Jury Rules Against Owl Chapman
An eight-member federal jury in Honolulu found no proof of libel on all counts brought before the court by North Shore shaper Craig Elmer “Owl” Chapman against Journal Concepts Inc. (aka The Surfers Journal, TSJ), Steve Pezman, TSJ’s publisher and Jeff Johnson, author of the TSJ article in question.
“It’s a complete victory for the defendants and a strong affirmation of the media’s right to write about public figures,” said Jeffrey Portnoy, managing partner of Honolulu law firm Cades Schutte, which represented The Surfer’s Journal. “We’re tremendously excited. There aren’t too many jury verdicts, especially in Hawaii, and this one is one of the few.”
The two year battle, which began in 2006 between Chapman and TSJ, is now over. Chapman’s legal claims were based on a TSJ article written by Johnson article (El Hombre Invisible) that, according to Chapman and his legal team, cast an unsavory light on legendary shaper and his reputation.
“A ridiculously extreme portrait (indeed a most sinister caricature) of plaintiff emerges that casts him in a false light —- and which, further, points to a grandiose egotist who is mean-spirited, self-serving, full of braggadocio, impossibly arrogant and in the end, a degenerate, pathetic and drug-addled social outcast,” Chapman’s lawsuit claims.
Chapman vs. Journal Concepts Inc. was the first libel case to go before a jury in Hawaii in over 30 years.