Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to assisting you today. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification.
First off, if her mother is a judge and sent a letter like that then it is extremely likely that she violated the the canons of judicial ethics since she was essentially using her position as a judge in an attempt to influence someone's behavior and obtain a favorable result for her daughter.
As to the rest, I need you to be a little more specific in your question(s) if you could. When we answer general ones like "what are her rights" we have to give general answers and, invariably, the customer responds with "I already knew that". This type of forum works better if you ask specific questions so we know exactly what you are looking for.
Hi Dwayne, Thanks in advance for you help.I guess my main questions are could she actually sue me for defamation of character based on what I said, and could she actually bring up litigation against me for the images. I would be happy to delete the images and never speak to them again. Without a release, I have no more rights to them than she does for distribution, I solely retain ownership of my creative property. I was very confused about her saying that her daughter paid us with her time, therefor we must treat it like a paid shoot in priority with such.There were two other things that were really unnerving about her email. She had mentioned that she acknowledged that my boyfriend is a medical marijuana patient in the state of California, and essentially said to me "I hope he has a prescription, because it seems shaky, and I plan to use that against you"
and she called me calling her daughter/client amateur as slander, which I understand to be serious.
Could she sue you? Yes, anyone can sue anyone for anything. However, she isn't likely to be successful in the lawsuit because the facts you have given don't indicate anything defamatory or slanderous.
She has an argument to sue for copies of the images that you promised her but the issue here is that you haven't said you wouldn't provide them to her, just that she has to wait.
You actually have more rights to the pictures than she does since you were the photographer and automatically have a copyright on the images.
Calling someone an amateur isn't slanderous since, as you pointed out, she is not a professional model.
In addition, the word amateur isn't slanderous on its face.
What I'd suggest you do is go and see a local lawyer and have them write a letter for you.
I have serious doubts as to whether 1) the mother is a judge or if she is 2) she wrote the letter/email to you.
The judge would know it is a violation of the rules of ethics.
This is also the kind of letter you see written by someone that is not a lawyer/judge but pretending to be.
It was so aggressive, I'd not have put it past sheer rage. It was really unnerving. I guess the last thing was does the idea that she paid us, as if she had paid us monetarily, stand as payment? I figured since both of our time was used, that isn't true.
as in, she paid us with her time, being a form of actual payment someone could try and recover?
No, there is a theory of law called "quantum meruit" which means that if someone performs a service they are entitled to be paid for that, but not if there was not some kind of agreement as to payment.
because we used our time, and our equipment, and that just seemed really absurd, and if not, really unfair. in reality, the images, which we had always intended to send would take more time on our hands to process and edit.
My suspicion is that if you have a lawyer respond and point out the ethical violations and other issues that the whole problem goes away.
Thank you so much for your help Dwayne, you really made me and my boyfriend feel a lot better about this. We will visit a lawyer to discuss a letter being sent on our behalf.
You were definitely worth the money :)
I'll let you get back to helping people who need you!
You're very welcome! Keep me informed if you get a chance.
Best wishes to you on this and please don't forget to leave a Positive Rating (of course I’d suggest Excellent!) so I get credit for my work.
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).