Beth Mason criminal charges against MSV thrown out of court as First Amendment rights preserved
Mason allegation MSV articles constituted criminal harassment also thrown out
In a surprising conclusion to the trial started in February, Jersey City Municipal Court Judge Cynthia Jackson dismissed former councilwoman Beth Mason’s criminal harassment claims and issued a continuance of a mutual no contact order between Hoboken’s lightning rod for controversy and this MSV editor.
The turnabout came as witnesses were slated to testify today against Beth Mason, contradicting her sworn February trial testimony.
Mason filed a criminal harassment allegation after handed a subpoena in the Bajardi v Pincus trial. She claimed and testified under oath in February the document was “smacked” into her chest at the September 17th, 2014 Hoboken City Council meeting.
From the witness stand, Mason testified to seeing something “white” from the corner of her eye flying toward her and “hit me in the chest.” She later would describe it as papers “in some other case” never once mentioning it contained a witness subpoena for the Bajardi v Pincus SLAPP-suit.
Another Beth Mason criminal complaint was filed the same week where an attempt at subpoena service at her Hudson St. address was claimed as harassment on September 15th, 2014.
Since the original trial date set for late May last year, one witness, a Hoboken resident who was standing only several feet away was prepared to testify the subpoena was observed quietly handed to Beth Mason by this editor.
More than a year ago, a video record of the attempted subpoena service was submitted into discovery in line with the anticipated witness testimony.
The case was however not dropped. More harassment allegations by Beth Mason were added and at the February 5th trial, the Jersey City Municipal Court Assistant Prosecutor Monica Cho entered almost ten MSV articles going back to 2012 claiming they showed “a series” of criminal harassment.
But the on the fly expanding narrative in search of evidence never materialized.
At the February 5th trial, Beth Mason rested her case consisting of nothing more than her testimony about her criminal complaints and adding MSV articles going back to 2012. The prosecutor claimed Mason was “terrified” of MSV: for both herself and her family.
For the first time, MSV is making the discovery, public documents that are issues of public concern and connected to weighty issues of the First Amendment available here.
The video below was originally filed into discovery in May of last year and is a public document. In it, this editor can be seen walking into the Hoboken City Council Chambers and to the front of the room. The subpoena was offered quietly, held out by hand and Mason then paused and reached to accept it. (She is not visible on the tape and this is the complete, unedited raw footage.) No sound or sign of any “smacked” document is heard as numerous people at the front of the dais mingle with no discernible reaction.
The attempted subpoena service to Beth Mason’s home address two days earlier on September 15th, 2014 was preserved on video and simultaneously submitted into discovery to the prosecutor’s office.
In the video, a dog is heard barking as the doorbell rings and Beth Mason’s husband, Richard Mason, an officer of the court and partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz refuses to accept the offer of a “delivery” communicated through two glass doors.
The original trial date for Bajardi v Pincus was scheduled days away later that September.
In interim update reports on the almost two year case on MSV, it was accurately reported the trial subpoena had been handed to Beth Mason at the front of the City Council with members of the public nearby.
Another defense witness was scheduled to testify today MSV had conducted an interview with Beth Mason on her problematic NJELEC complaints for hundreds of violation right on the City Council dais.
At the February trial, Beth Mason testified that at the April 2nd, 2014 City Council meeting this editor had “harassed” her and was thrown out of the meeting under police escort.
In actuality during the meeting, Mason left for a brief break and was questioned on her return right outside the council chamber doors and asked for a general comment on a complaint with potential million dollar fines issued by the state watchdog for political campaigns, NJELEC.
The response as she continued walking past back inside was “What about your millions?” The reference appeared to be a comment on the Bajardi v Pincus civil litigation. (In that 2012 case, Lane Bajardi and Kimberly Cardinal Bajardi asked each of a dozen or more Hoboken commenters for $2,000,000 alleging defamation. MSV was a named defendant in that SLAPP-suit.)
MSV reported an exclusive interview with Beth Mason, the first public comment she would make about hundreds of NJELEC campaign violations filed against her and her campaign treasurer husband, Richard Mason on April 7, 2014. The interview took place at the conclusion of the Hoboken City Council meeting on the dais in full view of the public and City Council members in attendance.
During the same week of Beth Mason filing criminal complaints, she and her husband Richard Mason hired a Manhattan law firm Schnader Harrison Seagal and Lewis to quash the subpoenas so they could avoid testifying at the Bajardi v Pincus trial.
Both subpoenas would be upheld by Hudson Superior Court but in a legal filing on Mason’s behalf, her legal papers contradicted the criminal complaint she filed in the same week. In the legal document filed in Hudson Superior Court, page 7, it reads:
“Yesterday at sessions of the Hoboken City Council, Mr. Brice appeared once again. While Ms. Mason was speaking to a constituent, Mr. Brice interrupted Ms. Mason and the constituent and pushed a trial subpoena into her hand.”
The legal motion by Mason’s law firm was also entered into discovery in the case.
|Actual image capture of Beth Mason’s legal filing in Hudson Superior Court stating she was handed a subpoena.
The legal filing contradicted her criminal complaint stating she was “smacked” in the chest with the document the linchpin to her February testimony of escalating “aggressive” and physical harassment.
The first MSV articles introduced as evidence of harassment alleged by Beth Mason included April Fool’s stories published in 2012 and 2015. Another 2013 submission by guest writer bludiamonds was a satirical piece about an upcoming mayoral election where Beth Mason’s name never appeared and most of the characters were clearly cartoonish. She testified “it was a threat to me.”
Another article entered by the prosecution, MSV’s political analysis, “The threat to Reform: the Courts as a tool for political intimidation” was deemed harassing. Mason testified on the witness stand first reading directly from the very bottom of the article:
So too, Mason testified to her unhappiness with a Halloween Parade satire with the Asst. Prosecutor claiming “it was meant to annoy and harass.” The photo came from a member of the public.
Mason piled on even more complaints during her trial testimony. While admitting she is a public figure, she also alleged she was being “followed at times” that pictures were taken outside her office of her children during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and her office was stalked “for hours, for hours!”
(MSV offered this article into evidence on what transpired outside her office on Washington St.)
No evidence on any of Beth Mason’s criminal allegations was ever offered.
|Beth Mason – all criminal allegations dismissed.
A judge ordered the continuance of a mutual no contact order.
Talking Ed Note: Thanks to everyone who has been a source of continuous support through this ordeal. Special thanks to the witnesses who were on call for numerous trial dates since May of last year which never reached completion.
Special thanks also to “the Godfather,” my counsel Alex Booth who understood and accepted I would never sign on to and relent an inch to any fabricated lies, especially of the criminal variety.
Is it me or is the irony of some of this too much for words?