The editorial board of the Times Picayune has added their two cents to the topic that has consumed my blogging time this week in Theriot’s SLAPP suit against the Blogosphere that is well worth the read. Here is a small excerpt:
Most people, though, wouldn’t expect a government to seek information about suspected misconduct by suing its critics for defamation. Yet that’s how Jefferson Parish interim President Steve Theriot is defending a lawsuit seeking the identity of anonymous online critics of his administration.
This suit is a public relations disaster and likely a waste of taxpayers’ money.
Public relations disaster indeed as the master of disaster in the executive suite and his minion at the Yenni Building swung from this:
The disputes between the parties to this action were previously settled and dismissed by an order dated April 7, 2009. Following a reversal of the contempt findings against non-parties Richard F. Scruggs and the Scruggs Law Firm, P.A. by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, Appeal Number 08-14716-DD, the remaining disputes have been settled between E. A. Renfroe & Company, Inc., and the above-referenced non-parties. Therefore, by and through their respective counsel of record, the undersigned do hereby jointly stipulate to the dismissal of all remaining issues and claims between them in this matter, with prejudice, each party to bear its own respective costs.
The judges name is Jed S. Rakoff, and he “sits” in the US District Court of Manhattan. He’s a man I could address as “Your Honor,” and sincerely mean it. He isn’t shy about stating that the public must be able to “see” what our court system is doing if they are to have any confidence in it at all. He’s adopted strict rules limiting what sort of materials may be kept confidential in cases before him. He calls this “transparency,” but what he’s really saying is this . . . every time a court does something under the table, (like sealing State Farm’s documents without any basis whatsoever), it demeans the justice system and destroys people’s belief in their government.
We all know how corporate defendants constantly game the system with their pseudo “trade secret” claims. Good God, think of the horror stories posted on this blog alone. Sadly, these shameless lies presented in signed court papers governed by Rule 11 honestly standards are rarely subjected to the mandatory test for excluding discoverable information: (1) the movant has the burden of proving everything they withheld is a bona fide trade secret; and (2) a record finding must be made, based on facts and/or testimony, and the controlling law in discovery cases; and (3) all of this must be preserved in a public court record, susceptible to appellate review.
Contrast Judge Rakoff’s “transparency” with what happened in Birmingham, corporate rat’s nest of the South. Not only were documents concealed, hell, the entire case against Cori and Keri Rigsby was ginned up to keep evidence of federal flood program fraud a secret, and at the same time persecute and defame the Rigsbys and Dick Scruggs as document thieves. Imagine that. What would people like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Benjamin Cardozo do if they were alive to witness an Article III Tribunal, a United States Federal Court involved in this sordid and illegal mess? Imposing personal jurisdiction over persons not even within the court’s constitutional power . . . for the purpose of concealing a multi billion dollar fraud upon the US Treasury? Continue reading “Here’s a judge who took an oath of office, and lives up to it. An anonymous guest post.”
Now, whatever I said, and I can’t remember the quote, that triggered or generated the request by Renfroe to hold both Scruggs and the Rigsbys in civil contempt in the form of sanctions, monetary sanctions. Quite frankly, when I put that down, I wasn’t thinking about Scruggs. I was thinking about the Rigsbys.
I’m not saying that they misread me or that they were wrong in seeing that opportunity or the possibility in what I said to seek civil sanctions against Scruggs also. And they did. And that’s why we’re here..
Then, it’s Keker, representing Scruggs:
The only way you get jurisdiction over non-parties is if they aid and abet a contempt. And here there wasn’t any contempt to aid and abet you so found. Therefore, no jurisdiction; send us home. The 11th said not yet; let the district court decide this.
The next thing is that you suggest to them that they take another look at whether or not the Rigsbys are in contempt. What we think is that that’s a very shrewd, tactical move by an excellent first class prosecutor to shore up the jurisdiction in his case. And by prosecutors, I’m referring to you. Continue reading “Fool me once, shame on you!”