Thank you to many SteynOnline readers around the world who've continued to support my pushback against the climate mullahs by buying our exclusive range of Steyn Vs The Stick trial merchandise, not to mention our new SteynOnline gift certificates and all the other fun stuff - books, CDs, mugs and more - over at the Steyn store. This week my campaign for free speech marked a grim milestone.
After denying there was any such thing for its first decade or so, the Big Climate enforcers now concede that there has, indeed, been a 17 year "pause" in global warming. Which, as I like to say, means that if your kid graduated from high school last month there has been no global warming since he left the maternity ward. On the brink of its third decade, how long will the global-warming "pause" continue? I dunno. But, however long it lasts, I don't entirely rule out climate mullah Michael E Mann's defamation suit against me outlasting it. Dr Mann uses legal threats to achieve his own "pause", using the sclerotic legal process to tie up his critics in procedural filmflam and silence criticism of his absurd and discredited science.
This week my own case entered its third year. Michael Mann is the creator of the iconic global-warming "hockey stick", the single most influential image in the campaign to sell Big Climate alarmism at the turn of the century. Two years ago, I wrote a 270 word post on National Review's Corner, commenting on a piece by Rand Simberg for the Competitive Enterprise Institute in which he made a perfectly reasonable point about Penn State University - that an institution corrupt enough to cover up for a serial child rapist would have no qualms about whitewashing academic fraud. The Penn State president forced to resign over Sandusky's crimes and currently facing 30 years in the slammer for obstruction of justice and other charges was the same president who presided over the same joke "investigation" that purported to absolve Michael Mann of any wrongdoing in the "Climategate" scandal. Mr Simberg was not the only one to make the obvious connection. The prestigious Chronicle of Higher Education also raised the question of issues with both the Sandusky and Mann investigations after former FBI director Louis Freeh's report raised serious concerns with the administration and board re its handling of the Sandusky matter. As Dr Peter Wood stated in the Chronicle re Mann, "Penn State has a history of treading softly with its star players. Paterno wasn't the only beneficiary."
So Mann's Big Tobacco attorney John Williams (whose previous celebrity client was Joe Camel) sent a whiny letter demanding that I take it back. National Review's editor Rich Lowry said "Get Lost" and Mann and his lawyers went jurisdiction-shopping. The DC Superior Court agreed to take the case, even though neither I nor Mann have ever lived or worked within the District of Columbia. Nor has Rand Simberg, who was also sued. I voluntarily submitted to the court's jurisdictio because I assumed that, what with this First Amendment thingie you have over here, that it would be dispensed with in short order. I've described Mann's worthless stick as a "fraud" or "fraudulent" in major publications on three continents for 13 years, including in Canada's biggest-selling news magazine, Australia's national newspaper, and Britain's biggest-selling broadsheet newspaper. Those comments pre-date "Climategate" or the other revelations of Dr Mann's appalling and thuggish conduct.
Michael Mann is an habitual liar. He lied about being a Nobel Laureate. He lied about it for years, on an industrial scale. He lied on his personal website, Penn State's website, in promotional materials for speeches, in media interviews, on the inside of his book jacket and even in his official court complaint, where he accuses me of the hitherto unknown crime of defamation of a Nobel Prize winner. In the same court filings, he lied about having been exonerated by multiple prestigious institutions on both sides of the Atlantic, including the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the University of East Anglia and even the Government of the United Kingdom. These lies â€“ just like his false Nobel claim â€“ have been just big and audacious enough to be recycled as if they were fact by lazy journalists and climate activists. But there is no factual basis for them: To take just one of the Climategate inquiries, the international panel of Lord Oxburgh's: in his court complaint, Mann claims to have been exonerated by Oxburgh; but in his book Mann says he wasn't covered by Oxburgh's investigation.
"SLAPP" is legal jargon for "strategic lawsuit against public participation" - that's to say, where litigious types like Mann use legal threats to take their opponents out of the game on public-policy matters, as Mann has done in British Columbia and Minnesota and elsewhere. Anti-SLAPP legislation was enacted in DC to put a swift end to these kinds of cases. But a combination of a poorly drafted law, an incompetent jurist and an unsatisfactory appeals process have made DC's anti-SLAPP law dysfunctional and capricious.
The incompetent jurist was one Natalia Combs Greene, as slapdash judge who among other idiocies in her judgments couldn't tell one defendant from another. She ruled against our anti-SLAPP motion to let the case move to trial. Which it would have done had not Mann hit the pause button by amending his complaint. By then I'd exposed his fraudulent claim to be a Nobel Laureate, and so he and his lawyers wished to rewrite their complaint to take out the false claim. Judge Combs Greene said okay, in essence giving him a do-over.
At that point, she decided the case (that her crappy court chose to accept) was all just a bit too complicated for her to handle so handed it off to Judge #2. Several convoluted procedures followed but the thrust of it is this - because the judge accepted the amended complaint after she ruled on the original complaint, the DC appeals court punted. The whole thing was moot and we had to start back at square one. Pause.
So, having seen what the geniuses in DC have devised as a "quick resolution" to free-speech cases, I decided: Screw it. If Mann and this joke court system want to litigate climate change, let's just get on with it and go to trial.
By February, I had answered his complaint and responded to Mann's request for discovery on me. But for Mann it's all "Discovery for me, but not for thee". I've laid my cards on the table but, for someone who claims to be unafraid of going to court, he shows no interest in getting there or even to discovery and deposition. I'm determined now to get him on the stand and under oath. That's why I filed my counterclaim against him.
It's now July â€“ exactly two years since my post â€“ and the next phase of this thing is legal arguments on DC's sloppily drafted anti-SLAPP law which the Court of Appeals has scheduled for November. I'm told any decision arising from that hearing will be February 2015 - which means we're at least a year away from trial. Year Four.
Mann has no interest in getting his hockey stick on the stand. If he did, he would have supported my motion asking Judge Weissberg to let Mann vs Steyn proceed directly to trial. He refused to do so.
He started this thing, and, despite his delays and obfuscations and attempts to obstruct discovery and delay deposition, he will get his day in court and wind up having to defend himself on the witness stand. Thanks to your support, we have a great legal team headed by Dan Kornstein, the man behind the most consequential piece of free-speech legislation enacted this century, and we've been interviewing prominent scientific witnesses tired of the climate of fear that Mann and the fellow members of his Clime Syndicate have imposed on their scientific field. This has only been possible because of the tremendous generosity of SteynOnline readers. If you're minded to make a purchase for our second anniversary, I understand the traditional gift is cotton - as in our exclusive line of Steyn Vs The Stick t-shirts. But don't stick to the official anniversary guidelines, or it could all get rather expensive by the time this case celebrates its silver anniversary. So, if you prefer, we also have books, CDs, mugs and gift certificates all at the Steyn store.