Photo  by Tom Edwards via Wikimedia Commons.
Photo by Tom Edwards via Wikimedia Commons.

An appellate court panel Monday upheld a jury’s verdict that exonerated Courtney Love of allegations that she defamed an attorney who represented the singer in a planned case against the estate of her late husband, Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain.

The three-justice panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal unanimously ruled that in January 2014, the six-man, six-woman Los Angeles Superior Court jury was justified in finding that Love did not act with actual malice in her comments regarding attorney Rhonda Holmes.

It was the first trial testing of whether someone can be defamed by remarks made on Twitter.

“Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to (Love), we conclude that there is substantial evidence to support the jury’s finding that although (Love’s) statement was false and injurious, Holmes failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that (Love) knew the statement was false or had serious doubts about the truth of the statement,” Justice Thomas Willhite wrote in authoring the 14-page decision.

Holmes alleged Love made a statement via the Twitter social media site, and later implied in an interview with Canadian radio broadcaster Alan Cross, that the lawyer was bribed to stop representing her.

Holmes had to prove Love acted with malice because the attorney was a limited-purpose public figure.

Love hired Holmes to investigate whether the Cobain estate was looted to the detriment of their daughter, Frances Bean Cobain.

Holmes and her firm sued Love in May 2011 for defamation, Judge Michael Johnson granted a defense motion to dismiss the firm as a plaintiff.

In the June 2010 tweet, Love identified Holmes and said she was “bought off.” Love maintained the tweet was accidentally released to the public instead of to a limited audience with whom she was chatting via Twitter’s direct messaging system.

Love said she quickly deleted the tweet. Her attorney, John Lawrence, said during his final argument that the statement was “the tweet that virtually no one saw.”

Holmes denied abandoning Love and said the singer fired her so she could take her case to another lawyer. Holmes’ lawyers said that Love later tried to bring Holmes back into the case, but that their client refused because she was involved in another trial.

Holmes’ attorney, Barry Langberg, said there was no evidence presented during the trial that Love was telling the truth when she alleged in the tweet that Homes was bribed.

Langberg said that in addition to the tweet and the comments to Cross, Love also said on the “Howard Stern Show” that a female attorney who had been representing her was “corrupted, compromised and gotten to.”

— Wire reports 

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