Over the past year journalist Stephanie Mencimer, a frequent contributor to such publications as Mother Jones and the Washington Monthly, has written a series of articles intended to rebut what she calls “The Myth of the Frivolous Lawsuit”. In the course of these articles, Mencimer assails a wide range of writers, publications and institutions that have taken a visible public role criticizing excessive litigation, myself and this site included. Her research often seems to consist of little but the uncritical recycling of allegations circulated by the Litigation Lobby, some of them fifteen or twenty years old and many of them both baldly inaccurate and nastily ad hominem in tone.
I don’t make it a practice to respond to Mencimer’s writings, but the distinguished legal journalist Stuart Taylor, Jr., who writes an influential column for National Journal and contributes to Newsweek, was outraged by her attacks on his work in an article she wrote for the October Washington Monthly and took the time to craft a lengthy, devastating point-by-point rebuttal. He sent it on December 16 to the editors of the Washington Monthly including editor-in-chief Paul Glastris.
Remarkably, in the month since then, the Washington Monthly editors have neither posted the letter for their readers’ benefit nor made any attempt to rebut it. Now Taylor has generously consented to let me post his letter here. Readers can draw their own conclusions about how much of Mencimer’s credibility is left standing after his thorough dissection — and about what it means for the Washington Monthly’s reputation that it seems intent on stonewalling on her behalf. Update Feb. 16: Washington Monthly and Mencimer reply.