Almost a year after asking a federal court to throw out an election company’s $1.6 billion defamation suit, lawyers for One America News got their answer Monday.
Judge Carl J. Nichols in Washington, D.C., denied several motions from Herring Networks, operator of the far-right OAN network based in San Diego.
The Herrings, and others, are being sued by Dominion Voting Systems over OAN promoting Donald Trump and allies’ lies that Dominion machines were rigged in 2020 to elect Joe Biden president.
In June, Nichols made a similar call. The 2019 Trump appointee rejected a Herring effort to derail the defamation suit by Smartmatic, another elections tech company.
In Monday’s order, Nichols rejected Herring arguments that a similar case in Colorado involving a former Dominion employee should be the lone court action to proceed.
Nichols also denied an effort to move the case to Colorado, where Dominion is based.
“Allegedly defamatory broadcasts that caused Dominion’s injury … were filmed and produced at OAN’s D.C. bureau,” Nichols wrote in a 25-page memo. “Indeed, none of Defendants’ allegedly defamatory conduct occurred in Colorado.”
Further, Nichols wrote that the Herrings “do not devote a single sentence — in either their opening brief or their reply — to the question of venue.”
He added: “Defendants have thus failed to establish that Dominion could have properly filed this suit in the District of Colorado, and their motion to transfer can be denied on that basis alone.”
The judge also noted that OAN White House reporter Chanel Rion and former correspondent Christina Bobb are D.C. residents, “and OAN and the Herrings conduct substantial business in the District.”
A spokesperson for Dominion told Law&Crime: “We are pleased to see this process moving forward to hold OAN accountable.”
The Herrings — OAN founder Robert and son Charles — and their legal team did not immediately respond to a Times of San Diego request for comment.
A final OAN motion — seeking to exclude the Herrings from the suit — also was denied.
“The Herrings are also subject to personal jurisdiction in the District [of Columbia],” Nichols wrote. “According to the Complaint, the Herrings exercised complete control over the Dominion-related content produced at OAN’s D.C. bureau.”
Dominion alleges that false stories were examples of what were referred to internally at OAN as “H stories” — reports that the Herrings personally approved and required OAN to run, Nichols noted.
“Charles Herring, for example, allegedly ‘reviewed drafts, and approved final drafts for broadcasting, of at least some of the false Dominion stories,’” and “he regularly travels to OAN’s Washington, D.C. bureau as part of his oversight and control of its operations,” the judge said.
Robert Herring is described as the “de facto news director” for the network, and he exercises “a ton of influence over every aspect of the newscast,” the judge said.
In another case Monday, Judge Nichols ruled that former Trump White House aide Steve Bannon will remain free from serving a four-month prison sentence, pending his appeals of a recent conviction on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress.
No trial date has been set in the Dominion suit, filed in August 2021.