- Elena Kagan’s changing views of Senate confirmation process: “Lobster in Pot Re-Evaluates Pro-Boiling Stance” [Spruiell, NR “Corner”]
- “Federal Courts React to Tide of Pro Se Litigants” [NLJ]
- We get permalinks in nice places including a prominent Dutch business paper [NRC Handelsblad]
- Someone who needs research done should snap up Kathleen Seidel, model practitioner of citizen journalism on autism-vaccine fray [Neurodiversity] When she got a call from a charity telemarketer recently, she began checking them out online. Results? Devastating. [Neurodiversity, Popehat]
- How far does Britain’s new animal welfare law go? Does it really cover little Nicholas’s pet cricket? [Never Yet Melted]
- Constitutionalizing judicial ethics: Caperton v. Massey case before Supreme Court is a bit more complicated than you’d think from the NYT editorial [Point of Law]
- If you’re not in favor of government cracking down on what is said in online forums, are you “trivializing women’s harms”? [Danielle Citron/ConcurOp, Scott Greenfield] On the other hand, it doesn’t take a commitment to feminism to note that there are online bullies and they’re a nasty, overwhelmingly male lot [Popehat, language]
- Attorney walks away from a whole bunch of cases after accusation he bribed a Royal Caribbean Cruise Line employee, and his troubles may not be over yet [Florida Daily Business Review]
Sam Bayard at Citizen Media Law: “In perhaps the most blatant misuse of the subpoena power we’ve seen since the subpoena served on Kathleen Seidel of Neurodiversity last March, a lawyer for Thomas Garrett of Virginia has served a patently overbroad subpoena on blogger Waldo Jaquith, who publishes cvillenews.com, a community news blog about Charlottesville, Virginia.” Garrett is suing The Hook, a Charlottesville newspaper and associated website, for defamation, and Jaquith at his own publication covered that controversy in a blog post. Now, as part of his suit against The Hook, Garrett is demanding from Jaquith information to assist in identifying the many persons who commented on the post and even persons who merely viewed it.
Attorney Eric Albritton has been suing Rick Frenkel and his former employer, Cisco, over allegedly defamatory content on Frenkel’s much-missed Patent Troll Tracker blog. Now Albritton has also aimed broad legal demands at a second IP-law blogger, Dennis Crouch of the well-known Patently-O, demanding not only the unveiling of anonymous commenters at that blog but even the handing over of private notes that readers have written to Crouch. (Patently-O, Aug. 24 via Elefant).
Our source describes it as “quite a slapdown” by the judge, good news for bloggers who may have been feeling chilled by the now-celebrated subpoena aimed by Virginia vaccine attorney Clifford Shoemaker at investigative blogger Kathleen Seidel, who had criticized him. (Neurodiversity, Jun. 23; ruling in PDF at Public Citizen, which defended Seidel; Orac, Citizen Media Law Project, Bug Girl).
Not directly related, but also of note from Kathleen Seidel’s blog: you’re not going to believe what some attorneys consider a source of credible evidence when pressing claims in the government’s Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (Jun. 13).
P.S. Comments take issue with its being “quite a slapdown”, and suggest that it was more like a slap on the wrist.
- Christiansburg, Va. land developer Roger Woody sues local bloggers and two other critics for more than $10 million for speaking ill of big dirt pile on one of his properties [Roanoke Times, editorial; more on Woody’s dealings]
- Lots of developments on free speech in Canada: trial begins in Vancouver in complaint against Mark Steyn and Maclean’s over book excerpt critical of Islam [his site]; after defending speech-restricting network of human rights tribunals, Conservative government in Ottawa now says it will take another look [Ezra Levant, with much other coverage including favorable nods from Toronto literati]; Alberta tribunal orders conservative pastor to “cease publishing in newspapers, by email, on the radio, in public speeches, or on the Internet, in future, disparaging remarks about gays and homosexuals.” [Levant; Calgary Herald; Gilles Marchildon, Egale.ca] (more, Eugene Volokh)
- Brief filed for Kathleen Seidel in her resistance of abusive subpoena, with assistance of Public Citizen [her site, theirs, and our comment section]; Seidel is among autism bloggers profiled in NY mag [w/pic]; profile of thriving Boston “vaccine injury” law firm” Conway Homer & Chin-Caplan [NLJ; Seidel’s critical comments on that firm]
- Views critical of religion unlawful unless expressed in respectful and non-scoffing way? Lots of precedent for that approach, unfortunately [Volokh on Comstock]
- Score one for fair use: judge denies Yoko Ono preliminary injunction against creationist film’s use of 15 seconds of John Lennon’s “Imagine” in context implicitly criticizing song’s point of view [Hollywood Reporter, WSJ law blog, Timothy Lee/Ars Technica]
Attorney Clifford Shoemaker has now filed a memorandum in support of his harassing subpoena of blogger Kathleen Seidel. The memorandum, signed by attorneys John F. McHugh and Brian T. Stern, is every bit as absurd and internally-self-refuting as one might have dared hope. Seidel skillfully marks it up with links on key phrases, some providing substantive background on the controversy, other ironically commenting on the apparent belief of Shoemaker & Co. that a court will agree to construe as “a series of intentional torts” a blogger’s investigative journalism based on publicly available sources. Earlier posts here. More: Orac.
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.
- “Dog owners in Switzerland will have to pass a test to prove they can control and care for their animal, or risk losing it, the Swiss government said yesterday.” [Daily Telegraph]
- 72-year-old mom visits daughter’s Southport, Ct. home, falls down stairs searching for bathroom at night, sues daughter for lack of night light, law firm boasts of her $2.475 million win on its website [Casper & deToledo, scroll to “Jeremy C. Virgil”]
- Can’t possibly be right: “Every American enjoys a constitutional right to sue any other American in a West Virginia court” [W.V. Record]
- Video contest for best spoof personal injury attorney ads [Sick of Lawsuits; YouTube]
- Good profile of Kathleen Seidel, courageous blogger nemesis of autism/vaccine litigation [Concord Monitor*, Orac]. Plus: all three White House hopefuls now pander to anti-vaxers, Dems having matched McCain [Orac]
- One dollar for every defamed Chinese person amounts to a mighty big lawsuit demand against CNN anchor Jack Cafferty [NYDN link now dead; Independent (U.K.)]
- Hapless Ben Stein whipped up one side of the street [Salmon on financial regulation] and down the other [Derbyshire on creationism]
- If only Weimar Germany had Canada-style hate-speech laws to prevent the rise of — wait, you mean they did? [Steyn/Maclean’s] Plus: unlawful in Alberta to expose a person to contempt based on his “source of income” [Levant quoting sec. 3 (1)(b) of Human Rights Law]
- Hey, these coupon settlements are giving all of us class action lawyers a bad name [Leviant/The Complex Litigator]
- Because patent law is bad enough all by itself? D.C. Circuit tosses out FTC’s antitrust ruling against Rambus [GrokLaw; earlier]
- “The fell attorney prowls for prey” — who wrote that line, and about which city? [four years ago on Overlawyered]
*Okay, one flaw in the profile: If Prof. Irving Gottesman compares Seidel to Erin Brockovich he probably doesn’t know much about Brockovich.
[Bumped on breaking news: A federal court in New Hampshire has quashed the subpoena and ordered attorney Clifford Shoemaker to show cause why he should not be subjected to sanctions. Also: Orac. Earlier Monday post follows:]
Autism blogger Kathleen Seidel reports that the online free speech project at Public Citizen has agreed to provide her with legal assistance in responding to vaccine lawyer Clifford Shoemaker’s subpoena (see earlier coverage here, here, and here). One way to read this is as a fairly devastating commentary on just how weak Shoemaker’s position is, since there is ordinarily no more potent public presence on behalf of the plaintiff’s side in pharmaceutical litigation than Public Citizen. Seidel also has discovered that as a Shoemaker target she is in distinguished company:
I learned that on March 26, 2008 — the same afternoon that I was greeted at my doorstep with a demand for access to virtually the entire documentary record of my intellectual and financial life over the past four years — Dr. Marie McCormick, Sumner and Esther Feldberg Professor of Maternal and Child Health at the Harvard School of Public Health, and Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, was subjected to a similar experience at her Massachusetts home.
From 2001 to 2004, Dr. McCormick chaired the Immunization Safety Review Committee of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), charged with analyzing and reporting on data regarding the safety of vaccination practices. …As a result of her voluntary work on the committee, Dr. McCormick has found herself a frequent target of suspicion by plaintiffs, their attorneys and advocates, and opponents of vaccines, who disagree with its conclusions, and whose legal and political positions are not supported by its reports.
After much discussion in the blogosphere this story would seem more than ready to cross over into mainstream-press coverage; here’s a local columnist who says he left three messages with attorney Clifford Shoemaker but got no response (Dave Brooks, “What a Web of actional links we can weave”, Nashua Telegraph, Apr. 9)(via Liz Ditz/I Speak of Dreams’ ongoing list monitoring coverage).
Update 5:30 p.m.: Here’s James Taranto at WSJ Best of the Web, giving just the shove the story may need:
It might behoove the ACLU, or some organization devoted to civil liberties, to devote some resources to figuring out how to defend speech that is inconvenient to plaintiffs lawyers.