Tired Jacob Hiles Sues Big CNN Outlet For Defamation

Who Is Jacob Hiles?

Jacob Hiles, a Virginia man involved in the January 6 Capitol riot, faced significant legal repercussions for his actions during the event. His case is a part of the broader context of the Capitol riot, where a multitude of individuals were charged with various offenses ranging from trespassing to more serious accusations. Hiles’ involvement in the riot and the subsequent legal proceedings against him offer insight into the complexities of the judicial responses to the events of January 6.

What He Was Charged With

Hiles was charged with one misdemeanor count of parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building. This charge is notably on the lower end of the spectrum in terms of severity when compared to other charges levied against participants in the Capitol riot. The charge itself reflects actions that are considered disruptive or demonstrative in nature within the Capitol building, a significant federal property. Such a charge is indicative of his participation in the riot but does not necessarily imply violent or destructive behavior, which has been a point of distinction in the prosecution of various individuals involved in the events of that day.

His Sentencing For His Charges

Upon pleading guilty to this charge, Hiles was sentenced to two years of probation. Probation is a form of court-ordered supervision, often used in lieu of, or in addition to, incarceration for criminal offenses. It typically involves regular check-ins with a probation officer, adherence to specific rules and guidelines set by the court, and often requires the individual to avoid further legal trouble. In addition to probation, Hiles was also ordered to complete 60 hours of community service. Community service as a part of sentencing is intended to provide a rehabilitative opportunity for the offender to contribute positively to society, often seen as a way to make amends for the crime committed.

The sentence handed down to Hiles aligns with a pattern observed in the prosecution of several Capitol rioters, where individuals charged with non-violent misdemeanors have often received sentences that focus more on probation and community service rather than extended periods of incarceration. This approach appears to reflect an effort by the judicial system to balance the need for accountability for the events of January 6 with considerations of the individual roles and actions of the participants.

Hiles’ case, like many others connected to the Capitol riot, also highlights the ongoing debates and discussions around the legal, political, and social implications of the events of January 6. The varied charges and sentences reflect the complexity of the legal system’s response to the riot, balancing the gravity of the event with individual actions and responsibilities. As legal proceedings continue for many individuals involved in the Capitol riot, cases like that of Hiles will likely continue to be a point of reference in understanding the broader judicial landscape of this significant historical event.

Why Is He Suing CNN

This lawsuit stems from an article published by CNN on October 15, 2021, titled “U.S. Capitol Police Officer Indicted on Obstruction of Justice Charges in Connection with January 6.” The article initially focused on the indictment of Michael Angelo Riley, a Capitol Police officer. However, it later shifted its focus to Hiles, with a specific subheading that read: “Man Wanted to Start a Revolution on January 6.”

Defamation Lawsuit

The lawsuit by Hiles centers around this particular subheading and the content of the article, which he alleges defamed him. According to Hiles, the subheading and the article’s contents falsely accused him of felonious criminal activity, of which he was neither charged nor convicted. Hiles, who had pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building, argues that the CNN article painted him in a light that suggested more serious criminal intentions and actions.

Initially, Hiles sought $37 million in compensatory damages, but he has since increased this amount to $100 million. His legal team has requested a default judgment against CNN, alleging that the network’s counsel has not met legal requirements or communicated with Hiles’s attorneys for several months. This request for default judgment is based on CNN’s alleged failure to comply with certain legal procedures, including setting a motion for hearing and engaging in a required meet-and-confer process with the plaintiff’s counsel.

Motion To Dismiss

CNN filed a motion in August 2023 to dismiss Hiles’ amended complaint, but Hiles’ attorneys argue that CNN has not complied with Virginia’s local Rule 7(E), which required the network to set the motion for hearing or arrange for submission without oral argument within 30 days of filing their motion. Furthermore, they claim CNN failed to meet and confer with Hiles’s counsel to narrow the areas of disagreement.

This lawsuit highlights the ongoing tensions and legal battles stemming from the events of January 6, particularly around how individuals involved in the riots are portrayed in the media. The case raises significant questions about defamation, the portrayal of individuals in news media, and the legal responsibilities of both parties in such a lawsuit. Hiles’s case against CNN, therefore, is not just about seeking damages for alleged defamation but also touches upon broader issues of media representation and legal accountability.

What Is Filing For “Default” Mean?

Filing for a default judgment is a critical legal procedure in civil litigation, representing a significant turning point in a lawsuit. This action occurs when one party to a lawsuit, typically the plaintiff, requests the court to rule in their favor due to the other party’s failure to respond or participate in the legal process adequately. Understanding the implications and process of filing for default judgment sheds light on its strategic use in legal disputes and the safeguards inherent in the legal system to ensure fair proceedings.

When a lawsuit is filed, the defendant is required to respond to the plaintiff’s complaint within a specified timeframe, usually set by court rules. This response can take various forms, including an answer to the allegations, a motion to dismiss the case, or other preliminary motions. If the defendant fails to respond within the prescribed period, they are said to be “in default.” This lack of response can be due to various reasons, such as oversight, strategic decisions, or deliberate avoidance. When a defendant is in default, the plaintiff can file a motion for default judgment, effectively asking the court to grant them a win by default because the defendant has not defended against the lawsuit.

How To Obtain A Default Judgement

The process of obtaining a default judgment typically involves several steps. The plaintiff must first file a formal motion with the court, stating that the defendant is in default and that they, the plaintiff, are entitled to judgment. The court then reviews the motion, along with the initial complaint and any supporting evidence provided by the plaintiff. It’s crucial to note that a default judgment is not automatic; the court must be convinced that the plaintiff’s case has merit and that the defendant was given a fair opportunity to respond.

In evaluating the motion for default judgment, the court considers whether the plaintiff’s claims appear legally valid and whether the relief sought is appropriate. The court may require additional evidence or hold a hearing, particularly when the amount of damages or the nature of the relief sought is unclear. This step ensures that even in the absence of the defendant’s participation, the plaintiff’s claims are scrutinized to prevent unjust enrichment or unfair outcomes.

The Advantages Of Obtaining A Default Judgement

Obtaining a default judgment can be advantageous for the plaintiff, as it can expedite the resolution of the case and avoid the uncertainties of a trial. However, it also carries risks. Default judgments can be overturned if the defendant later shows a valid reason for their failure to respond, such as not being properly served with the lawsuit. Additionally, courts are generally cautious about granting default judgments, preferring that cases be decided on their merits rather than procedural technicalities.

In the context of civil litigation, filing for default judgment is a mechanism that balances the need to move cases forward with the rights of both parties to have their day in court. It underscores the importance of participation in the legal process and serves as a reminder of the consequences of failing to engage in a timely and appropriate manner. The process reflects the legal system’s commitment to fairness and due process, ensuring that judgments are based on a comprehensive examination of the facts and legal principles involved.

Can You Reverse A Default Judgment?

Once a default judgment is entered by a court, it represents a final decision in the lawsuit favoring the party who requested it, usually the plaintiff. However, this judgment is not necessarily the end of the legal road for the opposing party, typically the defendant. There are legal mechanisms available for the defendant to seek to reverse or set aside a default judgment, although this process can be complex and challenging.

The primary avenue for a defendant to challenge a default judgment is by filing a motion to set aside the judgment. This motion is a formal request asking the court to nullify the default judgment due to specific reasons. The legal standards and procedures for such motions vary depending on the jurisdiction, but generally, the defendant must demonstrate a valid reason for their failure to respond to the original lawsuit and a potentially meritorious defense to the plaintiff’s claims.

Improper Service

One common ground for filing a motion to set aside a default judgment is the claim of improper service. In legal proceedings, defendants must be properly notified of the lawsuit and the requirement to respond – a process known as service of process. If the defendant can prove that they were not properly served, the court may consider setting aside the default judgment. This argument hinges on the principle that a defendant cannot be expected to respond to a lawsuit they were not aware of.

Excusable Neglect

Another basis for seeking to set aside a default judgment is excusable neglect. This argument acknowledges that the defendant failed to respond but asserts that the failure was due to a reasonable mistake, inadvertence, or other circumstances beyond their control. To succeed on this ground, the defendant must generally show that they have a valid defense to the lawsuit – that is, they have a reasonable chance of winning if the case proceeds to trial.

The court’s decision to set aside a default judgment involves balancing the interests of both parties. The court considers the reasons for the defendant’s failure to respond, the potential prejudice to the plaintiff if the judgment is set aside, and the overall interest of justice. Courts generally prefer to resolve cases on their merits rather than on procedural technicalities, so they may be inclined to set aside a default judgment if the defendant presents a compelling case.

However, it’s important to note that overturning a default judgment is not a simple or guaranteed process. Defendants seeking to set aside a default judgment must act promptly and provide a convincing explanation for their initial failure to respond. The process underscores the importance of engaging in legal proceedings attentively and responsibly, as reversing a default judgment is an uphill battle that requires navigating complex legal standards and convincing a court to revisit its final decision.

Need Help? Call Us Now!

Do not forget that when you or anyone you know is facing a criminal charge, you have us, the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, by your side to help you build the best defense case for you. We will work and be in your best interest for you and we will obtain the best possible outcome that can benefit you.

Our team is here to explain your trial, guiding you through the criminal justice process with clarity and support every step of the way. If you’re navigating the complexities of criminal charges and the court system seems daunting, reach out.

Therefore, do not hesitate to call us if you find yourself or someone you know that is facing criminal charges unsure about the court system. We will work with you to give you the best type of defense that can help you solve your case. It is vital to have someone explain the result of the charge to you and guide you in the best possible way.

Here at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we have professional and knowledgeable criminal law attorneys who are experienced in building a defense case for you that suits your needs for the best possible outcome that can benefit you.  

Also, here at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, you are given a free consultation at your convenience. You may choose to have your appointment via Zoom, google meet, email, or an in-person appointment; and we will provide you with as much advice and information as possible so you can have the best possible result in your case. 

Call us now at (281) 810-9760.

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