BIG VICTORY FOR ALTERNATIVE TENTACLES RECORDS AND JELLO BIAFRA
In 1996 the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police and Officer John Whalen filed a $2.2 million dollar lawsuit against Jello Biafra and Alternative Tentacles Records. The suit suit stemmed from a photo used on the cover of the "Our Will Be Done" album by The Crucifucks. The posed picture had been used previously in a PR campaign by the Philadelphia police and depicted Whalen as a shot down officer.
In April of 1997 a default judgment was ordered in the case against Biafra and AT when due to not being served proper notices they failed to appear for trial. This judgment was appealed, and on December 29, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit and thus struck down the $2.2 million default judgment..
According to AT's attorney Richard Stott, the judges decision was based on the fact that the FOP is an organization, and unlike a person can not claim defamation. The judge also ruled that no reasonable person who viewed the photo in question could know that the cop was Officer Whalen.
When asked for comments following the ruling, Jello Biafra said. "Of all the legal harassment I've been through, this has to be the most groundless, mean-spirited and ridiculous."
The FOP has been reported as planning to appeal this decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals.