Sanders v. American Broadcasting Corporation — Case 98 CV 2904

Second Judicial District — Denver County

District Court Judge John Coughlin
Hearing date: November, 1998
Matter before the bar: Defamation, misrepresentation, unjust enrichment

Linda Sanders, a paralegal, had done some legal research into the issue of "common law courts" as referred to in Colorado Revised Statutes § 2-4-211. A few Colorado citizens were establishing "common law courts" under the authority of Article II, Sections I and II of the Colorado Constitution and issuing judgements, and liens, against certain judges they perceived as abusive. For this reason, someone told ABC News (Peter Jennings News Hour) that Ms. Sanders would be able to comment on the subject.

Barry Sarafin, the researcher for ABC News, called Ms. Sanders and set up an interview at which she talked about the public's concern for today's "out of control judiciary." Sanders also talked about "the patriot movement" whereby many people were becoming openly critical of government because of the erosion of Constitutional liberties and the lack of redress.

Sanders had her friend videotape the interview, which was lead by Barry Sarafin, at the same time the ABC camera crew was filming for the show. Shortly thereafter ABC aired the piece with Linda Sanders' comments on the legal authority for "common law courts." About a year later ABC edited the newspiece and inserted it into a show for "The Justice Files" on Discovery Channel.

Sanders did not know this had been done until her law instructor called her from New York and asked her: "What in the world are you doing out there in Colorado?" Sanders' neutral comments on "common law" had been edited and inserted into a show about anti-government terrorists. Because Sanders comments had been taken out of context it appeared she was saying something other than what she really said. Because of the recent passage of the "Patriot Act" that makes criticism of government on a mass scale "for the purpose of overthrowing a government" an illegal act, Sanders felt that she had to clear her name and thus sued ABC for using her face and comments out of context.

Sanders also felt that ABC was making money off her likeness and research because the Discovery Channel is a "for profit" enterprise with many advertisers. Sanders demanded, and paid for, a jury trial because she wanted her peers to view the original interview and see how it had been distorted for use in the show "The Justice Files."

Judge Coughlin dismissed Sanders' claims prior to the completion of discovery — holding that the media can present information any way they want if "it's for the public good." This holding usurps the power of the jury and is in contradiction to the Colorado Constitution.

Judge John Coughlin has a history of holding his opinion higher than enacted law as many Coloradoans have discovered.

The Relevant Law

How Judge Coughlin Corrupted The Law

Colorado Constitution: Article II Section 10

The Colorado Constitution provides for a jury to determine whether or not the media oversteps its privileged protection under the First Amendment [freedom of speech].


A jury alone can decide if the facts prove that a person was portrayed incorrectly, or defamed, by the media.


However, many of these cases are dismissed by Judge Coughlin before the facts are ever presented to a jury.


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