As a judge considers whether to impose sanctions on attorney Clifford Shoemaker for hitting investigative blogger Kathleen Seidel with an intimidating subpoena, one of Shoemaker’s attorneys asks the court for more time “to gather the material I would need to show the Court the justification for the Subpoena and its scope,” which prompts Eric Turkewitz to wonder (May 6): “Why is it necessary to look for justification for the subpoena after it was issued?” And: “Other than talking to Shoemaker, who must have already had justification before the subpoena was issued, why would it be necessary to interview any other witness? It’s only Shoemaker’s rationale that matters to the sanctions motion.”
In another indication that heavy-handed pursuit of a blogger might not have worked out very well as a legal strategy, Shoemaker’s own clients, the Sykes family, have now voluntarily dropped their vaccine-autism suit against Bayer, which was the basis for the subpoena (Seidel, Orac).
Perhaps-ominous sequel: Seidel points out in a new post that Shoemaker’s legal papers accuse her of arguably tortious conduct in her comments on autism litigation, including interfering with “witnesses’ professions, professional relationships, and economic opportunities”, and that the witnesses in question in the Sykes suit, Dr. Mark Geier and David Geier, have previously pursued long and costly litigation against four scientists and the American Academy of Pediatrics over an article in Pediatrics which disputed the Geiers’ findings. The suit — which was eventually dismissed without prejudice as to the scientists, and dismissed with prejudice as to AAP — contended that damages were owing because the article in question had cut into the Geiers’ potential income as expert witnesses.