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:
- Taking jokes too seriously
- WorldNetDaily sues Esquire for zillions over satire
- WND lawsuit garners media attention
- Will WND lawsuit be “slapped” down?
- The Empire SLAPPS Back
- “Update” on Farah v. Esquire Magazine
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.”