Courtney Love is in court defending herself against a libel lawsuit for a 2010 tweet about her then-lawyer, Rhonda Holmes. Holmes was Love’s lawyer at the time hired “to pursue a fraud case against the executors of her late husband Kurt Cobain’s estate,” CTV News explained.
The case is important because it’s the first U.S. trial for Twitter libel (“Twibel”).
Love’s 2010 tweet said, according to CTV News:
“@noozjunkie I was f***ing devastated when Rhonda J Holmes Esq of san diego was bought off @fairnewsspears perhaps you can quote.”
Love has defended her tweet accusing Holmes of being “bought off” as opinion and claimed that she didn’t mean to send the tweet publicly but rather as a direct message, according to Spin. She deleted the tweet. Judge Michael Johnson, who “sent the case to trial,” rejected that opinion defense, according to Billboard.
“Holmes is a limited-purpose public figure, so she’ll have to demonstrate that Love acted with malice,” Billboard explained.
Holmes’ attorney Barry Langberg commented during opening statements:
“Once this kind of charge is made on the Internet, you never know who read it. You never know where it went. Just because you don’t have a list of everyone who saw it doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. You never know where it’s sitting as a ticking time bomb waiting to come out.”
He added that Love “had no basis and there is no evidence to conclude Rhonda Holmes was bought off, and yet [Love] acted recklessly and willfully to destroy the reputation of Holmes.”
This isn’t the first time Love has been sued over her tweets. Back in 2011, Love paid fashion designer Dawn Simorangkir $430,000 over her tweet and MySpace comment the designer was “a thief and a criminal” as we wrote at the time.
In 2012, however, the UK High Court ruled that Indian Premier League founder Lalit Modi libeled retired New Zealand cricket player Chris Cairns with his 2010 tweet. The tweet claimed that Cairns had a “past record in match-fixing in the Indian Cricket League.” Modi had to pay £90,000 in damages and £400,000 in costs, as iMediaEthics wrote at the time.