Memphis Man Sues Dixie Chicks For Libel
By Mark Hengel
12/3/2008 4:39:01 PM
Country music band the Dixie Chicks are being sued for defamation in Pulaski County Circuit Court over statements the band's lead singer made about the stepfather of one of three 8-year-old boys murdered in Crittenden County in 1993.
Steve Branch, Christopher Byers and Michael Moore were found dead May 5, 1993 in a West Memphis neighborhood. Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin, all of West Memphis, were convicted of the murders.
In a complaint filed Nov. 25, Terry Hobbs, Branch's stepfather, says Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Pasdar wrongfully made a "false and reckless claim that [Hobbs] committed the murders of the three boys ..."
Pasdar, whose maiden name is Maines, allegedly made the comments during a rally Dec. 19, 2007, on the steps of the Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock.
The lawsuit also claims that Pasdar "recklessly published or caused to be published malicious, libelous, slanderous, and false statements" on the band's Web site on Nov. 26, 2007.
The statements were republished by several media outlets, including Fox News, The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, and People, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit seeks undisclosed punitive damages and "all other just and proper relief to which he may be entitled."
The case has attracted national attention, with many claiming insufficient evidence was presented to convict Echols, Misskelley and Baldwin, known as the "West Memphis Three."
Echols has unsuccessfully sought a retrial based on new DNA evidence he believes can overturn the conviction.
J. Cody Hiland of the Hiland Law Firm in Conway is representing Hobbs.