So on Sunday I flew down to America's wretched capital city to prepare for this morning's jury selection in the case of Mann vs Steyn - the world's most worthless and longest-running defamation suit. And, as the plane landed and taxied toward the terminal, everyone on the flight other than me hurriedly opened up their telephones to see what excitements they'd missed during our two hours in the air. And my manager and my publicist discovered that, having taken over eleven years to get us to the eve of trial, the District of Columbia Superior Court has now decided to postpone it. The Court's Sunday-afternoon order in full:
ORDER CONTINUING TRIAL
Regrettably, because of an unexpected illness, the Court is unable to preside over an in-person jury trial. As a result, the trial scheduled to begin the morning of Monday, October 30, 2023, must be postponed.
The Court will hold a remote status hearing on Tuesday, November 14, 2023, at 3:00 p.m., in Virtual Courtroom 518 to discuss when it is practical to hold the trial. In the meantime, the parties should confer to propose times when it might be feasible for the trial to commence.
So the trial I'd prepared for - and, indeed, for which I'd returned to the US from France in some serious discomfort - is now off. But don't worry: after another fortnight we'll hold a Zoom call to discuss "when it might be feasible for the trial to commence". Early 2024? Late 2025? 2027? How about never, m'lud?
"His Honor" Alfred Irving will forgive me if I am unsympathetic to this "unexpected illness". Ten months ago, Mr Irving, "the fourth trial judge" (a phrase that does not exist in any functioning jurisdiction), reacted to my own "unexpected illness" - two heart attacks - by querying whether I'd actually had them:
He represents he suffered the first heart attack while in London. He represents that he later traveled to France where he suffered the second heart attack. Mr. Steyn indicates that the second heart attack required his hospitalization. According to Mr. Steyn, he continues to receive medical care... He represents that he is engaged in cardiac rehabilitation and that his physicians have advised against air travel and to limit his stress...
Mr. Steyn represents that his physicians have written a letter, but in French...
And so on and so forth, until his decision that, notwithstanding my doctors' assessment that I was too weak to leave France, my presence was mandatory in Courtroom 518 in DC for his crappy conference the following week. In effect, the Court decided to indulge Plaintiff's urge to upgrade his lousy defamation suit into a capital offense. It took a brutal affidavit from my disgusted cardiologist, asserting inter alia that it would be greatly to Mann's advantage to kill me and that the judge shouldn't be assisting him in that end, to persuade the Court to return to more or less civilised norms.
Nevertheless, the additional stresses imposed at long distance by this wanker judge in that first month after my heart attacks had effects that plague me still. I traveled to DC in a wheelchair ...and for nothing.
So I'm disinclined to take at face value the Court's "representation" that it has had an "unexpected illness". Where's your physicians' letter? In French or any other language...
My general posture to this entirely dysfunctional system, as this awful case has dragged on from 2012 to 2014 to 2017 to 2021 to who knows when has been that of the late English barrister (and subsequent cabinet minister) F E Smith:
Judge: Are you trying to show contempt for this court, Mr Smith?
Smith: No, My Lord. I am attempting to conceal it.*
But it's very hard attempting to conceal it for over a decade, and I decline to do so any longer. My characterization of America's "dirty stinkin' rotten corrupt justice system" lets them off too lightly: it is an evil racket worthy only of contempt.
Just to take merely the smallest point: Consider the cost of my travel to Washington yesterday, the cost of changing my pre-Thanksgiving return flight to fly back today ...and then estimate the total tab (now climbing out of the mid-seven figures) for eleven-plus years of this codswallop without end.
As I said, we are presently on the "fourth trial judge". The first, Natalia Combs Greene, procedurally bollocksed the case. The second, out of deference to his incompetent boob of a colleague, declined to unbollocks it. The third was actually quite good - so naturally she was removed and transferred elsewhere.
As for the fourth, over at Powerline this weekend, John Hinderaker assessed the core elements of the case. Here is John's take:
So how could D.C. [Superior] Court Judge Alfred Irving possibly have denied his motion for summary judgment? This is Irving's explanation:
'Dr. Mann offers significant evidence that Mr. Steyn held ill-will toward him, that Mr. Steyn was zealous in advancing his side of the climate change debate, and that Mr. Steyn did not investigate his claims. The combination of such evidence could reasonably support a jury finding that Mr. Steyn acted with actual malice.'
But ill will is at best marginally relevant to actual malice, while being a zealous advocate has nothing whatever to do with it. And the judge's statement that Steyn did not investigate his claims is simply false. Rather, he was aware of the investigations that exonerated Mann from wrongdoing, but did not agree with them. Instead, he agreed with the scientists who think Mann's hockey stick was absurd as well as deceptive, and could not have been constructed in good faith, for the reasons Steyn laid out in his deposition.
Mr Hinderaker is quite right: "ill will" toward the plaintiff is irrelevant to the legal standard, and, as this judge was obliged to admit very belatedly, most of the "significant evidence" offered by Mann came from years after the alleged defamatory publication. Being "zealous" in advancing an opposing view is so worthless a charge no creature more sentient than an amoeba would put it in a judicial ruling. And the assertion that "Mr Steyn did not investigate his claims" is belied by my testimony under oath, in which I'm able to reel off the top of my head two decades' worth of scientists and publications that disagree with Mann: see here, here, and here.
This judge isn't up to it, and the last pre-postponement communication received from him was so disturbing that I would, in a non-corrupt town, have filed a complaint for judicial misconduct.
Sorry if I sound a bit cranky. But I'm now trying to rustle up a return flight after yet another wasted trip to the crapped-out courthouse where justice goes to die...
UPDATE! No flights out today, so we're stuck here twiddling our thumbs for another night. I loathe this town.
*UPPERDATE! Richard Langworth of Hillsdale fleshes out the above F E Smith case, from Churchill's sketches of Great Contemporaries:
A boy who had been run over was suing a tramway company for
damages. F. E. appeared for the company. The case for the lad was that the accident had led to blindness. The judge, a kindly if somewhat garrulous soul, allowed sympathy to outrun discretion.
'Poor boy, poor boy!' he exclaimed. 'Blind! Put him on a chair so that the jury can see him.'
This was weighting the scale of justice, and F. E. was moved to protest.
'Perhaps your honour would like to have the boy passed round the jury box,' he suggested.
'That is a most improper remark,' exclaimed the judge.
'It was provoked by a most improper suggestion,' was the startling reply.
Judge Willis tried to think of a decisive retort. At last it arrived.
'Mr Smith, have you ever heard of a saying by Bacon - the great Bacon - that youth and discretion are ill-wedded companions?'
'Yes, I have,' came the instant repartee. 'And have you ever heard of a saying of Bacon - the great Bacon - that a much-talking judge is like an ill-tuned cymbal?'
'You are extremely offensive, young man,' exclaimed the judge.
'As a matter of fact,' said Smith, 'we both are; but I am trying to be and you can't help it.'
Such a dialogue would be held brilliant in a carefully written play, but that these successive rejoinders, each one more smashing than the former, should have leapt into being upon the spur of the moment is astounding.
~Thank you, by the way, to all those of you who have ordered our limited-edition SteynOnline Liberty Stick - the agreeable alternative to Mann's hockey stick, and featuring Magna Carta at one end and the US Constitution at the other, so you can wave it at whomso'er you wish. I signed and numbered a bunch before I left for DC, and I shall resume my labors when I land back in New Hampshire. These Liberty Sticks are, you'll be stunned to hear, not made round the back of the Wuhan Institute of Virology like everything else, but right here in the USA - in Minnesota, to be more specific.
~Meanwhile, what of my other case? As most readers know, a few weeks back I filed my second Statement of Claim against the UK media censor Ofcom in the King's Bench Division of the English High Court. Many readers, listeners and viewers have inquired about how to support my landmark lawsuit against Lord Grade and his goons over their throttling of honest discussion of the Covid and the vaccines. Well, there are several ways to lend a hand, including:
a) signing up a friend for a Steyn Club Gift Membership;
b) buying a chum a SteynOnline gift certificate;
c) ordering a copy of my latest book The Prisoner of Windsor (you won't regret it); or
d) treating yourself to the above-mentioned Liberty Stick.
With the first two methods, one hundred per cent of the proceeds and, with the latter two, a significant chunk thereof go to a grand cause - and you or your loved one gets something, too.
~Notwithstanding Mark's one-step-forward-three-steps-back health, we had a busy weekend at SteynOnline, starting with Mark himself back in the anchor seat of our Clubland Q&A. On Saturday we wrapped up our audio serialization of Steyn's climatological bestseller "A Disgrace to the Profession": The World's Scientists - In Their Own Words - on Michael E Mann, his Hockey Stick and their Damage to Science, Volume One. You can listen to Part Twenty here, and scroll down the SteynOnline home page for all previous episodes in reverse order. Rick McGinnis's weekend movie date plumped for a Robert Wise pre-Sound of Music horror outing, The Haunting, and Mark's Sunday Song of the Week found him spelling it out.
If you haven't yet caught it, don't miss the return of Steyn's Sunday Poem - because video poetry is where the big bucks are. And they don't get any bigger than with poems about Montenegro.
If you were too busy spending the weekend "representing" that you're indisposed, we hope you'll want to check out one or three of the foregoing as a new week begins.