Last week I sent out the Popehat Signal asking for pro bono help from a Maryland attorney in support of a political blogger who was seeking to preserve his anonymity in a SLAPP suit.
Many people kindly retweeted it and blogged it and passed it along, and several stand-up attorneys inquired to see if they might be able to help. Eventually we found the right match. Now, more can be told.
The blogger is "Aaron Worthing," who currently blogs at Allergic to Bull. You can read about the case at his blog, and read about the motion he has just filed here. I will refrain from discussing the specifics; discover them for yourselves. Suffice it to say that I find the plaintiff in the SLAPP suit quite evil.
Aaron was caught in a ridiculous Catch-22: he was capable of drafting an opposition to the plaintiff's motion seeking to unmask him, but he could not file it without unmasking himself. The dilemma was solved when Elizabeth Kingsley of Harmon, Curran, Spielberg + Eisenberg, LLP in Washington, D.C. answered the Popehat Signal and stepped in for the limited purpose, as I understand it, of petitioning the court to allow Aaron Worthing to file his papers seeking to preserve his anonymity without breaching that anonymity. (Aaron drafted, and is responsible for, the substantive motion to quash subpoenas linked above.) Aaron may post more specifics about that soon. [Edit: here is his post about resolving the Catch-22.]
Beth specializes in representing non-profits and political campaigns, but quickly offered to step in here, to Aaron's gratitude and satisfaction. Beth and Harmon Curran acted in the best tradition of attorney pro bono work. As I've frequently argued, such generosity and civic spirit is essential to protecting freedom of expression in America from threats of all sorts. Beth has my admiration and thanks for helping, as does her firm.
So. What can you do for free speech?
By the way, Aaron is to the right of me, and has written for blogs even more firmly to the right of me. We undoubtedly disagree vigorously about many subjects. I don't have the privilege of knowing Beth well enough to know her political stances, but it would not surprise me in the least if she differs from Aaron as well. But that doesn't matter. You know why.