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Home / JDs Rising / Is the Special Verdict Form to blame for the Johnny Northside verdict?
Strange result of blogger's trial may have a logical explanation

Is the Special Verdict Form to blame for the Johnny Northside verdict?

Strange result of blogger's trial may have a logical explanation

About Brett Clark

I am an attorney at the Crowley Fleck law firm in Helena, Montana. I practice civil litigation, primarily in professional liability defense and commercial litigation. Most of my clients are lawyers, accountants, and a variety of other professionals. I received my JD from the University of St. Thomas School of Law in 2006 and a BA in political science from Carroll College in Helena, Montana. Contact Brett by e-mail at


  1. Looks like you’ve outlined Hoff’s appellate brief for him!

  2. Please note that Mr. Engstrom is a second year law student at the U of MN, as stated on the blog post, and not an attorney.

  3. Patrick Thornton

    Change made. Thanks Liz

  4. I am not sure if any of my comments would be a factor in any of this discussion but, according to Terry Yzaguirre of the, (she was the only journalist who was present for the entire trial) that when Hoff was on the witness stand, he confirmed that he took “partial credit” for Moore’s firing in a follow up comment on his blog after Moore was fired.
    I am not an attorney nor have I been a juror in a trial but, I would find it difficult to overlook a statement like that, especially when it was the Defendant himself that said it.

  5. Jim Watkins, it doesn’t matter if Hoff took partial credit in a subsequent blog post. What he was taking partial credit for is bringing forward the truthful information about Jerry Moore’s past involvements in fraudulent mortgage deals. So taking credit for bringing facts to the attention of the U of M, a government funded institution, about an employee who was hired to research foreclosures is not interference with a contract! Didn’t you see the last paragraph where the guy says giving truthful information is not improper interference?

    (Disclosure: Jim Watkins is best friend of convicted mortgage fraudsters TJ Waconia and he hates John Hoff and other northside activists who fight for decency in our neighborhood. Jim now lives in TX but he cyberstalks John Hoff)

  6. Jerry Moore was fired (I use that term colloquially; it’s more accurate to say that he was a temporary employee and his contract/temp job was ended) the day after the JNS post in question. Whether John Hoff took credit for Moore’s termination or not, I find it highly unlikely that an institution as large as the U of M would decide to terminate any contract within one day of one blog post.

    Calling a University employee as a witness is not something that could be done on appeal (I think) since no new evidence is allowed. If there’s a new trial, one would expect that question to come up.

  7. 1. Jim Watkins–a small time, self-annointed Texas real estate guru who is the self-described “best friend” of TJ Waconia fraudster Thomas Balko, has haunted my blog as the “Evil Anti-Johnny” for a couple years because of my coverage of THAT high profile North Minneapolis fraud, including my publishing the only post-conviction pictures of the two fraudsters.

    He leaves much out of his comments. Including his stake in the fight.

    Here’s an example of two articles which are reasons why Jim hates my blog so much.

    Jim? Say hi to your friend in prison the next time you chat with him. I’m still trying to get my hands on his mug shot to publish.


    2. Terry Y. is a blogger who writes polemics contrary to my blog. Whatever I write, she writes the opposite and attacks what my blog says, sticking up for those precious interests that my blog supposedly victimizes: mortgage fraudsters, accused criminals, Level Three sex offenders, slumlords, and local businesses who don’t take care of the outward appearance of their buildings.

    Here. Examples of each, in order. Enjoy.

    3. The so-called follow up comment was, in fact, a blog post reporting on news of Moore’s firing. It was introduced as a Plaintiff exhibit.

    In fact, I will give you a link to it. Judge for yourself.

  8. I don’t think this verdict was based so much on the law as the fact that he is, to some, an extremely irritating person. I think the jury decided that John should pay 60K because they didn’t like him and wanted to set the karma in balance.

    Unfortunately for the plaintiff, John can’t even keep up with his child support payments and is judgment proof.

  9. @Patrick: If the jury reached its decision based upon anything other than the application of the law to the facts presented in evidence, then the jury did not do its job.

    Providing truthful information as a matter of law is not tortious interference with contract. IMHO, the statement about mortgage fraud cannot form the basis for the tortious interference claim since the jury found affirmatively that the statement was true. Unless there is some independent basis in the record for tortious interference, then the verdict is probably vulnerable on appeal.

  10. I never had the feeling the jury disliked me at all. In fact, I remember a moment when the plaintiff attorney was asking me about an article I wrote “attacking” Lennie Chism, who ran for 5th Ward City Council and came in fifth in a five-person race.

    When I said, “The man threw a woman from a moving car…allegedly, according to a police report. He was running for public office. I had the information in my hands. You better believe I published it…”

    At that moment I felt a strong connection with the “lunch lady” juror. No, I never had the feeling the jury disliked me at all. They ruled what I wrote was the truth.

    I should make it clear what was the ONE SENTENCE on trial, here, for defamation. Here is that sentence:
    Repeated and specific evidence in Hennepin County District Court shows Jerry Moore was involved with a high-profile fraudulent mortgage at 1564 Hillside Ave. N.
    Here’s a link to the article in question. Ruled NOT DEFAMATORY.

    By the way, “Patrick” is the name of an annoying troll who has haunted my blog since around the time of the Pamiko properties scandal, the biggest story ever broken on Johnny Northside Dot Com, ultimately picked up by both Star Tribune and City Pages.

  11. To find out what John Hoff is all about check out these links:

    Especially the part of exposing and making fun of a RAPE VICTIM:.

    John Hoff is no naive, little undergrad. He’s a 40 yr old journalism grad student/activist who wrote a popular book on dumpster-diving,

    tried to challenge Seattle’s sidewalk sitting ordinance,

    was at the 1999 Seattle WTO riots, then moved to Grand Forks and got elected to the city council as a “Green Libertarian,” but pissed so many people off they held a special election and recalled him,

    had some harebrained scheme to buy up cheap farmland and turn it into some kind of commune/prairie reclamation/hemp farm,

    at UND he got the student newspaper editor in trouble by publishing the real name of a date rape victim in his column,

    caused all kinds of trouble in the student government,

    since then, unfortunately for us, he’s been burdening us with his presence at the U of M, although he still manages to piss off North Dakotans,

    then threatened to have the FCC regulate the radio talk show host’s blog, because they offended him (free speech advocate he’s not, at least not if he disagrees with you),

    and after the pathetic ant-war protests a few weeks ago, he criticized them for not targeting ROTC or the Washington Ave recruiting offices (like last year, when they covered the storefronts with red paint, 6 were arrested).

    ***And this just touches on things John Hoff has prior to 2007. Publishing the name and making light of a young RAPE VICTIM is inexcusable. Not much this guy who floated into town a few years ago prints is honorable or factual.

    But then again the jury already decided that because they heard ALL the statements and not just the one touted in the news. They also heard ALL of the MALICIOUS ACTS of intentional interference.

    Even if Verdict form is the cause for the complete loss in the case, it is John Hoff’s fault.

    He supposedly graduated from law school and should have known better. It appears the jury gave John Willard Hoff an “F” on his Judgement Day.

  12. Mr. Clark,

    I agree with you that it doesn’t appear as if the jury followed the law, at least not based on what I now know. That said, there was all sorts of evidence at the trail that neither of us are familiar with.

    I think we can agree that judges don’t like to upset jury verdicts. I think it is also true that on appeal the appellate court can look for any evidence supporting the verdict and use that to uphold the verdict. The appellate court doesn’t necessarily have to agree with the verdict, rather their job will be to find some evidence supporting the verdict.

    And I’m not sure who the “troll” that John is speaking of is. I found the story through the star tribune and through google found some of the anti-john hoff websites. If you follow these links you’ll see the court documents from his feeble attempts to avoid his child support obligations, which demonstrate that he is judgment proof. So I hope the plaintiff wouldn’t put too much effort into collecting (unless of course they were just doing it for spite).

  13. @ John: I motivate you? To do what? Your style of reporting the so-called “news” makes Geraldo and Morton Downey Jr. look like the most respected journalists in the world. But, I am glad I motivate you. It has been interesting looking into your background to say the least. I forget but, how long were you on the Grand Forks City Council before a special recall election was held to remove you from office? Four months? Oh, here is the link that talks about that fiasco:

    Remember when you published the name of a rape victim that got your editor in a mess of trouble? Even Geraldo wouldn’t do that.
    Anyway, anyone wanting to learn about John Hoff can visit my site at:

    @ Megan: What a disclosure! That seems to be the thing you cling to every time you set out to discredit me. Nothing else of fact that you can use?
    Anyway, here is a disclosure of my own:
    DISCLOSURE: Megan “the Super Citizen” Goodmundson (also a current JACC board member) recently lost her house via foreclosure. After the redemption period ended, Megan’s parents, along with the help of a north Minneapolis Realtor purchased the house from the lender that foreclosed. The disturbing part about the deal is the lender refinanced the mortgage in 2004 for $161,000 and because of the down market at the time Megan stopped making payments, her parents were able to buy it from the lender for $32,000 in 2009!
    To recap the shady deal… This “super citizen” stiffed the lender for roughly ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY THOUSAND DOLLARS!
    It makes me wonder is you DISCLOSED to the lender who exactly was buying the house?
    And you have the audacity to run around town claiming to be one of the good guys trying to revitalize the neighborhood! You screwed the bank for $130,000 and you call other people a criminal?
    If your scam isn’t fraud, then what do you call it? (Folks, this is where Megan chooses to not answer. It is her style to point fingers but, not own up to her own wrongdoings)
    Here is the link to all the information:

  14. Should that be “pore over” rather than “pour over”?

  15. God is in the Details: Moore v. Hoff Jury Instructions

    In order to understand what was at issue, it’s important to understand what was contained in the Jury’s instruction and how it came into being. These instructions are the guidelines to be used by the jury upon which to base their collective decision. In spite of Judge Riley’s order to the attorneys in the case to produce jury instruction prior to the trial, Defense attorney Godfread failed to comply before the appointed time.

  16. As one who has followed this case from the beginning, I disagree with Patrick that the jury did not follow the law. They did in fact follow their instructions and their verdict was fair and just.
    I think the basic fact is that they saw is that John Hoff is a malicious predator who enjoys the misery, hurt, and harm he inflicts on his victims. He loves the feeling of power, he has stated so, and has stated his desire to be the “dominant blogger in north Minneapolis”, and woe to anyone who gets in his way.
    There is absolutely no question that John Hoff intends to cause his victims emotional harm and distress. Just read his blog. He doesn’t “report” news facts. He embellishes his articles with character assassinations, derogatory comments, spiteful insinuations, and hurtful comments. It is absolutely his desire to destroy a person’s reputation without any consideration for feelings or how his comments will have an effect on the person, or the person’s family. He appears to be a heartless and inhumane predator. If you should cross John Hoff he will threaten you with “1st Amendment retaliation”. In other words he will abuse the freedom of speech to destroy your reputation in retaliation for whatever problem you caused him. And there is absolutely documented evidence that these are accurate statements, and his blog is the best source of this evidence.
    John Hoff has a trail of victims going back at least 10 years, in multiple states.
    One can only assume that the jury saw John Hoff for the person that he truthfully is: a mean, nasty, vindictive, malicious, inhumane, cold-hearted, thug. The man clearly has no conscience. And no matter what comment you may post to his blog he has some sardonic “in-your-face” response. And to make matters worse, he has absolutely no grasp of the meaning of the comments that are critical of his behavior. The only thing he sees in those comments are spelling and grammatical errors.
    Look at the facts. He just lost a civil case to the tune of $60,000 + fees, and the first thing he does is start writing articles threatening to expose the Plaintiff from the civil suit [Jerry Moore] to more harassment and emotional distress. John Hoff doesn’t comprehend that the jury awarded damages for emotional distress. The only thing that his brain appears to be processing is that the jury said that certain facts in his article were not false.
    So somehow his mind manufactures the rational that it is acceptable for him to subject Mr. Moore to further harassment, character assassination, and more emotional distress.
    It is just totally bizarre to me that John Hoff, who has a law degree and experience working with mentally disturbed people, is so absolutely ignorant of why his life is continually in a downward spiral. He clearly has no concept of his own self-disintegration.
    Those that comment in his blog that he needs serious psychological therapy may be making the most truthful statements published in his blog.

  17. Really? The guy who tries to expose all the mortgage fraud in his neighborhood is the one with no conscience? Funny.

    Jerome puts one thing very well.

    Just read the blog.

  18. The only thing John Hoff cares about is publicity. Doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad, as long as his name gets published – somewhere, anywhere. I suppose he’d be joyous to get his name listed on a jail roster as long as people saw it.
    According to chapters in a book he published, he is a professional “media manipulator”. That is he knows how to 1) get the media to latch on to a story he has concocted, and 2) He knows how to put the spin on a story (manipulate it) to create controversy and bring readers to his blog. Unfortunately for him, sometimes his distorted facts and outright lies create a backfire and he gets sued. How many other bloggers (or “real” reporters) get sued? Hoff has been sued several times (and more waiting in the wings for a future court of appeals ruling) and recently lost, having a jury sock him with a $60,000 judgment for harassment and emotional distress.
    John Hoff is a professional at using the internet to stalk, harass, intimidate, and violate the rights of his victims; all the while claiming that he is protected by the 1st Amendment of the US constitution. One has to wonder why a guy like John Hoff, who has a law degree, isn’t intelligent enough to keep himself from being dragged into court by his victims.
    One answer could be that there is a history of mental illness in his family (this is a documented fact that John has written about in his books). John’s father, Willard, has a long history of petty crimes and mental illness. The authorities tried to commit Judd Hoff (John’s brother) as mentally ill. And John himself displays all the characteristics of a sociopath, is not a psychopath. John Hoff has a lengthy history of self-destructive behaviors, and never learns from his experiences. He continually puts his hand on the hot stove and gets burned. The problem with John Hoff is that one of these days his destructive and volatile behaviors are going to cause serious injury to an innocent person.

    People need to consider the harm John Hoff does to the north Minneapolis community. His racist rants about the black residents and Jewish store owners paint his NoMi home as a festering cesspool of crime and decay where no rational person would want to live.
    While the Neighborhood Revitalization groups try to attract new residents by highlighting the benefits of North Minneapolis and offering housing deals, John Hoff chases them away by posting the jail roster and annotating that most of the “thugs” live North-side; illustrating his blog with photos of a prostitute taking a crap on the boulevard.
    John Hoff has no passion for North Minneapolis; it is simply a tool he uses to bring attention to himself. It’s what he does. It’s what he has done in the past. He moves to a town, finds a cause, and uses that cause to bring attention to his name. The only thing John Hoff loves is himself.
    And as soon as he has sucked as much attention as he can from Minneapolis, and manipulated the media until they catch-on to his game, he will pack his bags and move on the next town.
    And his next move can’t come soon enough. I pity the town that he adopts next.

  19. I am an equal opportunity blogger who does not care about race or religion. I do care whether you are a sex offender, a criminal, a mortgage fraudster or a store owner that won’t fix a terrible looking storefront after being asked by the community over and over. (Though, to be fair, after I dished up heaps of public outcry, that storefront did actually get fixed up)

    For some reason, enemies of my blog love to say I will eventually leave North Minneapolis. That will simply never happen. This is the place I have picked to live, having learned one thing from my many travels: you are more effective as an agent of chance if you root yourself in one spot as a property owner and, hey, it’s not like you can’t TRAVEL and go see other places. I suppose it’s just wishful thinking on their part.

    Oh, gee. This is kind of an old thread. WE WON AT THE COURT OF APPEALS. YAY!!!

  20. What readers need to understand is that John Hoff is a mentally disturbed war veteran who refuses to get help. Free treatment is available from the VA, but he doesn’t recognize that he is paranoid and delusional. Hoff is currently serving in the Oklahoma National Guard. Please contact: Brigadier General Glen E. Moore 3501 Military Circle Oklahoma City, OK 73111 and ask that they refer Hoff to get the help he needs before he actually hurts someone.

  21. What readers need to understand is that John Hoff is a mentally disturbed war veteran who refuses to get help. Free treatment is available from the VA, but he doesn’t recognize that he is paranoid and delusional. Hoff is currently serving in the Oklahoma National Guard because the Minnesota Guard wouldn’t deploy him. Please contact: Brigadier General Glen E. Moore 3501 Military Circle Oklahoma City, OK 73111 and let the National Guard know that you are concerned about John Hoff’s mental health and ask that they refer Hoff to get the help he needs before he actually hurts someone.
    All communications will be private and not available to John Hoff.
    Let’s get John the help he needs before he actually hurts someone, and let’s keep America safe. We don’t need another mass shooting.

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