Despite the verdict, Topix continued bubbling with nasty comments. Mark and Rhonda continued to live their lives, and Mark continued his lawyering. Eventually they tired of the local gossip and moved a bit further away. But they never stopped fighting. In fact, it sounds like they stepped up their game a notch.
From Mount Pleasant, they have waged holy war on those they feel have wronged them back in Red River County. They pursued perjury charges against Shannon. They filed a malicious prosecution suit against Shannon, Jerry and Varley. They gathered 190 signatures on a petition to remove Varley from office. (Some in the county blame Varley for the $250,000 he spent unsuccessfully prosecuting the Leshers.)
I’m pretty sure this is as close as you can get to a literal definition of having “a fire in the belly.” They won a $13.8 million jury verdict (which we covered) from Jerry and Shannon Coyel. It was the largest cyber defamation award in U.S. history. But, strangely, in June, a Tarrant County district judge tossed the verdict with no explanation other than that there was apparently no evidence tying the Coyels to the posts.
And now Mark Lesher is just a few stops short of going full Liam Neeson on the officials who he says did him wrong:
Mark says people have asked him why he continues to obsess over the ordeal, why he’d spend more money on lawyers long after he and his wife have been cleared. “I’m not going to let it drop, because we didn’t have a damn thing to do with it,” he says. His cause now is vengeance, and this is his best shot at making them pay. Rhonda blames Varley most of all. “He is vicious. He’s evil,” she says. “We’re not the only people he’s ruined. We’re just the most prominent.”
The Leshers are planning their appeal of the most recent defamation decision. Mark is still representing underdogs in the area and ruffling feathers. In his own words, he is not going anywhere:
“And I mean, everybody’s pissed.… [The] judge is pissed, all the cops are pissed. ‘Here comes that f**kin’ Lesher again.’”
Now that’s what I call a Texan.
Red River Justice [Texas Observer]