Main Menu

The cost of birtherism

Today is the day set by New York judge Arthur Schack where the cost of being a birther may be learned. The case of Christopher-Earl Strunk v New York State Board of Elections and a list of co-defendants that fills a full page was dismissed April 11 and in that order Judge Schack wrote:

Strunk…STRUNK’s instant action is frivolous. … STRUNK [pictured right] alleges baseless claims about defendants which are fanciful, fantastic, delusional and irrational. It is a waste of judicial resources for the Court to spend time on the instant action. Moreover the Court will conduct a hearing to give plaintiff STRUNK a reasonable opportunity to be heard … as to whether or not the Court should award costs and/or impose sanctions upon plaintiff STRUNK for his frivolous conduct. At the hearing, an opportunity will be given to counsel for defendants to present detailed records of costs incurred by their clients in the instant action.

Strunk’s complaint and filings are lengthy to say the least and defense counsel must have at least read them. It’s likely that the same defense counsels are representing multiple defendants, such as the members of the new York State Board of elections, Obama, Biden and Obama for America, the Vatican defendants, the McCain-Palin campaign funds and the members of the Brzezinski family. But the miscellaneous plaintiffs have to be added: Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, George Soros, Roger Calero, the Socialist Workers Party and the New York State Republican Committee AND MORE. That has to amount to quite a bit of money. Multiplied by the number of defendants, legal costs could be staggering.

imageI’m not going to predict what the Court will do, nor will I advocate what it should do. While I believe Strunk to be sincere, his conspiracism does not operate in a vacuum; he causes trouble for innocent bystanders. Actions have consequences, and to date it seems like birthers have had it pretty easy in the consequence department  (with a $20,000 sanction against Orly Taitz the only significant exception1). 

See also my article: “Birthers waste millions in taxpayer dollars.”

Read more:


1Costs were assessed against plaintiff Carol Greenberg amounting to $600, that was paid by someone else. See my article: “Take responsibility for your actions.”

49 Responses to The cost of birtherism

  1. avatar
    realist May 7, 2012 at 10:31 am #

    Don’t know if you’ve seen Strunk’s written response or not, but it’s here for those who wish to read it http://www.scribd.com/doc/92290786/Strunk-Aff-Response-to-4-11-12-Decision-and-OSC-NYSSC-Index-6500-2011

    Much like his other pleadings, it’s a doozie.

  2. avatar
    RuhRoh May 7, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    I think costs were also assessed to Harold Sorensen in Alabama this year, although Obama’s attorney took pity on Sorensen and said he would not try to collect if Sorensen stopped his birhter activities and refrained from writing negatively about the proceedings on the internet.

  3. avatar
    Graham Shevlin May 7, 2012 at 10:55 am #

    A fat lot of good that offer by Obama’s attorney in LA did – Sorensen is now trying to have the Judge investigated. To use an old British expression, Sorensen is taking the piss out of the ruling, and I think that somebody needs to move to reinstate the sanctions against him.

  4. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy May 7, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    Thanks for reminding me. I added a link to this in the article. I had seen it but due to its length, I didn’t read very far.

    realist: Much like his other pleadings, it’s a doozie.

  5. avatar
    sponson May 7, 2012 at 11:40 am #

    Dr. C, there is more North Carolina birther candidate news: It now appears that there is a race in which both of the Republican primary candidates have gone birther.

  6. avatar
    RuhRoh May 7, 2012 at 11:45 am #

    Graham Shevlin: A fat lot of good that offer by Obama’s attorney in LA did – Sorensen is now trying to have the Judge investigated. To use an old British expression, Sorensen is taking the piss out of the ruling, and I think that somebody needs to move to reinstate the sanctions against him.

    So far, I’ve only seen Orly write on her blog thatshe “heard” this was happening. I don’t know that I’d damn Sorensen on something Orly is posting as hearsay.

  7. avatar
    The Magic M May 7, 2012 at 11:55 am #

    realist: Much like his other pleadings, it’s a doozie.

    Maybe this isn’t confined to cranks, probably many pro se litigants have this problem:
    He thinks that he can avoid sanctions by simply restating his entire case.
    And since he’s already lost said case, that’s futile at best and offensive to the court at worst.

    Instead, as I understand it, he should’ve focused simply on why he believed he was bringing his case in good faith. Heck, he could even have thrown Apuzzo under the bus by claiming “I relied on the findings of a lawyer I believed to be a Constitutional law expert” or suchlike.

    Pleadings in a “show cause” hearing for sanctions should better be “I’m sorry, I didn’t know better, but I meant well” and not “I know you didn’t agree with me first time around, but I AM RIGHT G-DAMMIT!!!”.

    The only pitiful thing is that, IMO, Strunk is one of the lesser evils in the birther scene, he is truly deluded, unlike Apuzzo or Van Irion or Corsi or Arpaio. Those people would deserve to suffer the consequences, not the poor fools who too blindly followed them.

  8. avatar
    RuhRoh May 7, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

    Apuzzo posted a lengthy piece over the weekend about why he doesn’t believe Strunk should be sanctioned. Several of the Birther blogs picked it up, and I posted a link to it on the earlier Strunk post here on Doc’s blog. I wonder if Apuzzo was advising Strunk at any point behind the scenes.

  9. avatar
    BillTheCat May 7, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

    Offf topic – Anybody know why Fogbow is down?

  10. avatar
    Thrifty May 7, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    I remember when my own Republican Congressman Mike Castle, when asked at a public meeting somewhere in southern Delaware (I think it was in Rehoboth), told a bunch of Birthers that he thought they were full of it (of course, he put it much more politely). He got heckled and booed for that.

    If only every Republican politician had the courage to tell fringe conspiracy theorists that they were wrong.

    A year later he lost the primary challenge for Joe Biden’s open Senate seat to national punchline Christine O’Donnell. I don’t really think the Birther heckling incident is to blame though. Castle just lost because he was seen as a RINO who *gasp* cooperated with Democrats. One thing I learned in 2010 is that if a Republican cooperates with a Democrat, that Republican is a traitor, but if a Democrat doesn’t cooperate with a Republican, that Democrat is “ramming through legislation”.

    sponson:
    Dr. C, there is more North Carolina birther candidate news: It now appears that there is a race in which both of the Republican primary candidates have gone birther.

  11. avatar
    nbc May 7, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    RuhRoh: I wonder if Apuzzo was advising Strunk at any point behind the scenes.

    Strunk has enough problems on his own, he does not need the ‘help’ from Mario. Mario is upset because another judge denied his ‘arguments’ that NBC requires two citizen parents.

    Mario has no choice and also whines about him being denied Pro Hac Vice status in PA..

    . Judge Schack also granted a motion to admit pro hac vice one of the defendant’s attorney, finding that he was in good standing. It should be known that the Georgia court denied Attorney Van Iron’s motion for pro hac vice admission and the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania denied my motion for pro hac vice admission, even thought we are both in good standing.

    Mario forgets to point out that the court in fact had ruled his complaint frivolous and never retracted that designation. Surely Mario must remember the filing of the motion to deny PHV filed by the defendants?

    Mario’s arguments continue to shredded at John Woodman’s blog. Hilarious…

  12. avatar
    nbc May 7, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    BillTheCat: Offf topic – Anybody know why Fogbow is down?

    Back up

  13. avatar
    realist May 7, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

    BillTheCat:
    Offf topic – Anybody know why Fogbow is down?

    No, but I do know the owner is aware and is working on it.

  14. avatar
    Thrifty May 7, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    The law is a complicated thing. I can’t imagine most people acting as their own attorney would do very well, unless they were themselves trained in the law.

    NPR show This American Life did an entire show about people representing themselves, appropriately titled “pro se”. You can listen to it online here. Act Two is my favorite part. It’s the story about a guy named Jorge Cruz who was in an Albany criminal court on drug charges. He decided to forgo the public defender and act as his own attorney. He ended up winning the case. Host Ira Glass interviews the experienced prosecutor who lost. The prosecutor attributes Cruz’s victory, in part, to Cruz doing things that no lawyer would ever do.

    The Magic M: Maybe this isn’t confined to cranks, probably many pro se litigants have this problem:
    He thinks that he can avoid sanctions by simply restating his entire case.

  15. avatar
    Jim May 7, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    BillTheCat:
    Offf topic – Anybody know why Fogbow is down?

    I posted a comment that was so insightful and amazing that it went down in honor of the post. :D

    PS…also have some swampland you might be interested in. hehehe

  16. avatar
    Roma Lupa May 7, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    I’m of two minds about this. Strunk or “;Strunk” as he styles himself, should be sanctioned but (1) it’s most assuredly not collectible and (2) it would only encourage him.

    I prefer the sanction of such nutbars being deemed vexatious litigants and barred from further abuse of the courts. That’s extreme, and should not be used lightly. They did it to the filth known as Andrew Martin-Trigona.

  17. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy May 7, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    It happens.

    Speaking of down, this web site was down this morning, but is back up.

    http://webofdeception.com/

    I don’t even know how to characterize it.

    BillTheCat: Offf topic – Anybody know why Fogbow is down?

  18. avatar
    BillTheCat May 7, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy: It happens.Speaking of down, this web site was down this morning, but is back up.http://webofdeception.com/I don’t even know how to characterize it.

    ahh, another website using the 1996 school of web design heh

  19. avatar
    Roma Lupa May 7, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    The decisions is here:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/92326856/NY-2012-04-11-Strunk-v-NYBOE-Et-Al-Decision-and-Order

    No monetary fine but he is banned from bringing this again, pretty much as a vexatious litigant.

  20. avatar
    bovril May 7, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

    Roma,

    Not quite, the fun part kicks off in one minute from now when Strunkie has to stand up in court in Brooklyn and explain why he should not have to payy all the costs of the defendants due to his “frivolous conduct”.

    Considering just how many people he pulled into this pile of poo it could end up being a serious chunk of change

  21. avatar
    nbc May 7, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

    Roma Lupa: No monetary fine but he is banned from bringing this again, pretty much as a vexatious litigant.

    That’s the original decision, Strunk is now responding to the order to show cause. Hearing today. Reality Check Radio has a ‘reporter’ on the ground.

  22. avatar
    Majority Will May 7, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

    bovril:
    Roma,

    Not quite, the fun part kicks off in one minute from now when Strunkie has to stand up in court in Brooklyn and explain why he should not have to payy all the costs of the defendants due to his “frivolous conduct”.

    Considering just how many people he pulled into this pile of poo it could end up being a serious chunk of change

    Good. Stupidity has a price. Pay up birther bigots.

  23. avatar
    y_p_w May 7, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

    Thrifty:
    The law is a complicated thing.I can’t imagine most people acting as their own attorney would do very well, unless they were themselves trained in the law.

    There are some things that are pretty easy to do yourself with a little help from legal guidebooks. Nolo Press has a series of very well constructed books. However, even they say that a case could get to the point where one would be best served hiring an attorney.

    I remember seeing the standard list of discovery items for one particular type of action. It occurs to me that an untrained pro se defendant could just check off everything (there are no limits) even if it has nothing to do with the action – just to possibly claim that they weren’t given the information needed to defend themselves. Of course if it got to that, a judge could possibly rule that it was excessive and only designed to inconvenience the plaintiff rather than provide information needed by the defense.

  24. avatar
    clestes May 7, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    It is past time for something like this to start happening. These birthers have clogged up courts and cost already over strained resources. These people have had their try and they have lost, over 120 times. It is now becoming more of a joke than anything else.

    If there was some evidence about the invalidity of the president to hold office it would have come out way before now. Birthers keep changing what they say, making stuff up as they keep losing. First he wasn’t born here, now it he must have 2 citizen parents.

    This BS needs to stop and making them pay for wasting the court’s time is a good way to start.

  25. avatar
    bovril May 7, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    According to early reports from RC Radio, there were a total of 11 yes ELEVEN lawyers in attandance for this one….One assumes the lengthy time being taken is due to the big numbers being added up and justified….. 8-)

  26. avatar
    Rickey May 7, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

    y_p_w: There are some things that are pretty easy to do yourself with a little help from legal guidebooks.Nolo Press has a series of very well constructed books.However, even they say that a case could get to the point where one would be best served hiring an attorney.

    As has been pointed out elsewhere, Strunk even once represented himself in a personal injury lawsuit in Kings County (Brooklyn) Supreme Court. That was sheer insanity. A personal injury attorney would have handled it on a contingent fee basis, and an insurance defense attorney can run rings around pro se plaintiffs. A pro se personal injury plaintiff needs to know how to line up expert medical witnesses, get certified records into court, know the nuances of tort law, etc.

  27. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy May 7, 2012 at 6:47 pm #

    In the grand scheme of things, that’s not a lot of cases, less than one per state per year on average. There is something quintessentially American about a well-meaning but ill-informed crank having his day in court. However, when someone keeps doing it again and again, like Strunk and Taitz, I think some sanctions are appropriate.

    clestes: It is past time for something like this to start happening. These birthers have clogged up courts and cost already over strained resources. These people have had their try and they have lost, over 120 times. It is now becoming more of a joke than anything else.

  28. avatar
    ASK Esq May 7, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

    I was actually next door when this started, but, sadly, I couldn’t stay for the hearing. I met RuhRoh, and I think she sat through it. Any reports?

  29. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy May 7, 2012 at 7:03 pm #

    As best I understand it, they were still at it at 5 PM. To get breaking news, you might look at the Fogbow thread here (you must sign-up to see this content):

    http://www.thefogbow.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=478&p=374438&hilit=strunk#p374438

    the Reality Check Radio article here:

    http://rcradioblog.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/report-from-the-strunk-sanctions-hearing-in-brooklyn-ny

    Or listen to the Reality Check Radio program tomorrow night at 9 PM.

    http://www.blogtalkradio.com/rcr

  30. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy May 7, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

    Wouldn’t that be a “no-no” if Apuzzo weren’t admitted to practice law in New York?

    RuhRoh: I wonder if Apuzzo was advising Strunk at any point behind the scenes.

  31. avatar
    Rickey May 7, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

    ASK Esq:
    I was actually next door when this started, but, sadly, I couldn’t stay for the hearing. I met RuhRoh, and I think she sat through it. Any reports?

    As I understand it, Judge Schack has given the defendants 30 days to submit their costs, so he obviously intends to award them. I don’t know if he also is going to order Strunk to pay attorney fees.

  32. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy May 7, 2012 at 10:59 pm #

    See first-hand account of the hearing:

    http://rcradioblog.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/report-from-the-strunk-sanctions-hearing-in-brooklyn-ny/

    Attorneys have 30 days to submit costs.

  33. avatar
    RuhRoh May 7, 2012 at 11:22 pm #

    Well, I guess it’s no big secret that I was the “Intrepid Observer”!

    It took awhile to get home, walk the doggie and then to type up the report.

    Meeting AskESQ was an unexpected benefit of the trip!

  34. avatar
    charo May 8, 2012 at 1:10 am #

    Strunk is mentally ill. Whether he lost in Vietnam (he self identifies as a Vietnam Vet) or at some other point, who knows. His campaign webpage states in part when he was running for public office that the Vatican is trying to exterminate the entire Black race through abortion. Snippet (http://www.strunk.ws/page15/page15.html):

    “A genocidal disaster is going on here in this community and elsewhere. I contend and have publicly litigated the issue alleging that the black community here has been targeted with genocide by the Vatican Holy See and its’ business component with the Sovereignty Military Order of Malta (SMOM), that conspire with Saudi investors enriched by OPEC gouging, want to gobble up the valuable real estate on which the Black Community here reside.
    I am therefore proclaiming that there is a violation of the Proxmire Act of 1988 with acts of genocide using abortion to target the black community for extinction in a similar way as the SMOM and the Bush and Clinton family have targeted community living arrangements there in Texas, recently alleging, as if a CIA cointelpro operation, that somehow children in a pseudo Mormon Klan have been molested; which this week has been found by a court to be untrue.”

    He needs help.

  35. avatar
    charo May 8, 2012 at 1:11 am #

    should read “lost it in Vietnam”

  36. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy May 8, 2012 at 8:23 am #

    If Strunk subpoenas your IP address in a defamation lawsuit, I’ll give it to him.

    charo: Strunk is mentally ill.

  37. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy May 8, 2012 at 8:28 am #

    It was a very fine report too, very evocative.

    RuhRoh: Well, I guess it’s no big secret that I was the “Intrepid Observer”!

  38. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy May 8, 2012 at 8:37 am #

    The first draft of this story included a quotation of a parable of Jesus, where he points out that someone who builds a tower would do well to figure out the cost ahead of time to see if he has enough money to complete the project, because if he starts and doesn’t finish, people will make fun of him.

    I omitted the story because at least so far, it doesn’t apply to Mr. Strunk. However other birthers whine when they are faced with consequences and say how terribly unfair it is. One wrote:

    It’s never frivolous if you are trying to uphold the constitution.

    I say that when bringing a lawsuit, even one to “uphold the Constitution”, there is still the responsibility to get the facts and know the law first — or else there may be consequences.

  39. avatar
    RuhRoh May 8, 2012 at 9:41 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy: It was a very fine report too, very evocative.

    Thanks! I definitely have a new level of respect for court reporters after attempting to make notes during the hearing. ;)

  40. avatar
    Majority Will May 8, 2012 at 10:27 am #

    “It’s never frivolous if you are trying to uphold the constitution.”

    Wrapping yourself in the American flag is not a universal standard of righteousness.

    The U.S. Constitution is not a sacred document.

    Respecting its intent also means understanding it can and will be amended.

  41. avatar
    Thomas Brown May 8, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    Majority Will:
    “It’s never frivolous if you are trying to uphold the constitution.”

    Wrapping yourself in the American flag is not a universal standard of righteousness.

    The U.S. Constitution is not a sacred document.

    Respecting its intent also means understanding it can and will be amended.

    Right. Idea #34,781 that Birfoons never recognize: the Founders built the Constitution to be amendable.

  42. avatar
    Rickey May 8, 2012 at 11:01 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    If Strunk subpoenas your IP address in a defamation lawsuit, I’ll give it to him.

    I don’t believe that Charo has anything to worry about. Strunk is a public figure (he has run for public office at least once) so it isn’t defamation unless Charo knows or should have known that what she says about him isn’t true.

  43. avatar
    Rickey May 8, 2012 at 11:13 am #

    charo:
    he self identifies as a Vietnam Vet

    Actually, Strunk self-identifies as a Vietnam-era Vet. That designation indicates that he was in the service during the Vietnam War but he never served in a combat zone.

    It isn’t necessary to have actually served in-country, but the general rule is that you have to have received the Vietnam Service Medal to be considered a Vietnam Vet. That includes sailors who served on ships in the South China Sea contiguous to Vietnam.

  44. avatar
    Rickey May 8, 2012 at 11:17 am #

    RuhRoh:
    Well, I guess it’s no big secret that I was the “Intrepid Observer”!

    It took awhile to get home,walk the doggie and then to type up the report.

    Meeting AskESQ was an unexpected benefit of the trip!

    Excellent report! It sound like Strunk put on quite a show. I am also impressed with the restraint shown by Judge Schack.

  45. avatar
    Reality Check May 8, 2012 at 11:22 am #

    I cleaned up the article a bit and added a link to the Decision and Order by Judge Schack.

    The same link still works. http://rcradioblog.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/report-from-the-strunk-sanctions-hearing-in-brooklyn-ny

    A big tip of the RC Radio cap to “Intrepid Reporter” for taking the time to attend. From the description this could have been one of the more entertaining Birther events except for the maybe the near riot at Orly’s NH ballot challenge hearing.

  46. avatar
    RuhRoh May 9, 2012 at 11:35 am #

    Several folks asked whether the amount of fees in this case was mentioned at the hearing. It was not. However, Mario Apuzzo is reporting on his blog that the fees for representing the Brzezinski defendants total $80,000 to date.

    Their attorney did bring a statement of fees to the hearing and said he had served it on Strunk, so I assume Strunk must have shared the information with Apuzzo.

  47. avatar
    Sef May 10, 2012 at 11:44 am #

    Saw a newism on TFB: “Money can’t buy her the luv and attention of teh Peeples.
    But she will need some if she ever gets strunked.” — MrBrown

    Suggested definition: strunked: to have your pockets emptied as a result of a frivolous court case.

  48. avatar
    RuhRoh May 18, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

    I’m too lazy to find the post regarding the “Cost of Birther Suits”, but Chris Strunk is now reporting at ORYR that he is facing a half million on fees as sanctions.

    Considering that only a few of the attorneys at the show cause hearing 5/7 brought or even indicated they would bring a statement of fees, a half million is a very low estimate.

  49. avatar
    Majority Will May 18, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

    RuhRoh:
    I’m too lazy to find the postregarding the “Cost of Birther Suits”, but Chris Strunk is now reporting at ORYR that he is facing a half million on fees as sanctions.

    Considering that only a few of the attorneys at the show cause hearing 5/7 brought or even indicated they would bring a statement of fees, a half million is a very low estimate.

    Good. The higher, the better.