Bochner PLLC is proud to announce a major victory in its First Amendment and Defamation practice groups. More importantly, we are humbled to do our part in the quest to fight anti-Semitism and crush it, wherever it may be and in all its forms. Bochner PLLC also thanks renowned pro-Jewish civil rights organization The Lawfare Project for its generous assistance and support in this matter, and for its ongoing support of this critically important endeavor.

In October 2021, Tamar Herman, a beloved Jewish teacher at Seth Boyden Elementary School in Maplewood, New Jersey, had her world turned upside down when several prominent figures with large social media followings falsely accused her of abusing and discriminating against one of her second-grade students, a Muslim girl. The ensuing firestorm came to a head with Ms. Herman being wrongfully suspended from her teaching position, subjected to death threats, and forced to relocate to a different County.

Almost one year later, in October 2022, the New York, NY-based firm of Bochner PLLC commenced a lawsuit for Defamation and False Light in New Jersey Superior Court in Union County to hold those who smeared Ms. Herman’s name and ignited hate accountable their anti-Semitic and destructive false statements. The lawsuit, which names as Defendants Olympic fencer and author Ibtihaj Muhammad, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), CAIR-NJ (CAIR’s New Jersey chapter), and CAIR-NJ’s Executive Director Selaedin Maksut (the “Defendants”), alleges that the Defendants published numerous online lies about Ms. Herman’s interaction with the second-grade student in order to draw attention to themselves and generate anti-Semitic outrage amongst their hundreds of thousands of social media followers.

Early this year, the Defendants filed motions to dismiss Ms. Herman’s lawsuit, and Muhammad also filed a motion for summary judgment. Months of heavy motion practice followed.

After a one-hour oral argument last Friday, October 20th, Judge Daniel R. Lindemann today denied all four of Defendant’s motions, allowing the lawsuit to proceed and Ms. Herman the opportunity to vindicate her reputation.

The lawsuit has been handled by Bochner PLLC litigators Edward Andrew Paltzik and Erik Dykema.

Mr. Paltzik, commenting on today’s decision, observed: “It is morally wrong and against the law to tell lies about people that destroy their lives. Today, the New Jersey Superior Court reinforced these time-honored principles and correctly permitted Tamar Herman’s quest for justice to continue. No one, including celebrities and social media ‘influencers,’ is free to spread destructive falsehoods without consequences. We hope that this decision by the Court sends a message that people who engage in defamation, trolling, harassment, and other despicable behavior online will be held accountable. Most people would think twice or be ashamed to say such things in real life –they should be ashamed to say them online as well.”

Mr. Dykema added: “We applaud this decision by the Superior Court of New Jersey, which allows Tamar Herman the right to proceed with her case, clear her name, and obtain justice. The United States is the greatest country in the world, and one of the reasons it is so great is because of the First Amendment to our Constitution, which enshrines the freedom to have and speak your opinion. But, as the Court held today, it is NOT an “opinion” to tell lies about a beloved 2nd grade teacher, or to use the platform of social media to trick people into thinking that Ms. Herman has committed abusive or violent acts; or to whip up a mob to run her out of her own town with death threats.”

Managing Partner Andrew Bochner noted: “Bochner PLLC has an unwavering commitment to fighting anti-Semitism and hate in all forms, wherever it may be. We are pleased with today’s decision and will continue to tirelessly defend and protect the Jewish community against vile and bigoted attacks. We also wish to thank our friends at The Lawfare Project for their shared commitment to this all-important cause.”

Shortly after the allegations surfaced, the Essex County Prosecutor's Office, which is responsible for investigating local bias crimes, launched a probe into the incident. After continuing an assessment for a few months, in January 2022, they announced that they will not seek criminal charges in the matter.

They ultimately concluded there was insufficient evidence to sustain a criminal prosecution in the case, they said.

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