Judge: College student's Twitter parody of Mount Pleasant lawyer is protected speech

Associated Press

A Twitter feed created by a college student was intended to poke fun at a mid-Michigan lawyer and is protected by the First Amendment, a judge said in dismissing a lawsuit.

Mount Pleasant lawyer Todd Levitt sued Zachary Felton, claiming the online feed was malicious. But Isabella County Judge Paul Chamberlain said it's a parody of Levitt's own tweets about alcohol and drugs.

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"It is unlikely that a reasonable person would interpret these tweets to have been created by an attorney seeking to promote his business," Chamberlain wrote Thursday. "It would be quite foolish for an attorney to outright state by way of self-promotion that he wants college students to drink or use illegal drugs (so) he can increase his income by defending them."

Felton is a student at Central Michigan University.

"The fact that the account is titled, 'Todd 2.0,' is an initial indication that it is not an original and genuine Todd Levitt Twitter account," the judge said.

Felton's lawyer, Gordon Bloem, said it was good result.

"We are glad to see the judge found what we knew all along, that this is protected free speech," Bloem told The Morning Sun (http://bit.ly/1DILil2 ).

Levitt's attorney, Ghazey Aleck, declined to comment.

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Information from: Morning Sun, http://www.themorningsun.com/