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Farah slapped down

Can you believe that there are people in the world who would file a meritless lawsuit out of pure spite? It’s true! Joseph Farah sued Esquire Magazine for libel over a satirical1 article that made fun of Jerome Corsi’s book, Where’s the Birth Certificate? after it’s title became silly following a preemptive release of Barack Obama’s long-form birth certificate by the White House. You can read my coverage of the $250 Million lawsuit by Farah in these articles:

As I suggested, Esquire Magazine could try a new District of Columbia law designed to prevent people from being victimized by public figures who file lawsuits that can generate large legal fees and drag on for years.

A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.

Wikipedia

I told you so!

Esquire Magazine filed such a defense under the DC anti-SLAPP statute and won in a decision yesterday by DC District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer. There was never a doubt in my mind that the suit deserved to be SLAPPed down, but there was some question as to whether the statute could be used in DC District Court (a federal court hearing a case in diversity). There always remains the possibility that an appeals court will overturn the decision over this question, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Judge decided that Farah can’t make his case, and will inevitably lose. One major flaw in the Farah case is that Farah himself called the article satire, before he called it not satire. Oops!

In a SLAPP case, the plaintiff’s have to make a reasonable showing that they have a chance to win at trial before the more expensive process of discovery begins. If the lawsuit is found to be a SLAPP the plaintiff has to pay the defendant’s legal fees.

Judge Collyer was clearly not the elusive birther-friendly judge that they needed. She begin the recitation of the facts in the case by saying:

President Obama was born August 4, 1961, in Honolulu Hawaii.

Ouch!

The Judge also made one other comment that I take to heart:

Those who speak with loud voices cannot be surprised if they become part of the story.

Farah’s attorney, Larry Klayman responded:

The court’s decision is significantly flawed and intellectually dishonest.

and

The decision was so poorly reasoned it rises to a level of negligence, if not a desire to dump the case because it is not palatable to the Washington establishment.

“Piffle,” as my Mom used to say. Klayman says they will appeal. I’m happy as a clam.

Here’s the Judge’s opinion:

FARAH, et al. v ESQUIRE – Memorandum Opinion Dismissing Case


1The Supreme Court in Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc. 510 U.S. 569, 581 n.15 (1994) defined “satire” as:

a work ‘In which prevalent follies and vices are assailed with ridicule,” or are “attacked through irony, derision or wit.”

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22 Responses to Farah slapped down

  1. avatar
    bovril June 5, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

    This specific ruling is just chock full of goodies, the regular gentle insertion of the stilletto between the shoulderblades of Porntache Joey and The Toad scattered througout is delicious… 😎

  2. avatar
    Andrew Vrba June 5, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

    Ironically, WND claims to be a strong supporter of the first amendment.

  3. avatar
    BillTheCat June 5, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    Poor Pornstache.

  4. avatar
    JPotter June 5, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    I was impressed with the opinion. It covers the legal issues thoroughly, but also presents a very-detailed chronological account of the event itself and the lead up to it, including many points I wasn’t familiar with. WND looked dumb enough based on only a passing knowledge of the goings on … this detailed dissection burns them down to the sub-basement!

    The image of officers of a court researching this ruling is priceless. The sighing, the tittering, the eye-rolling. And the final product is remakably ‘straight’, nearly deadpan, making it all the more devastating!

  5. avatar
    Xyxox June 5, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

    Reading through the decision has begune a restoration of my faith in the justice system. Whoda thunk it?

  6. avatar
    Rickey June 5, 2012 at 3:04 pm #

    And Judge Collyer was appointed to the Federal Court by George W. Bush.

    Klayman is moving dangerously close to Orly territory with his insulting criticism of the ruling.

  7. avatar
    Andrew Vrba June 5, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    Lets hope that they don’t know when to quit, and Farah actually lands himself in real hot water.

  8. avatar
    BillTheCat June 5, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    Rickey: And Judge Collyer was appointed to the Federal Court by George W. Bush. Klayman is moving dangerously close to Orly territory with his insulting criticism of the ruling.

    Link to said insulting criticism? Love to see.

  9. avatar
    justlw June 5, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

    The controversy surrounding President Obama’s birth gave rise to the so-called “Birther Movement,” a loose knit group of people

    …or, a group of loose knit people.

  10. avatar
    misha June 6, 2012 at 1:56 am #

    “I’m happy as a clam.”

    Just how happy are clams? – George Carlin

  11. avatar
    The Magic M June 6, 2012 at 4:16 am #

    Andrew Vrba: Ironically, WND claims to be a strong supporter of the first amendment.

    Even more ironically, WND commentors are claiming anti-SLAPP is “unconstitutional”.
    Oh, and that it was made “by and for Democrats”. They seem to ignore that e.g. AZ and GA are not blue states…

    So there is a general crank pattern of “everything that disagrees with me is unconstitutional”, in other words “my word is divine law, and if the Constitution says otherwise, to hell with it”.

  12. avatar
    JPotter June 6, 2012 at 8:46 am #

    The Magic M: So there is a general crank pattern of “everything that disagrees with me is unconstitutional”, in other words “my word is divine law, and if the Constitution says otherwise, to hell with it”.

    Mental amendments. Ratified on the fly.

  13. avatar
    richCares June 6, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    in other news WND pushes creationist nonsense
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2012/06/05/wnd-pushes-creationist-nonsense/

  14. avatar
    Sef June 6, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

    richCares:
    in other news WND pushes creationist nonsense
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2012/06/05/wnd-pushes-creationist-nonsense/

    That was fun.

  15. avatar
    Rickey June 6, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    BillTheCat: Link to said insulting criticism? Love to see.

    “The court’s decision is significantly flawed and intellectually dishonest,” said WND’s attorney in the case, Larry Klayman. Klayman, founder of the D.C. watchdog group Judicial Watch, plans to appeal the ruling. Judge Rosemary M. Collyer of the U.S. District Court in D.C. granted Esquire’s motion to dismiss based on D.C.’s anti-SLAPP law, which is designed to protect media and public figures from frivolous lawsuits.

    Klayman, noting that the decision had been pending for nearly a year, said Collyer ignored three requests for a status conference. It was only after his team’s May 7 letter to the court’s chief judge, Royce Lamberth, he said, that Collyer “apparently commenced in haste to reach this decision, which was poorly reasoned as a matter of fact and law.”

    “The decision was so poorly reasoned it rises to a level of negligence, if not a desire to dump the case because it is not palatable to the Washington establishment,” Klayman said.

    http://conwebwatch.tripod.com/blog/index.blog?entry_id=2270908

  16. avatar
    G June 6, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

    *face palm*

    Wow…just…wow… For all the stupid Creationist fantasies out there, this crazy asteroid/flood tale has to be one of the wackiest and most idiotic yet…

    richCares: in other news WND pushes creationist nonsensehttp://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2012/06/05/wnd-pushes-creationist-nonsense/

  17. avatar
    JPotter June 6, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

    richCares: in other news WND pushes creationist nonsensehttp://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2012/06/05/wnd-pushes-creationist-nonsense/

    Wow, earlier today, I passed that one over, thinking, “Well, duh, what else is new?” I just gave it a chance.

    Glad I did! LOLz! The earth had a watery big bang, eh (all at once, or Roman candle style barrage?)? Just a couple millenia ago? Place sure cleaned up nice. Must have been one well-engineered ark.

    There’s a “freethought” state conference coming up in Tulsa on 6/23. I need all the silly I can get. Hopefully there will be some protesters, some excitement. Hey, maybe a proletarian revolt will break out. Here’s hoping. nah, reality is pretty non-confrontational.

  18. avatar
    G June 6, 2012 at 9:29 pm #

    And to happen upon reading such poorly thought out pseduo-science dreck on a day when we’ve lost one of the actual giants in the realm of good sci-fi: Ray Bradbury.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-18345350

    *sigh*. Oh well, at least I can take comfort in that REAL scientists are still happily doing REAL science and were nice enough to share an interesting mineral composition animation of a REAL asteroid today:

    http://content.usatoday.com/communities/sciencefair/post/2012/06/vesta-minerals-shine-in-nasa-animation/1

    JPotter: Glad I did! LOLz! The earth had a watery big bang, eh (all at once, or Roman candle style barrage?)? Just a couple millenia ago? Place sure cleaned up nice. Must have been one well-engineered ark.

  19. avatar
    J. Edward Tremlett June 6, 2012 at 11:02 pm #

    Ah, the smell of happiness 🙂

  20. avatar
    JD Reed June 7, 2012 at 12:34 am #

    Andrew Vrba: Ironically, WND claims to be a strong supporter of the first amendment.

    Even more ironically, WND commentors are claiming anti-SLAPP is “unconstitutional”.
    Oh, and that it was made “by and for Democrats”. They seem to ignore that e.g. AZ and GA are not blue states…
    Not to mention Texas, where an anti-SLAPP law passed UNANIMOUSLY in both chambers last year — both controlled about 2-1by the GOP — , and was signed into law by that notorious liberal, Gov. Rick Perry

  21. avatar
    JPotter June 12, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

    WND alleges they have appealed the Esquire case (surprise.).

    http://www.wnd.com/2012/06/wnd-takes-new-action-against-esquire/

    “We’re confident that it will be reversed very quickly,” said attorney Larry Klayman…

    Article states the decision was biased and intellectually dishonest, and that Judge Collyer made a “material error” by noticing that Obama was born in Hawaii. Obama’s birthplace (keepastraightface) is not at issue in this case.

  22. avatar
    James M June 12, 2012 at 8:55 pm #

    JPotter:
    WND alleges they have appealed the Esquire case (surprise.).

    http://www.wnd.com/2012/06/wnd-takes-new-action-against-esquire/

    Article states the decision was biased and intellectually dishonest, and that Judge Collyer made a “material error” by noticing that Obama was born in Hawaii. Obama’s birthplace (keepastraightface) is not at issue in this case.

    How does “intellectual dishonesty” differ from ordinary dishonesty?