The downfall of #ExxonKnew

It was a hashtag prosecution, a social media campaign posing as a legal case: #ExxonKnew. And like yesterday’s media balloon become today’s litter, its deflated remains floated back down to earth last week in a New York courtroom.

National Review asked me to write a longer piece on last week’s Exxon acquittal (earlier, and previously):

In a 2003 case called Nike v. Kasky, no less a liberal authority than Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer warned that it was dangerous to freedom of speech to arm ideological adversaries with legal power to bring fraud charges against businesses based on those businesses’ public statements about contentious issues….

In his full, scathing opinion, Judge Ostrager rejected each of the state’s themes. “ExxonMobil’s public disclosures were not misleading.”…

New York’s prosecution of Exxon — a legal vendetta against a target chosen for essentially political reasons — deserves to be studied in law schools for years to come. But not for the reasons its authors once hoped.

Whole thing here.


  • Indeed, it should be studied, because it demonstrates that political prosecutions can proceed with no negative consequences for the State and/or prosecutors. And since “nobody” is paying for the prosecution besides the victim, why not take a shotgun approach? You’re bound to find a friendly Judge eventually.

    There was a time when a bench-slap like this would be considered a deterrence, but can anybody claim that the prosecutorial team cares at all? I suspect that they walked away muttering, “Stupid Judge. We’ll get them next time.”

  • Hmmm. A “legal vendetta”? So where is the pulling of tickets? Where are the professional consequences? Where are the sanctions?

    Another Pyrrhic victory for the First Amendment. The lawyers who did this will move on to the next victim confident that the message has been sent.

    • Exactly! This kind of legal assault w/o consequences will just mean it will happen again. If the government lawyers were held personally responsible for even a portion of what Exxon spent in defending this, it would at least cause the next prosecutor the think about it before rushing forward with this trash.

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