which I admit is my own fault. I have never been found guilty of fraud, dishonesty, or deceit so I asked them not to publish anonymous posting to that effect. The end result is classic Streisand effect, I made it worse by trying to correct it.

  31. andrews says

    Maybe, once a jury has ruled, you can get an order prohibiting the defendant from repeating the thing the jury found to be defamatory.

    Maybe you can get such an order. It would still be classic unconstititional prior restraint. At least so says the classic case we saw in grad school: Willing v. Mazzocone, 393 A.2d 1155 (Penn. 1978). And there, the remedy of money damages was concededly worthless because the defendant had no money.

  32. andrews says

    Programmers tend to put periods and commas outside the quotation marks.

    There is a reason for that. Normally when programmers are writing with quotes, the quotes delimit a string which is to be inserted into the code exactly as shown:
    char tf_fmt[] = "this expression governs formatting a number: %03d\n";
    In such a case, the punctuation outside of the quotes is meaningful to the compiler, but it is _not_ intended to be included in the code. On the other hand, the stuff inside the quotes goes directly into the code, and at run-time that exact string is probably interpreted to generate output.

    Precision of this nature matters to programmers because it affects the outcome. It might matter to lawyers, too. Compare
    He said, "Yes, I ran over the old lady."
    He said, "Yes, I ran over the old lady".
    The first case, full stop, he may have done a bad thing. The second case, no full stop in the quoted speech, perhaps because it was followed by ", in my mind's eye, as I was jamming on the brakes and barely avoiding an accident."