Popehat

37

Incessant Sewer-Dweller LegalMatch Has A Cunning Plan To Get My Business

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Late yesterday I saw a new email in my inbox. The subject line caught my eye:

Son under indictment

A new case? One never knows. I opened it.

I found not a new client, but an old friend: one Steve Kramer of LegalMatch, a "service" that purports to help match clients to lawyers. I've written before about emails from Steve Kramer and LegalMatch in unflattering terms. For reasons I cannot recall I previously did not name them; I referred to them with thematic accuracy as Feculent Q. Pus-Crust of the Society for Cornholing Unsuspecting Children. I'm naming them now.

Feculent — pardon me, Steve — has continued to spam me even after threatening me with litigation for criticizing him and even after I reminded him that he was spamming someone he had previously threatened.

Here are some of the email subject lines Steve Kramer has sent over the last two years:

Son under indictment (3/11/15)

My son has been charged with statutory rape (11/25/14)

intent to distribute (11/13/12)

felony arrest (1/4/12)

No, Steve Kramer's son is not — so far as I know — a one-man crime wave. Rather, Steve Kramer and LegalMatch use deceitful clickbait email subjects to get lawyers to look at their spam. As his latest says:

Ken

Let me know whether the following snap shot of some of our recent financially capable LA area criminal defense clients looks like a fit.

Cordially,

Steve Kramer
For Legal Match
310-990-3026

It's nice that Steve Kramer is so forgiving that he's still first-naming me after I've sassed him and written mean posts about him.

Emails from Steve-O and Legal Match contain a sort of list of client inquiries that consumers have apparently left on LegalMatch.

EX FELON WITH POSSESSION OF FIREARM
BELL, CA 02/16/2015 C154733487378

FREE MY SON
AUGUST F. HAW, CA 02/16/2015 ✔ C154721465270

VIOLATION OF PROVATION
SAN FERNANDO, CA 02/15/2015 ✔ C154646769498

LEAVING THE SCENE OF A ACCIDENT
LYNWOOD, CA 02/15/2015 ✔ C154643116086

2SUSPECTS TRAFFICKING 48LBS OF DRUGS
LOS ANGELES, CA 02/14/2015 ✔ C154536359337

Steve and LegalMatch represent in their solicitation that somehow they have determined that these people are "financially capable" — meaning, I guess, that they can afford to hire a lawyer. In any litigation I look forward to discovering what methodology they used to evaluate the assets of the "violation of provation" guy. They also represent that these are "criminal defense clients." Yet the emailed lists includes entries like this:

FREON EXPOSURE WORKING AT GENERAL DYNAMICS 80'S.
WALNUT, CA 02/09/2015 C154071310246

Perhaps this person has been criminally charged with exposing himself or herself to freon at General Dynamics in the 1980s. I presume they will explore a statute of limitations defense.

LegalMatch views its system — where people describe their cases, to be reviewed by potential lawyers — as a service to the lawyer-seeking community. Whether it is also a boon to the law enforcement community remains to be seen. It encourages customers to leave entries like this one in the most recent solicitation email:

ACCUSED OF MURDER OCCURRED IN SELF-DEFENSE ROLLING HILLS ESTATES, CA 02/10/2015 ✔ C154102776952

Who read that? Well, apparently, any LegalMatch lawyer with access to that client database, and any prospective LegalMatch lawyer to whom Steve Kramer sent the email. All of those people now know that there is a person accused of murder in or near Rolling Hills Estates, California, in February of 2015, who says they did kill the person but did so in self-defense. Did they get legal advice before making that disclosure? Did they think that the disclosure would be kept confidential? Did they know it would be sent out in spam emails? Would a court treat such an entry as privileged, despite how recklessly it is being bandied about? Is LegalMatch certain that it didn't sent this information to anyone with connections to the victim, or the victim's family's lawyers, or the prosecutors, or the investigating officers, or the media? Do you think that — assuming this is a real case — the media would be interested in hearing that the accused was admitting to having killed the victim but was asserting self-defense?

Of course, if that entry is entirely fabricated, I suppose it's not so much an amoral and reckless disclosure by LegalMatch as it is false advertising.

I've written to Steve Kramer, LegalMatch's press office, and their general counsel asking some questions.1 Among them is this question — does LegalMatch think that it is not bound by the CAN-SPAM Act, which (as LegalMatch's blog will tell you) prohibits misleading subject lines and requires clear opt-out-of-this-spam systems?

LegalMatch is not the only turd in the beclouded punchbowl of the legal marketing community. But, despite vigorous competition, it is one of the oldest, most noisome, and most persistent turds. Steve Kramer has been pestering the unwilling about LegalMatch for years, and LegalMatch has been using sleazy tactics (and promising to improve them) for a decade.

Yet LegalMatch continues to thrive. That means some lawyers out there are paying them. Those lawyers are equally responsible for perpetuating these practices. And the clients — oh, the clients. Citizens, know this: if you hire someone through LegalMatch, you're hiring someone desperate or stupid or cynical enough to accept this bad behavior.

Back in 2012 I told Steve Kramer "Remove me from your spam list forthwith." Perhaps this post will help get results.

86

The Upward Surge of Mankind

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Well, ladies and gentlemen, we're not here to indulge in fantasy, but in political and economic reality. America, America has become a second-rate power. Its trade deficit and its fiscal deficit are at nightmare proportions. Now, in the days of the Founders, there was accountability to the citizen. The Jeffersons, the Washingtons, the men that built this great republic, made sure of it because it was their own liberty at stake. Today, politicians has no stake in the nation!

All together, these men and women sitting up here represent less than 0.0000001 percent of the country.

You own the country. That's right — you, the citizen.

And you are all being royally screwed over by these, these bureaucrats, with their steak lunches, their hunting and fishing trips, their private jets and golden parachutes.

The United States has 33 different agency heads, each earning over two hundred thousand dollars a year. Now, I have spent the last two months analyzing what all these guys do, and I still can't figure it out. One thing I do know is that our country lost one hundred and ten billion dollars last year, and I'll bet that half of that was spent in all the paperwork going back and forth between all these agency heads. The new law of evolution in American seems to be survival of the unfittest. Well, in my book you either do it right or you get eliminated.

I am not a destroyer of countries. I am a liberator of them!

The point is, ladies and gentleman, that revolution — for lack of a better word — is good.

Revolution is right.

Revolution works.

Revolution clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.

Revolution, in all of its forms — revolution for liberty, for money, for love, knowledge — has marked the upward surge of mankind.

And revolution — you mark my words — will save the malfunctioning nation called the U̶n̶i̶t̶e̶d̶ States of America.

Thank you very much.

(with apologies to Gordon Gecko)

27

Update: Dr. Mario Saad Asks Court To Reconsider Prior Restraint On Epically Ridiculous Grounds

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Last week I wrote about how a Massachusetts federal court rejected Dr. Mario Saad's bumptious demand for a temporary restraining order forbidding the American Diabetes Association from publishing statements of concern about his scientific articles.

As I said, that was not a close call. But Dr. Saad, and his lawyers, are determined, in the sense of "completely out of their minds." They filed a motion for reconsideration, supported by what I will call, in an excess of mercy, a legal brief.

Federal courts strongly disfavor motions for reconsideration; generally you have to cite facts or law that you could not have cited before. Dr. Saad doesn't. Dr. Saad argues . . . well. I won't characterize it. Let me quote it.

Narrowly focusing on the expression of concern – this is speech that has already been published both online and in print format and has been disseminated to countless individuals. Dr. Saad’s request for injunctive relief, asking this Court to order this existing speech to be removed from publication, obviously does not constitute a prior restraint.

In other words, Dr. Saad thinks that when he asks the Court to order the ADA not to publish items in its print magazine, and to take down its online content, that's not "prior restraint" because the ADA has already gotten to speak once.

Dr. Saad does not cite a single case relating to the doctrine of prior restraint, the core issue he is arguing about.

That is not an argument I'd expect from a lawyer. That is an argument I'd expect from a guy trying to start a fight in a bowling alley. That is an argument that shows that the advocate making it either (1) has no idea what prior restraint is and is too lazy and/or stupid to look it up, or (2) thinks the judge is very, very gullible, or (3) both.

As the ADA points out with remarkable patience, that's not what prior restraint means. Prior restraint doesn't mean "once they've said it once you can keep them from saying it again." Prior restraint is when a court uses the force of law to limit speech before a final determination of whether it is lawful. That's exactly what Dr. Saad is asking for.

I cannot immediately recall a lawyer making an argument this breathtakingly ridiculous. I hope that the judge sua sponte imposes sanctions.

Edited to add: A bowling alley line in a prior restraint post wasn't a Lebowski reference. I'm not that clever.

39

Darren Wilson and the Benefit of Doubt

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The United States Department of Justice has released a prosecution memo explaining how it decided not to bring federal charges against Ferguson Police Department Officer Darren Wilson for shooting Michael Brown.

The report is 86 pages long, with 28 footnotes. The report's summary of relevant federal law — what charges are available, what it would have to prove to convict Officer Wilson, and the landscape of use-of-force law — appears correct. I can't evaluate whether the Department has misrepresented what witnesses said or the circumstances of their statements, but the report's evaluation of the credibility of witnesses is convincing: it is based on inconsistencies in statements, inconsistencies with scientific analysis of physical evidence, and other factors that I would use as a defense attorney to attack a prosecution witness. The Department's conclusion that it can't prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is likely correct. Its conclusion that there is no credible evidence supporting prosecution, because there is no credible evidence contradicting Officer Wilson's account, is arguable.

Were I still a federal prosecutor, I wouldn't recommend prosecuting the case, and were I Wilson's defense lawyer, I would like my chances much better than the prosecution's chances. I don't disagree with the factual or legal analysis. But I find it remarkable, both as a former prosecutor and as someone who has practiced criminal defense for 15 years.

I find it remarkable because most potential prosecutions don't get this sort of analysis. Most investigations don't involve rigorous examination of the credibility of the prosecution's witnesses. Most investigations don't involve painstaking consideration of the defendant's potential defenses. Often investigators don't even talk to potential defense witnesses, and if they do, don't follow up on leads they offer. Most investigations don't carefully weigh potentially incriminating and potentially exculpatory scientific evidence. If an explanation of the flaws in a case requires footnotes, you shouldn't expect it to deter prosecution.

Instead, I'm more used to the prosecution assuming their witnesses are truthful, even if they are proven liars. I'm more used to contrary evidence being cynically disregarded. I'm more used to participants in the system stubbornly presuming guilt to the bitter end. I'm more used to prosecutors disregarding potentially exculpatory evidence that they think isn't "material." I'm more used to the criminal justice system ignoring exculpatory science and clinging to inculpatory junk science like an anti-vaxxer.

Why is this case different? It's different because Darren Wilson is a cop. Cops get special rights and privileges and breaks the rest of us don't. Cops get an extremely generous and lenient benefit of the doubt from juries. Nearly every segment of the criminal justice system operates to treat cops more favorably than the rest of us.

The Department of Justice report didn't say "we can't prove this beyond a reasonable doubt, particularly because juries defer to cops." It didn't need to. It's understood. The Department of Justice also didn't have to worry about being called out for inconsistent approaches to other reports. That's because when you're a black guy who shoots a white law enforcement officer in self-defense, they don't write an 86-page memo with 28 footnotes about it. They just prosecute you.

It's not unjust that Darren Wilson gets the benefit of the doubt. It's unjust that nearly everyone else doesn't.

66

A Few Comments on the David Petraeus Plea Deal: What Money And Connections Buy You

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David Petraeus, who suffered a fall worthy of a Greek tragedy when was caught leaking classified information to his biographer-girlfriend, has reached a plea deal with the feds, in the person of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of North Carolina.

As of now two documents are available online. There's the Information, which is the charging document the feds use when grand jury indictment is not required or when the defendant waives that right. There's also the factual basis — the narrative of facts to which Petraeus will admit. These documents reveal that Petraeus has agreed, in advance of charges being filed, to take a misdemeanor.

Generally, poor people react and rich people are proactive. Petraeus is sophisticated and has assets; he could afford to hire lawyers to negotiate with the feds before they charged him. As a result, he was able to secure a pretty good outcome that controlled his risks. The feds let him plead, pre-indictment, to a misdemeanor charge of improper removal and retention of classified documents under 18 USC section 1924. That means even if the federal judge who sentences him goes on a rampage, he can't get more than a year in federal prison — and, given that it's a misdemeanor, will very likely get far less. The Factual Basis includes a United States Sentencing Guideline calculation in which the government and Petraeus agree he winds up at an Adjusted Offense Level of 8, which means the judge can give him straight probation.

It is very difficult to get a misdemeanor out of the feds.

Petraeus' factual basis reveals that he could have been charged with much, much worse. The statement discusses his "Black Books" containing his schedules and notes during his command in Afghanistan; those books contained "national defense information, including Top Secret/SCI code word information." (Factual Basis at paragraphs 17-18.) Petraeus, after acknowledging that "there's code word stuff in there," gave the Black Books to his biographer/girlfriend at her private residence. "The DC Private Residence was not approved for the storage of classified information," the statement notes dryly. (Factual Basis at paragraphs 22-25.) He retrieved the Black Books a few days later after she had been able to examine them, and retained them. Thereafter, when he resigned from the CIA, he signed a certification that he had no classified material in his possession, even though he had the Black Books. (Factual Basis at paragraph 27.) Later, when Petraeus consented to interviews with FBI agents2 he lied to them and told them that he had never provided classified information to his biographer/girlfriend. (Factual Basis at paragraph 32.)

To federal prosecutors, that last paragraph of facts is like "Free Handjob And iPad Day" at Walt Disney World. First, you've got the repeated false statements to the government, each of which is going to generate its own charge under 18 U.S.C. 1001, which makes it illegal for you to lie to your government no matter how much your government lies to you. Then you've got the deliberate leaking of top secret/code word defense data to a biographer. An aggressive prosecutor might charge a felony under 18 U.S.C. section 793 (covering willful disclosure of national defense information) or 18 U.S.C. section 798 (covering disclosure of classified communications intelligence materials or information derived therefrom), both of which have ten-year maximum penalties. Those charges don't seem to require any intent to harm the U.S. — only disclosure of information which could harm the U.S. if distributed. Other than that? You better believe there would be a conspiracy count for Petraeus' interaction with his girlfriend.

If Petraeus were some no-name sad-sack with an underwater mortgage and no connections and no assets to hire lawyers pre-indictment, he'd almost certainly get charged a lot more aggressively than he has been. This administration has been extremely vigorous in prosecuting leakers and threatening the press.

So why is Petraeus getting off with a misdemeanor and a probable probationary sentence? Two reasons: money and power. Money lets you hire attorneys to negotiate with the feds pre-charge, to get the optimal result. Power — whether in the form of actual authority or connections to people with authority — gets you special consideration and the soft, furry side of prosecutorial discretion.

This is colloquially known as justice.

Edited to add: Since I wrote this the actual plea agreement has become available. The most notable part:

8. The United States agrees not to oppose the defendant's request that the defendant receive a non-custodial sentence.

9. The parties jointly recommend the imposition of a two-year term of probation.

So, for those of your keeping score at home: Commander of U.S. Forces in a war zone provides classified documents to his biographer/lover? Misdo, two years probation. 25-year-old small-time musician sells half a pound of pot while carrying a gun? 55 years in federal prison.

26

Weekend Censorious Dipshittery Roundup

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You may take the weekend off. I may take the weekend off. But the censorious spirit never rests, friend.

Dateline: England. MP George Galloway has arranged for his lawyers to send legal threats demanding £5,000 [upon information and belief, about $375,000] from Twitter users who called him an anti-Semite. Mr. Galloway, who has pledged to use any proceeds to build a memorial to Saddam Hussein, has been in the news for yes-butting during discussions of the Charlie Hebdo massacre and declaring his district an "Israeli-free zone." Galloway's legal threats are naturally ridiculous — or would be, if they were uttered in a nation with more sensible libel laws.

Dateline: St. Thomas, USVI: Terri Griffiths, the Acting Attorney General of the U.S. Virgin Islands, does a terrific Tony Soprano impression. She threatened to file criminal charges against the Virgin Islands Daily News for calling her after business hours on a cell phone number she provided in order to seek comment on news stories concerning her public responsibilities. It is not clear if she was serious, drunk, unmedicated, or positioning the Virgin Islands as the site of the next Far Cry sequel.

Dateline: Louisiana State University: Logan Anderson, a 21-year-old junior from Texas who is majoring in mass communications, somehow has an incomplete grasp of First Amendment jurisprudence. She penned an opinion piece in the student paper rounding up the usual suspects in support of censorship of predictably douchey social media app Yik Yak. Anderson's piece is notable for unabashed use of a common trope:

Critics of Bach’s argument for censoring the app argued that doing so would violate free speech — the ever-important bastion of people who like to say rude things on the Internet.

Free speech is constitutionally protected. Hate speech is not.

Leave aside for a moment the communications major's sneer at the First Amendment. Anderson offers a legal proposition: that "free speech" is constitutionally protected but "hate speech" is not. In American law, this is simply false. There is no legally recognized category of "hate speech," let alone any recognized exception to First Amendment protections for "hate speech." This is not subject to reasonable dispute. Please go sell ignorance somewhere else, Ms. Anderson; we're all stocked up here.

25

Judge Tim Grendell Was For The First Amendment Before He Was Against It

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Last week I described how Ohio judge Tim Grendell was abusing his contempt power to lash out at a critic, and how he justified his conduct in a puerile letter to the editor.

Jonathan Adler at the Volokh Conspiracy has picked it up, as has Instapundit and Watchdog.org. Any hope Judge Grendell has of a quiet resolution has been dashed.

With the publicity have come tipsters; Judge Grendell is apparently both feared and despised. One tipster pointed me to a time that Judge Grendell took a different approach to free speech.

In 2003 Grendell was an Ohio state representative. In the context of a symbolic and rather belated vote to ratify the 14th Amendment, he was quoted sneering at the Democratic sponsor of the vote as an illiterate:

Talking about the case that determined "separate but equal," the story said: "Grendell said Mallory should read the case, Plessy
vs. Ferguson, but he doubted Mallory would understand it. 'He's the only reason I might support the OhioReads program,'
Grendell said, referring to the state's volunteer tutoring program."

For what it's worth, Grendell is white and Mallory is black.

This generated condemnation from both Republicans and Democrats. Then-Representative Grendell defended himself, saying he was taken out of context and sounding a ringing endorsement of free speech:

The true irony of the situation is that had I made the comments attributed to me, it would have been my right to do so, without
censure or reprimand, based on my 1st Amendment Right to free speech," he wrote.

3

How did Judge Grendell descend from celebrating his constitutional right to be an ass in 2003 to mouthing platitudes about limits on free speech in 2015? What a curious journey for a "constitutional oriented judge and legal scholar."

57

Update: Judge Tim Grendell's Odd Letter To The Paper About His Censorious Thuggery

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Yesterday I wrote about how Ohio judge Tim Grendell was abusing his contempt power in an unconstitutional attempt to retaliate against criticism.

Today a source provided me with a copy of the letter Judge Grendell sent to the editorial board of a local paper, the Plain Dealer, in response to a critical article.

The letter satisfies my expectations concerning Judge Grendell.

To the Editorial Board ofCleveland.com,
As a constitutional oriented judge and legal scholar, I appreciate the First Amendment and the general right of free speech.

What tha blue fuck is a "constitutional oriented judge," other than an attempt to make me choke on my morning coffee?

Also, note the classic censor's rhetorical move: you always start saying you respect free speech. BUT . . . . [Edit: I am reminded that the technical term for this is "gertruding."]

But the right to free speech is not unlimited. Just as a person cannot stand up in a movie theater and yell "fire", a person has no constitutional right to falsely tell a party in an ongoing child protective custody case that the judge is mentally ill, does not follow the law, and should be "kicked" by that party. Such irresponsible and false speech is just as detrimental to the public welfare and the fair administration of our public justice system as the prohibited movie theater conduct is to public safety.

So much arglebargle.

First: "the right to free speech is not unlimited" is another typical censor's rhetorical move. It's a non sequitur. If you have relevant authority showing that this particular instance of speech is outside the protection of the First Amendment, cite it. Otherwise this is like saying, "well, there are some circumstances where I am allowed to shoot someone" when the cops come to arrest you for shooting your spouse.

Second: Stahhhhp. Staahhhhp with the hackneyed, misleading fire in a crowded theater reference. Protip: the legal analysis of anyone who references that Holmes line is not to be taken seriously.

Third, the generic and conclusory "detrimental to the public welfare and fair administration of our public justice system" is meritless for the reasons I explained yesterday. Most of the language he's complaining about is explicitly opinion and rhetorical hyperbole, and he hasn't come close to offering the sort of compelling evidence of actual disruption of justice required by three quarters of a century of Supreme Court precedent.

In the case in my court, involving the protection of a child in need ofjudicial intervention, Nancy McArthur's false speech encouraging a noncompliant party to continue to be disrespectful of the Court and noncompliant with Court orders was not protected speech. It was interference with a judicial proceeding and improperly impeded the protection of a child.

Judge Grendell's proposition seems to be that if a party to a case asks me about a judge, and I criticize the judge, I'm subject to a contempt order because I am encouraging disobedience. I invite Judge Grendell, with the assistance of a doctor holding a flashlight if necessary, to cite any authority supporting that proposition.

Confidentiality limitations prevent a discussion of any other facts, but suffice to say, the Plain Dealer's Editorial Board and Brent Larkin are mistaken as to both the facts and the law. This is particularly disappointing because the Court provided the newspaper with the correct information before it published its editorial.

Oddly, though the issue is so important to him, Judge Grendell cannot cite a single precedent supporting his unconstitutionally narcissistic view of his own contempt power. Ultimately this letter is reminiscent not of an analysis by a "legal scholar" but of a YouTube comment.

People like this decide on which of your rights the State will recognize.

17

Dr. Mario J.A. Saad Tries, And Fails, To Censor American Diabetes Association

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Dr. Saad is mad.

Dr. Saad is mad because of something bad — specifically, the American Diabetes Association, through its journal Diabetes, is publishing expressions of concern about some of his scholarly articles, and may formally withdraw them.

Expressions of concern — like formal withdrawal of past articles — are part of the peer review process. It's how scientific journals police themselves and call attention to questions raised about research they've published. Naturally they are a source of annoyance to the authors questioned, as I've written about in the cases of several legal threats against the blog Retraction Watch.

So when the ADA began questioning Dr. Saad's work, he and his lawyers at Deutsch Williams did not rely on the peer review process, or on advocacy or persuasion. Don't be ridiculous! This is America. So they sued.

Dr. Saad sued the ADA for defamation, claiming that they were harming his reputation by printing digital expressions of concern about his work, preparing a print run, and declining to publish him further until their concerns were assuaged. That much — the attempt to vindicate scientific propositions through litigation, rather than through . . . you know . . . science — is banal at this point. What makes Dr. Saad and his lawyers notable is the remedy they demand.

Dr. Saad demanded in his complaint, and sought through a motion, an injunction forcing the ADA to remove its expressions of concern, and prohibiting it from publishing them or withdrawing Dr. Saad's articles. This is aggressive, in the sense of patently ridiculous. Dr. Saad is demanding prior restraint of speech, something that is prohibited (at least as pre-trial relief) in almost all circumstances.

When you are asking a federal judge to do something patently unconstitutional, and you're not a federal prosecutor, you face a conundrum. Do you attempt to distinguish the decades of Supreme Court cases saying that the judge can't do what you want, explaining in creative fashion why they don't apply? Or do you just ignore the issue and hope it doesn't come up? Dr. Saad's lawyers went with the later strategy, which might be called Underpants Gnome lawyering. Their brief studiously ignores the First Amendment, the wall of prior restraint authority, and the equitable doctrine that defamation can't be enjoined.4 The ADA's brief in opposition is more or less "what the fuck, man?" with bluebooking and footnotes.

Lawyers employ Underpants Gnome lawyering because sometimes it works. It didn't this time. United States District Judge Timothy Hillman denied Dr. Saad's request for an injunction politely but firmly:

Whatever interest Dr. Saad has in preserving his professional reputation, it is not enough to overcome the heavy presumption against the proposed order’s validity. This is precisely the type of circumstance in which the law forbids courts from halting speech before it occurs. See Near v. Minnesota, 283 U.S. 697, 716, 51 S.Ct. 625 (1931) (declaring unconstitutional a court order preventing The Saturday Press from publishing a defamatory newspaper); Krebiozen, 334 Mass. 86 (affirming denial of injunction that would have prevented the publication of statements harmful to medical researchers’ professional reputations). The appropriate remedy in cases where a “publisher is to print a libelous, defamatory, or injurious story . . . lies not in an injunction against publication but in a damages or criminal action after publication.” In re Providence Journal Co., 820 F.2d 1342, 1345 (1st Cir. 1986).

This was not a close call.

Dr. Saad may still proceed seeking damages against the ADA, and might, hypothetically, get an injunction against specific statements found to be false after a full trial. But his effort to vindicate his scientific view through force of law has failed.

I offer no opinion on whether the ADA is right, or reasonable, in questioning Dr. Saad's research for scientific reasons. I got through my science/math/bio requirements in college through a Physics for Poets class in which I got a B+ by writing a speculative essay about antimatter derivative of 1950s Heinlein essays. But I do question the reliability of Dr. Saad's research on this basis: how can you trust the science of someone who tried to get a court order prohibiting public questioning of their conclusions? If a new therapy were based on a scientific theory that was defended not with peer review and the scientific method, but with litigation, would you trust it to be used on a loved one? I wouldn't. Dr. Saad may find that his litigiousness has harmed his credibility more than anything the ADA has ever said or done.

Hat tip to the folks at Retraction Watch.

67

Worthy of Contempt: Ohio Judge Tim Grendell Abuses His Office To Suppress Criticism

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Somebody mean bruised Tim Grendell's feels.

They didn't do it directly. Nobody marched up to Grendell and said "you're a petty, totalitarian thug" to his face. Nobody left a hurtful comment on his LiveJournal.

No, somebody said mean things about Tim Grendell in a private conversation with another person, a third party.

Tim Grendell caught wind of it. Now, generally, when people find out that someone is trash-talking them, they have a few options: they can rub dirt on it and walk it off like a goddamn grown-up, they can engage in debate, high or low, with their critic, or they can even sue the critic privately for some sort of redress of buttchafe.

But Tim Grendell isn't people. He's a judge. Specifically, he's a judge on the Geauga County Court of Common Pleas Probate and Juvenile Division in Ohio.

That gives Tim Grendell power — and he's not afraid to abuse it.

(more…)

46

A Warning To All Mankind

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Dear Friends:

I was asked by Ken, whom I esteem most highly and whose website "Pope Hat" is among the finest published today, to write a special guest contribution. I would like to thank Ken for this opportunity, and all of you, my most valued friends, for reading this important message.

Friends, what do you think of, when I mention the common American pony, or, as science calls it, Equus Maleficus? Like most, you probably think of fairgrounds and hayrides and smiling kids. Have you considered that behind the smiling mask that is Equus Maleficus, there lurks the grin of a hate-crazed demon? I swear it is true. I have been to the ceremonies. I have drunk the sacrificial offerings. I have spoken with the nameless devotees of the pony cult, high atop the barns, as the ponies circled below, feasting on the children, my ears ringing with the din of the screams, a din so shudderingly perverse as to shock the conscience of hardcore Satanists.

Pony of Death

Yes. Satanists.

Make no mistake. Ponies are in league with Lucifer. After forty-three years of nightmare and terror, saved only by a desperate conviction to tell the truth, I am here to vouch for that which "sane" men fear to utter. There is reason to believe that the pony was in fact the beast which tempted Eve into eating the forbidden fruit, for do not ponies eat the apple, sweetest of all the harvest? Yes, the HARVEST. And at the Harvest, each May Eve and Walpurgisnacht, the robed, masked figures sit gibbering before their pony idols, chanting the chants and praying the prayers to their obscene gods, the ponies, who are well sated by the blood and flesh of the innocent, the virgins. The virgins, how their screams echo round the hills and valleys, as the ponies come to take their tribute. A tribute whose cost, over the centuries, must be reckoned with that taken by Adolf Hitler himself.

Hitler pony

Yes. Adolf Hitler. None dare call it treason, and yet it is fact, cemented in stone, that the so-called Aryan unbermensch was a devotee, nay, a high priest, of the pony cult. And at the ceremonies, the shouts and cries of the Jewish children, ripped from their mothers' bosoms and fed to the ponies by hand, caused Father Martin Heinmuller, an early convert to Nazism, the public front of the pony cult, to faint on the spot, blood bursting from his ears in an astonishing orgy of woe. This was his testimony at Nuremberg, the testimony that led to the conviction and execution of Baldur Von Schirach, leader of the Hitler Youth and High Epopt of the pony cult.

These things have happened. Man must be prepared to accept notions of the cosmos, and of his own place in the seething vortex of time, whose merest mention is paralyzing. He must, too, be placed on guard against a specific lurking peril within, the pony, Equus Maleficus, which is the gateway to the door of death. Their hand is ever at your throat, though you see it not. "As a foulness shall ye know them." The pony is a spiritual corrupter, a ghost of fire made flesh, come to devour the good and the young. For was it not, as told in the Holy Qur'an, Al Rum, the pony that misled the Prophet Muhammad and deceived him into drinking the very wine of foulness?

Other examples, through religion and history, can be given. As for me, my time is short. The ponies come. I pray that this missive is heeded, though it be too late to save me from the gnawing teeth, the trampling hooves. Be on guard, lest they come for you.

Theodore Weinzel

Public Affairs, National Miniature Donkey Association.

37

A Brand New Exchange About Ponies

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David Charles

Jan 15

to me
Hi,

I hope you are well.

Would you be interested in collaborating with me on a free high-end article for publication on your site popehat.com?

All of my articles are of high-end editorial quality and will be 100% unique to you. I will provide a genuine piece that your readers will enjoy reading and will include one link in the body of the article.

Is there any particular area you'd like to see covered on the site? I have a number of topic ideas that I'd be happy to discuss with you further.

Please do get in touch if this is of interest to you.

Kind Regards,
David Charles
Editorial Manager
www.specialistauthors.com

Ken At Popehat

Jan 15

to David
Dear Mr. Charles,

I am well! Thank you for so hoping.

I am intrigued by the offer of a high-end article, particularly one that comes for free. It has been difficult to produce content for the website of late owing to a variety of factors that are best not transmitted by wire over state lines.

There is a particular area I'd like to see covered. Let me begin by asking — are any of your writers capable of addressing health and safety hazards? If so I will elaborate.

Respectfully yours,

Ken White
www.popehat.com

Ken At Popehat

Jan 27 (8 days ago)

to David
Mr. Charles? Are you there?

[email protected]

Jan 29 (6 days ago)

to me
Images are not displayed. Display images below – Always display images from [email protected]
Hi Ken,

Thanks for your email, appreciate you getting back to us.

My name is Aimee, I work with David here.

We are interested in working with you, and wondered if you would be interested in an article focusing on maintaining your brand status internationally online?

The article will be of the highest editorial quality and include one do follow link.

Would you be interested in proceeding?

Kind Regards,

Aimee

Editorial Quality Manager
www.Specialistauthors.com

Ken At Popehat

Feb 3 (1 day ago)

to aimee.w
Dear Aimee,

Thank you for responding! I sure hope David is all right. I was getting worried.

I appreciate your offer of an article focusing on maintaining my brand status internationally online.

Would this article be unique to our site? It would be hard to maintain our brand status even in this county, let alone internationally, if we have the same article everyone else has.

I'm very happy to hear that the article will be of the highest editorial quality. I don't mind sharing with you, Aimee, that we have some editorial issues at Popehat.com. There are fewer after certain legal proceedings involving Clark, but they have weighed heavily on my heart.

Is it possible to seek any customization of the article? I have nothing but respect for your high editors' grasp of multinational brand status issues, but there are certain pressing issues that I think are especially important. I'm wondering, specifically, if the article could address certain fell but little-known risks to brand status (and even to health and security).

Thanks,

Ken White
www.popehat.com

[email protected]

Attachments2:21 AM (14 hours ago)

to me
Hi Ken,

Thanks for getting back to me, much appreciated.

David is fine, he is just a bit snowed under at work now. Thanks for your kind concern :)

The article will be unique to your site, and I will not offer or share the content elsewhere.

You can of course have customization of the article, could you please let me know what you would like included or omitted in particular, and I can work this in.

I would need to request that the article is not tagged as either a guest post, posted by admin or mention Specialist Authors (at my managers request).

Would these conditions be OK for you?

Thank you again for your reply.

Ken At Popehat

4:28 PM (4 minutes ago)

to aimee.w
Dear Aimee:

I am glad to hear that David is all right, and that he has not been, say, trampled. NOT TRAMPLED! I just mean, uh, inconvenienced.

I am thrilled that you will customize my article! I feel that now brand status will be maintained not just internationally, but uniquely. You have no idea how worried bloggers are about their brand getting mixed up with other brands, like that time all those people from InfoWars got here by mistake and started screaming that I was the Whore of Babylon and that their anti-chemtrail-wristbands would protect them from my discussions of defamation jurisprudence. That was brand HUMILIATION, Aimee, and I'd like to avoid it if I can do so legally and consistent with my medical regimen.

So! Let's maintain the Popehat brand, internationally, even in countries that sound like hipsters, like Chad.

Here's what I would like included in the article: the grave physical and psycho-sexual hazards posed to brands by the Grave Pony Menace in the form of the Pony State of America and Canada (PSAC, pronounced "sack," as in ball- or gunny-). We can pretend to ignore it, Aimee, if we live in a Green Zone, like Chicago or Duluth or the Vice President's residence (the Vice President finds ponies distracting). But other places can't ignore it. The ponies — they come. They come. How can something so moderate-sized and fluffy be so inexorable? They come, and they stomp, and trample, and bite, and rear up in a showy and disconcerting way, and they stare into our eyes. When you stare into the pony, Aimee, the pony stares into you, particularly if it has ripped your midsection open with it's snake-quick sharp teeth.

How can we brand, given the threat of ponies? We can work to develop a brand — legal commentary, apocalyptic fantasy, trolling MRAs, art — what what good is the brand when the ponies show up? Lickety-split our customers go from saying "Popehat is where I go for trenchant free speech commentary" to "Popehat is where I went and saw a pony rip out a man's femoral artery and he seemed to do jazzhands as he bled out but that was probably just frightened flailing and they made Clark clean up but the place still smells ominously coppery." That's no brand. How do you pitch that? Hipster or not that will not test well in Chad.

So: in summation, please have your high editors create a piece that explains how Popehat can remain about legally sophisticated and informative snark, INTERNATIONALLY, and not about glistering piles of viscera left carelessly behind by things with names like Shasta and Clip-Clop and Prettypretty. HELP US DEFEND OUR BRAND.

I would be happy, per your request, to mention Specialist Authors. I hope that your Specialist Author who specializes in pony-violence has a name evoking probity, wisdom, and defiance.

I remain, very truly yours,

Ken White
www.popehat.com

P.S. The backlink is fine, but it can only contain a p and an n, not a p and an n AND an o or y.

60

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility For Chip McGee's Feelz. And For Wombats.

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Bedford New Hampshire School Superintendent Chip McGee is a sensitive man. Chip McGee is sensitive to his duties as an educator. He's sensitive to the instruction and welfare of his students. He's sensitive to the constitutional limits on his power as a government official.

But mostly, he's sensitive to Chip McGee's butt. And Chip McGee's butt hurts. Chip McGee's butt hurts as though Chip McGee was "the Gimp" at Rod Stewart's last acid and cocaine-fueled anal wombat insertion party.

Why does Chip McGee's butt hurt so? Because feelz.

A number of students at Bedford High School were disciplined after making remarks on Twitter about Superintendent Chip McGee’s announcement on the social networking site that classes would resume on Wednesday.

It seems students said rude things about McGee's insistence they attend school the day after a blizzard. Chip McGee understands that the students have a right to speak their minds. After all, the Constitution guarantees even students the right to free speech. But with that great power comes a great responsibility, the responsibility not to upset Chip McGee.

I want to stress that the widespread rumors that Rod Stewart inserted a wombat into my anus are just that - rumors!

I want to stress that the widespread rumors that Rod Stewart inserted a wombat into my anus are just that – rumors! No credible witnesses have come forth to support these allegations. And if any do, they'll be suspended, and it will go down on their permanent records!

“Kids said some very funny, clever things,” McGee said on Thursday. “And some kids stood up and said, ‘Hey, watch your manners.’ That was great. And some kids — a few — said some really inappropriate things.”

And so Chip McGee suspended four of them, for tweeting, from the privacy of their homes, about just what an appalling dildo-bat Chip McGee actually is.

“It’s been a really good exercise in issues of students’ right to speech, on the one hand, and students’ and teachers’ rights to an educational environment that’s conducive to learning,” McGee said. “Kids have the right to say whatever they want about me.”

However, this does not mean students should expect to be able to make inappropriate comments on social media without consequences, McGee said — even though the tweets were sent outside of school.

Actually, the First Amendment means that students do have the right to say that Chip McGee is an appalling dildo-bat from the the privacy of their homes, even on social media, without governmentally-imposed consequences. And Chip McGee, for whatever reason the citizens of Bedford, New Hampshire in their wisdom decided, is the government. Schools may discipline students for speech that disrupts the classroom (shouting, during math class, that "Chip McGee is an appalling dildo-bat") or for speech advocating illegal activity,

But it is not illegal to call Chip McGee an appalling dildo-bat, or "the Gimp" at Rod Stewart's last anal wombat insertion party, from the privacy of one's home, or even on social media. In the first case, this is protected opinion (I sincerely and genuinely believe that Chip McGee is an appalling dildo-bat), and in the second, mere hyperbole. (It was probably just a ferret, or maybe a mongoose.) Particularly given that in Bedford, New Hampshire, Chip McGee is the government. He is The Man, as that wombat, and Rod Stewart, could assure you. And if these students and their parents sue Chip McGee, and win (as they assuredly would) he'll never pay a dime.

“The First Amendment right means you can say what you want, (but) it doesn’t mean that you are free of repercussion,” McGee said. “It can’t disrupt what we’re doing in school … If something disrupts school, and it (occurs) outside school, we not only can take action, we have to.”

McGee said he hopes that students will learn from this incident about “the line” of decent and appropriate commentary.

“You only learn that by checking where it is, and having something happen when you cross it,” he said.

"I support free speech, but" is the eternal cry of the government censor who knows censorship is illegal, but abuses his power because, fuck it, he's the government. In Chip McGee's case, it's a very big but. A but large enough to fit a wombat.

Or maybe a ferret or a mongoose.

UPDATE:

We tweeted these innocuous questions to Chip McGee earlier today.

No wombats, or ferrets or mongeese, were harmed during the making of those tweets. And yet Chip McGee has deleted his twitter account, in record time.

IT'S GONE.

4

On Seeing John Waterhouse's My Sweet Rose

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John Waterhouse, My Sweet Rose, 1908

John Waterhouse, My Sweet Rose, 1908. Photo courtesy of jwwaterhouse.com

Contemplate in all detail
A scintillating allegory
Integrating to avail
Alated visions of the story
Of a maid's respiratory,
Hortatory adoration
Of a floral territory:
Horticultural elation.

Ruminate this painted tale,
Instilling senses desultory
Till the slated sights regale
Your appetite for gustatory
Stimulation, for the glory
Of this vernal fascination
Inundates one category:
Horticultural elation.

Penetrating import's veil,
Distill the scents explanatory,
Requiring that the maid inhale,
Allowing that her laudatory
Attitude be prefatory,
Topiary recreation
Finishing her repertory:
Horticultural elation.

Devotion to this inventory,
Flights of the imagination,
Are baited by obligatory
Horticultural elation.

~David Byron, ca. 1990, for Cathie

38

The Feds Reach A Settlement With Craig Brittain, Revenge Pornster and Extortionist Behind "Is Anybody Down"

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Back in 2012 and 2013 I wrote about the saga of Craig Brittain and his revenge porn site "Is Anybody Down." The genesis of that series was Marc Randazza's discovery that the site was posting nude pictures and contact information, and someone calling themselves "David Blade III, takedown lawyer" was charging to "help" get the stuff taken down. All evidence suggested that David Blade never existed and that he was an invention of Craig Brittain, the operator of the site. In other words, it was an unusually despicable wire fraud and extortion scheme.

I counseled patience, because the system's wheels grind slowly. Finally we have a consequence to Brittain — of a sort.

The Federal Trade Commission — which was investigating Craig back in 2013 — has reached a settlement with him. The FTC had prepared an administrative complaint against Craig Brittain. That complaint shows that the FTC concluded several key points about Craig's practices. First this is their accusation about his methods of obtaining nude photos:

Respondent used three different methods to obtain photographs for the Website. First, Respondent encouraged and solicited individuals to submit, anonymously, photographs of other individuals with their intimate parts exposed for posting on the Website. Most submitters were men sending photographs of women. Respondent required that all submissions include at least two photographs, one of which had to be a full or partial nude, as well as the subject’s full name, date of birth (or age), town and state, a link to the subject’s Facebook profile, and phone number. Respondent received and compiled the photographs and personal information, posted them on the Website, and in some instances, Respondent posted additional personal information that he independently located about the subjects.

6. Second, Respondent posed as a woman on the Craigslist advertising website and, after sending other women photographs purportedly of himself, solicited photographs of them with their intimate parts exposed in return. If they sent such photographs, Respondent posted them on the Website without their knowledge or permission.

7. Third, Respondent instituted a “bounty system” on the Website, whereby anyone could request that others find and post photos of a specific person in exchange for a reward of at least $100. Respondent collected a “standard listing fee” of $20 for each request and half of all rewards given.

That contradicts Craig's various stories, which changed from day to day, but often centered around the claim "they consented."

Like everyone else who looked at the evidence, the FTC also concluded that Craig was David Blade III:

Respondent also advertised content removal services on the Website. In these advertisements, purported third parties identified as “Takedown Hammer” and “Takedown Lawyer” promised to have consumers’ content removed from the Website in exchange for a payment of $200 to $500. The advertisements referred interested consumers to the websites, www.takedownhammer.com and www.takedownlawyer.com, for further information. In fact, Respondent himself owned such websites, and posed as a third party to obtain money to remove the same photographs that he had posted on the Website.

11. Respondent earned approximately $12,000 from operating www.isanybodydown.com.

Craig has told many contradictory stories about David Blade, but he's always denied being him.

Craig settled this administrative complaint with the FTC. As far as I can tell he was not represented by counsel. Many people will find the terms of the settlement very unsatisfying. Craig admits no guilt. He doesn't go to jail. He doesn't pay any money. He does promise not to post nude pictures without the subjects' consent, and not to make misrepresentations about posting pictures online. He does have to destroy all the pictures and identity information he got while running the site. He also has to inform any employees or agents working with him on any web enterprise about the order. If he does anything else web-related, he has to turn over to the FTC at their demand a wide variety of information (privacy and consent policies, complaints, etc.) about the business. He has to tell the FTC for the next 10 years if he changes jobs, so they can watch what he's doing. And the terms of the order last 20 years.

A few thoughts about this based on my past dealings with the FTC:

1. This suggests the FTC determined he had no assets worth taking.

2. If he violates the order, the FTC can file against him in federal court. The resulting civil/administrative process only bears the most remote resemblance to due process. It will be ridiculously easy for the FTC to shut down and confiscate any new enterprise he starts for the next 20 years. The clients I've seen be most mercilessly and thoroughly screwed without pretense of fairness have been FTC defendants in federal court.

3. Craig Brittain is now subject to a permanent and relationship-and-career-debilitating stigma. Employers, lenders, landlords and others won't necessarily pick up internet drama. But you can bet that they'll pick up on an FTC consent order. Craig may want to change his name to something without such baggage, like maybe Pustule Nickelback McHitler III.

4. This doesn't prevent criminal prosecution. Nothing in the agreement shows any guarantee by the feds. The feds couldn't prevent state prosecution. Realistically, I think it means that federal prosecution is unlikely for past deeds. [I'd love to make a convincing argument here that this shows that he's about to be indicted, just to mess with his head. But I'm not a lowlife liar like Craig Brittain.] Federal prosecutors have limited resources and will likely see this as a resolution of any investigation. As for state prosecution, it's still possible given the applicable statute of limitations. A victim might take the FTC complaint and Craig's agreement to the locals and use it as incentive to go after him for fraud or extortion, as some locals are doing as we speak. If you are one of Craig's victims, and want help putting together a package to persuade locals, I'm happy to help.

However, be sure of this — if Craig Brittain ever gets up to bad behavior again, this result makes it much more likely that prosecutors will decide to spend resources on him.

Is this the end of the Craig Brittain saga? Not necessarily. But it's certainly an end to Craig Brittain ever being employable.

He'll have to spend his time at his new hobby — trying to insinuate himself into GamerGate, which for whatever reason he thought would be receptive.

Edit: Adam offers up a link-dense post tracing Craig's changing excuses and stories. That post is why you don't want Adam investigating you.

Second Edit: Apparently you can find Craig at this Twitter account. He's concerned about media ethics.