News

Judge to pick court in Spike Lee’s wrong Zimmerman address tweet

Judge to pick court in Spike Lee’s wrong Zimmerman address tweet

WRONG ADDRESS: Filmmaker Spike Lee claps during a community memorial service at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama Sept. 15. He is accused of tweeting the wrong address while discussing the George Zimmerman case on the microblogging site. Photo: Reuters/Marvin Gentry

By Elizabeth Dilts

(Reuters) – A judge will decide this week which court will hear a lawsuit against filmmaker Spike Lee over a tweet that misidentified an elderly couple’s address in Florida as the home of George Zimmerman.

Less than a month before the tweet was posted, Zimmerman, a white, Hispanic neighborhood watch captain, shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager walking in his Sanford, Florida, housing complex.

Elaine McClain, 72, filed the lawsuit in Florida state court this fall, claiming Oscar-nominated director Lee encouraged “a dangerous mob mentality” when he tweeted her address to 240,000 followers.

On March 23, 2012, Lee tweeted, “George Zimmerman…” followed by the address of McClain and her husband. A lawyer for McClain said the mother of seven, who is also a great grandmother, lives about 15 miles away from Zimmerman.

On July 13 Zimmerman was acquitted of the shooting that sparked international outrage amid critics’ claims it was racially motivated.

Lee moved for the case be tried in federal district court in Orlando on the basis that the damages sought meet the minimum to be tried in a federal court, but a magistrate judge recommended last week the case be kept in state court.

It is up to U.S. District Court Judge John Antoon in Orlando to decide this week where the legal battle will take place.

Neither Lee’s attorney nor spokesman could immediately be reached for comment.

After Lee posted his initial tweet, McClain said in the lawsuit, her address was retweeted by Lee’s followers with menacing messages like, “Let the PURGE BEGIN,” and “LETS THROW THE BRO A SURPRISE PARTY! *LOADS GUN*”.

The McClains accepted a settlement on March 29, in which Lee apologized and paid Elaine McClain and her husband $10,000, court documents said.

But the McClains said that is not enough. The couple continues to receive death threats, was forced to stay at a hotel during Zimmerman’s trial, and has been unable to sell the house, according to their lawsuit.

Julia Young, a Florida plaintiff’s lawyer representing the McClains, said the terms of the settlement do not prevent them from taking legal action.

The couple is seeking unspecified damages and attorneys’ fees.

Recent Headlines

in National

Amanda Knox murder conviction overturned

FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2014, file photo, Amanda Knox prepares to leave the set following a television interview in New York. Knox is engaged to Colin Sutherland, a musician who recently moved to Seattle from New York, a person close to the Knox family confirmed for The Associated Press. Knox’s murder conviction in the 2007 stabbing of her roommate has been reinstated by an Italian court, but the former college exchange student maintains her innocence and vows she won’t willingly go back to Italy. Both Knox and Sutherland are 27. No wedding date had been set.

Italy's highest court has overturned the murder conviction against Amanda Knox, bringing to a definitive end the high-profile case.

in National

Time for Iran to make tough decisions in nuclear talks

In this March 26, 2015, photo, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, center, leaves a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other U.S. officials at a hotel in Lausanne, Switzerland. U.S. and Iranian diplomats gather at a Baroque palace in Europe, a historic nuclear agreement within reach. Over Iraq’s deserts, their militaries fight a common foe. Leaders in Washington and Tehran, capitals once a million miles from each other in ideological terms, wrestle for the first time in decades with the notion of a rapprochement.

Six world powers and Iran move closer to a deal, but there are still major disagreements.

in National

Making headlines this week

AP193442892434_0

A look at some of the week's biggest headlines and the stories you may have missed.

in Entertainment, National

Celebrities protest new Indiana law

George Takei poses for a portrait at Quaker Good Energy Lodge with GenArt and the Collective , during the Sundance Film Festival, on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 in Park City, Utah.

Celebrities call for an Indiana boycott after the passing of a controversial law that could lead to discrimination against gay couples.

in National

Senate’s Harry Reid will not seek re-election

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. adjusts his glasses as he speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 24, 2015, following a policy luncheon. Reid is wearing special glasses as part of his recovery from injuries suffered in an exercise accident in January.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid says that it would be "inappropriate" for him to seek re-election.