[UPDATE! Popehat takes a different view - with which not just crazy ol' me but my crackerjack legal team disagree.]
As super-attentive readers will know, re the upcoming Mann vs Steyn trial of the century, I was not part of my fellow defendants' appeal to the DC Appeals Court to rule on whether DC's anti-SLAPP law is appealable - because I reckoned it would all prove a waste of time and, therefore, we might as well get the hell on with the trial.
However, I confess that even I did not foresee that, amidst all the usual proceduralist bollocks of American jurisprudence, the entire anti-SLAPP law would be blown sky-high by Mahmoud Abbas' son Yasser. I hasten to add that I mean that metaphorically. He's a litigious type, after all. But that's what Yasser Abbas and the genius jurists of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals (not the same as the DC Court of Appeals) have done. You can read the judges' decision here, and Yasser's lawyer's view thereof here.
When my co-defendants' appeal about whether the appeal is appealable started, the legal blogger Popehat lectured me - a tad condescendingly, touchier types than I might feel - on my failure to appreciate that, in the American legal system, "the proceduralist tail wags the substantive dog":
A tremendous amount of time and money is being spent, and this has dragged on since 2012. I understand Mr. Steyn's vocal frustration. My point is this: procedural issues can be dry, obscure, difficult to understand, annoying, and completely transformative of the way the court system works for real people. A win on this procedural issue for the defendants is a very important victory for all defendants in DC seeking to vindicate their free speech rights, because it gives a defendant two bites of the apple under the anti-SLAPP statute.
Popehat was so fascinated by this leisurely dawdle to judgment that he failed to spot Yasser Abbas roaring up past us on the shoulder. As a result, the proceduralist tail has swallowed the dog, and the entire apple, and there may well be no DC anti-SLAPP law, not in any meaningful sense. And so "the way the court system works for real people" will have been completely transformed ...by a son of Mahmoud Abbas named in honor of Yasser Arafat. Perhaps, in the manner of "Megan's Law" et al, we could rename what's left of the anti-SLAPP statute "Yasser's Law".
DC justice is nonsense from soup to nuts: It's not a state court, it's not federal. It's a little bit statesque, a little bit federalish, but you're never quite sure which of its bi-swinger tendencies is in the ascendant until the appeals guys weigh in. God knows how Popehat and the Volokh bloggers can write about this joint with a straight face. Good thing it's not an important jurisdiction like the capital city of a major developed nation or anything...
I'll have more to say about this on the morrow. But the practical effect may well be that the last two-and-a-half years since the original motion to dismiss on anti-SLAPP grounds have been a complete waste of the aforementioned time and money. If so, perhaps the DC courts would care to reimburse us for all the anti-SLAPP hearings they've held and anti-SLAPP appeals they've heard only to discover that they're all illegal.
Oh, dear. I fear what Popehat deplores as "Mr Steyn's vocal frustration" may be showing...
On a more positive note, Mann can't evade a trial date forever, and when he does I'm confident we'll win. But, if you're just jerking around (as Mann is) because you understand that for a defendant the process is the punishment, DC was certainly a smart choice. As I always say, this case will last longer than the "global warming" pause...
Speaking of which, there's no better time to pick up a copy of Climate Change: The Facts. It features me and and some of the world's most eminent scientists and sharpest commentators on the science, the policies and the politics of climate. Personally autographed copies of the book are available from the Steyn store, but if you can't wait that long you can get it in eBook format via Kindle, Nook or Kobo, and be reading it in the next 90 seconds. Or bring along your copy to the trial and I'll be happy to sign it in the courtroom.
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