Alaska Supreme Court affirms ruling in Olivit suit

Additional claims of bias by Juneau court dismissed

Posted: Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Alaska Supreme Court has affirmed an earlier Juneau Superior Court decision dismissing all claims brought by Juneau resident Jake Olivit against the city and the Juneau Empire for defamation, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

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The suit began in 2006 after Olivit implied that the city and its staff arranged for an article to be published in the Juneau Empire as retaliation after Olivit filed suit against the city for alleged police harassment, according to the Supreme Court opinion.

"We're grateful that the lower court was affirmed on all points," said John Hartle, the city's attorney named in the suit.

In the Supreme Court's decision released Friday, additional claims of bias by the Juneau Superior Court were dismissed.

"The Superior Court made exemplary efforts in instructing and advising Olivit," the high court said.

Olivit acted as his own attorney in the case.

Hartle said the city was found not liable on every one of the many issues in this case. The Supreme Court affirmed the Superior Court's granting of summary judgment to the city, the Empire, the reporter and himself, he said.

Hartle called the suit a "waste of money."

Olivit could not be reached for comment Monday.

Juneau Empire publisher Robert Hale said the Supreme Court was correct in saying the lower court was not in error.

The suit was Olivit's sixth against the city. The recent decision was the second issued by the Alaska Supreme Court in a suit brought against the city by Olivit. Both times the Supreme Court sided with the city, Hartle said.

"He has not allowed a lack of success to deter his proclivity for litigation," Hale said.

Olivit could try to resuscitate his list of claims by petitioning the nation's highest court. But, statistically odds are low the U.S. Supreme Court would hear Olivit's case, Hartle said.

• Contact Greg Skinner at 523-2258 or greg.skinner@juneauempire.com.



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