On this Thanksgiving eve, I am thankful for many things, but the sclerotic and depraved "justice" system of America's capital city is not one of them. Today marks the first anniversary of my trip to Washington for oral arguments at the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. So Thanksgiving and the Mann vs Steyn defamation suit are inextricably yoked for as long as this case continues, which on present form will be at least until the rising sea levels wash away the entire hellish DC jurisdiction, or the mullahs decide to nuke us.
I see that "the leader of the free world" said yesterday that the most "powerful rebuke" you could send to ISIS would be to go ahead and hold the Paris climate-change conference as scheduled. In that case, let's get ISIS reeling from a doubly "powerful rebuke" and have Judges Vanessa Ruiz, Corinne Beckwith and Catharine Easterly rouse themselves from their 365-day hibernation and issue their ruling, and really put the Islamic State on the ropes.
On November 25th 2014, I explained my broad attitude to this case during a chit-chat in the courtroom with Elizabeth Harrington of The Washington Free Beacon:
"No real scientist asks a court to litigate his science," Steyn said. "Dr. [Frederick] Banting didn't, Madame Curie didn't, Einstein didn't, Sir Isaac Newton didn't. Real scientists do not look to the District of Columbia Superior Court to decide the merits of their science. Dr. Mann does it because he's essentially a political activist, a political activist who uses science in service of his activism."
Just so. From the court hearing:
National Review's lawyer Michael A. Carvin argued that "no court in the history of Anglo-American jurisprudence has ever allowed scientific debates to go to a jury," that Mann's libel claims have no merit, and if the case continues it could set a dangerous precedent for free speech.
Well over three years ago now, Michael E Mann, the global-warming "hockey stick" inventor who falsely represents himself as a Nobel Laureate, filed a claim of damages for defamation against me and Rand Simberg, National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute in the DC Superior Court. I don't live or work in the District of Columbia. Nor does Mann. But I voluntarily submitted to the Court's jurisdiction on the careless assumption that if they were that eager to take the case they were presumably capable of adjudicating it in a timely manner.
In fairness to me, I was a lot younger then.
All four defendants filed a motion to dismiss under DC's brand new anti-SLAPP law. SLAPP means "a strategic lawsuit against public participation" - ie, someone sues someone else for the purpose of removing him from the public debate, as Mann has done over the years to other persons who disagree with him on climate policy. So this is a classic example of the kind of bogus, free-speech-chilling litigation DC's new anti-SLAPP law was designed to prevent.
Unfortunately, the first judge into whose hands it fell was Natalia Combs Greene, a lazy and slapdash jurist who in one spectacularly inept ruling managed to confuse me and National Review with Rand Simberg and CEI and misattributed statements and positions of one to the other not once but all the way through her order. This was characteristic of her low level of engagement: Judge Combs Greene's very first observation on the case was to complain about all the motions.
Nevertheless, she rejected the anti-SLAPP defense. Shortly thereafter, she announced that, as the case was all a bit complicated, she was withdrawing from it and sloughing it off to some other judge, but not before leaving it procedurally bollocksed: for much of the latter part of 2013 there were two trial judges ruling on different aspects of the same case, which would be a big no-no in any functioning jurisdiction.
Are your eyeballs bleeding yet? There's more.
My three co-defendants decided to file an interlocutory appeal on the anti-SLAPP biz. For the benefit of the 27 remaining US citizens who aren't practicing attorneys, an "interlocutory" appeal is one you make while the case is still in progress, rather than right at the end. Fascinating stuff. Unfortunately, it's unclear whether the DC anti-SLAPP law is interlocutorily appealable. As the representative of the district council testified, they'd like it to be that way, but its legislators don't have the authority to legislate that. Only the DC Court of Appeals has the authority to decide the matter, by hearing an appeal on whether the appeal is appealable.
So we were going to enjoy the electric frisson of being a "test case".
At this point, I volunteered to be Daniel Craig's stunt double for Blofeld's brain-drilling torture scene in Spectre. My three co-defendants, on the other hand, opted to be guinea pigs and to appeal. I chose not to join them. My reasoning was that, whatever the DC legislators might have intended and whatever the lethargic jurists of the Court of Appeals might eventually conclude and appellate courts beyond that (where too broadly drawn anti-SLAPP laws have been ruled unconstitutional), the DC anti-SLAPP law had in my own case entirely failed: a law intended to expedite matters had become just another excuse to drag things out for as long as possible.
So I took Doctor Fraudpants at his word. He says he's been grossly damaged by my writing, and emotionally traumatized to boot, and wants to go to trial to restore his good name. So do I. I responded to Mann's discovery requests almost two years ago, and am still waiting for him to respond to mine. So I said: Bring it on, let's rock'n'roll, etc. Or to put it more legalistically:
3. The charge that a man is a defamer is a serious one and profoundly damaging. With criminal charges, this nation provides a constitutional right to a speedy trial. It offers no such protections in civil court, even though to be accused as a defamer is certainly as damaging to one's reputation and honor as all but the most serious criminal charges. For an independent writer such as Defendant Steyn, this is especially so: His livelihood depends entirely on his reputation, and as long as this charge stains his character without being answered he is being damaged. As the accused, he asserts his right to confront his accuser in open court in a timely manner.
4. Likewise, the Plaintiff is owed the courtesy of being received straightway without delay. As this Court noted in its Order of January 22nd, the allegedly defamatory statements "go to the heart of scientific integrity", and thus to the heart of the Plaintiff's character. If the Court truly believes that, then Dr Mann is entitled to a timely trial that settles the truth of the matter wheresoever it be.
5. Because the charge of defamer is so damaging, Defendant Steyn has taken this process seriously. Unlike his Co- Defendants, who have not bothered to answer Plaintiff's Complaint, Steyn has filed his answers with the Court. On February 12th, he responded to Dr Mann's Requests for Discovery, and is looking forward to Plaintiff reciprocating.
Yeah, right. I'm still waiting. I'm Monica and Dr Mann is Clinton: he never reciprocates. Judge Weisberg, the second trial judge on the case, acknowledged the unfairness of the situation:
A continuing stay of discovery will impose the burdens of additional delay on all parties, but particularly on Plaintiff and Defendant Steyn, who has distanced himself from the other Defendants and expressed his desire to proceed expeditiously, even if that means the case would go forward only on Plaintiff's claims against Steyn and Steyn's counterclaim, with the other Defendants left behind. Nonetheless, it would be costly, inefficient, and duplicative to have two rounds of discovery: one round between Plaintiff and Defendant Steyn, and a second round between Plaintiff and the other Defendants. The court is unwilling to sever Mr. Steyn's case from the other Defendants to accommodate his desire to go it alone.
So I reluctantly settled back and waited for Judges Vanessa Ruiz, Corinne Beckwith and Catharine Easterly to accept the appeal, hear the arguments, and then issue a ruling on the usual leisurely timescale of "justice". In fact, just when you think the DC courts can't get any more malodorous, they do. All the other cases heard around last November were ruled on by the Court months ago. Their Honors have issued opinions on cases heard far later than this one was. Their most recent flurry of rulings, issued last week, included three cases heard two months ago in September.
But, when it comes to Michael E Fraudpants, a year after oral arguments Judges Ruiz, Beckwith and Easterly have yet to rule.
Very strange. In the intervening 365 days, I've had time to write an entire book on what real scientists think of Mann's science. I urge you to buy the book, not so much because I need the money for my end of the case (which I do) but because when a sclerotic and dysfunctional judicial system co-operates with a cynical and fraudulent plaintiff in turning the DC courts into a 21st century version of trial by ordeal, it is more important than ever to push back by disseminating as widely as possible the opinions of him that Mann is trying to suppress. So I hope you'll consider it for your loved ones' Christmas stockings as Yuletide looms. I don't entirely rule out finishing Volume Two before Their Ladyships (as we say in my cultural tradition) issue their opinion.
There are two possibilities for the delay:
1) Some wag in the courthouse bet the bench to see if they could come up with a Ruling Pause that lasts as long as the current Global-Warming Pause.
2) Alternatively, it may be that, on "climate change", they would like to find a way to allow Mann's suit to proceed ...but without entirely gutting DC's anti-SLAPP law for any non-climate clients who come down the pike. Evidently that's not the easiest thing to do - particularly when the ACLU, The Washington Post, NBC News, The Los Angeles Times and many others have all come out against Michael E Mann as a threat to free speech.
But the fact remains that the argument made in my motion of March 21st 2014 is as valid as ever. The only difference is that it is now November 25th 2015. There is no reason why Vanessa Ruiz, Corinne Beckwith and Catharine Easterly should need six times as long as their most recent rulings to decide this rather small legal point. And the fact that they do does nothing to bolster the credibility of whatever opinion eventually gets issued.
For my point, I remain confident that, thanks to my counter-suit, Mann cannot evade trial. That being so, I'd like to get on with it, as I told Betsy Rothstein of The Daily Caller one year ago:
Let's be clear: Steyn is not fleeing. He wants a trial. His legal team is headed up by the Yale bred Dan Kornstein.
Steyn insists Mann is waiting out the clock so that everyone he's suing will be good and broke if they ever get remotely near the prospect of a trial. The journalist, however, is plowing ahead, raising money and prepping himself for a trial he's dying to see happen...
"This is what is so appalling about it," said the journalist, who makes endless fun of the American legal system in a routine better fit for open mic night at a comedy club: "If this guy Dr. Mann feels he's being defamed then he should, like Oscar Wilde, get in court and have the manner settled. There is no right to a speedy trial...but you know, defamation is serious and more injurious to one's reputation than bouncing a check for $30 at the general store. It's more injurious than a parking ticket, than doing 45 in a 30 mile speed limit. [There's the right to a speedy trial], but not for defamation. Nuts to that."
Yeah, nuts upon nuts upon nuts to that. I want this thing in the hands of a jury, so that - guilty or not guilty - I can get on with my life. If I have damaged and emotionally traumatized Michael E Mann as much as his whiny complaint alleges, you'd think he'd want that, too.
So what's the betting? Volume Two of "A Disgrace To The Profession"? Or another six months of alleged deliberation from these genius jurists?
~If you'd like to support my pushback against the litigious Dr Mann, you can do so by swanking around town in our exclusive range of Steyn Vs The Stick trial merchandise, or by buying a loved one one of our new SteynOnline gift certificates or my new book or cat album over at the Steyn store.