On the vast placid frozen lake stretching unbroken beyond the horizon that is the Mann vs Steyn case there has been a small development. As our more elderly readers may recall, four years ago, before Barack Obama's re-election, climate mullah Michael E Mann sued me and various other parties for mocking his global warm-mongering in general and pooh-pooh-ing his "hockey stick" in particular.
That was in the year 2012. Notwithstanding that it's the most consequential free-speech case in half-a-century (as the ACLU, NBC, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune et al recognized in their amicus brief), in the DC courts it just sits there, with no discovery and no trial date. As today's Daily Caller headline has it:
Mark Steyn's Case Against Climategate Scientist Is Taking So Long A Key Witness Died
Technically it's the Climategate Scientist's case against me, but let's not get hung up on details (and I do have a counter-suit against the litigious Dr Mann). Michael Bastasch reports:
Lawyers representing conservative political commentator Mark Steyn have asked the D.C. Superior Court to expedite his case against climate scientist Michael Mann, mentioning a key witness died waiting for the trial to go to court.
"Something needed to be done to jumpstart this case, a case that threatens the most fundamental First Amendment freedoms," Dan Kornstein, Steyn's lawyer, said in a statement.
I'll return below to the actuarial aspects of DC's leisurely case-processing. But just to recap: I was born in Ontario. I live in New Hampshire. I have no connection whatsoever with the District of Columbia. As stated in our motion to the Court all those years ago:
He [Steyn] denies that this Court may exercise personal jurisdiction over his internet commentary, since that commentary was not purposefully directed at the District of Columbia. See, e.g., Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783 (1984). Nor is Mr Steyn subject to general jurisdiction in the District of Columbia." He voluntarily submitted to the Court's jurisdiction "solely to expedite this litigation as a matter of administrative convenience".
More fool me. This sclerotic court system can't expedite nuttin'. The case has now been stalled for two years in an interlocutory appeal. If you don't know what an "interlocutory appeal" is, consider yourself lucky. If you do know, you'll be thrilled to learn that one of the questions at the heart of this interlocutory appeal is whether, under the relevant DC law, the interlocutory appeal is even interlocutorily appealable at all. Fascinating! Adding to the fun, as I noted in my recent testimony to the US Senate, one of the judges hearing the interlocutory appeal, Vanessa Ruiz, takes up to three years to issue an opinion.
In most court systems, that would get a judge removed. But not in the District of Columbia.
No free man should be expected to languish at a court's convenience as the decade rolls by, so my attorneys have now filed a renewed request to the trial judge, Frederick Weisberg, to get the hell on with it - or, in legalese, a "Renewed Request for Expedited Hearing and to Lift Stay of Discovery". In it we remind His Honor of his words way back when:
There has been too much procedural delay already in this case.
That was April 2014, since when there have been another two years and two months of procedural delay. The torpor of this dysfunctional courthouse is such that the witness list is beginning to die off:
Many of Steyn's expert witnesses are emeritus professors and comparatively advanced in years, being of an age and eminence that enables them to stand against the bullying and intimidation that prevails in climate science. Therefore, the passage of time is not an unimportant thing. Indeed, one of Steyn's proposed witnesses has, in fact, died while this interlocutory appeal has been with the appellate court.
I don't entirely rule out that, at the present rate of progress, I myself will die before this lethargic bench brings the thing to trial. Which would be a pity - because then, as the heirs of Andrew Breitbart and Chris Kyle can tell you, a vengeful plaintiff is free to pursue your children for recompense, even though there is no longer a defendant to defend himself. So the sloth of jurists like Vanessa Ruiz has real-world consequences. And, even more pathetically, Judge Ruiz's sloth is on the matter of a law that's supposed to speed things up:
It is particularly absurd that an interlocutory ruling on a piece of legislation intended to expedite cases has now taken over two years and counting.
As my counsel, Dan Kornstein, says in our press release:
The passage of time since the appeal was argued in this case a year and a half ago while a stay of proceedings was in effect at the trial level has stalled a case whose very existence chills freedom of speech. To correct this situation and get the case moving, Mark Steyn filed this request to ask the trial court to lift the stay of proceedings even while the appeal is pending. We hope the trial judge grants the request.
I do, too. And I hope that Mann, who purports to want his day in court, will support me in attempting to hasten it. Down under, the great Jo Nova is doubtful:
What they cannot afford though is discovery.
So they can't afford to sue a guy like Mark Steyn.
This is about free speech and accountability of publicly funded scientists.
When it takes three years to get an interlocutory opinion, the issue is the court's credibility. My legal chums at Popehat and the Volokh Conspiracy seem to think that, when I gripe about the dysfunctional DC courts, I'm somehow showing disrespect for the justice system. Au contraire, it's because of my profound respect for justice that I would like this bizarre perversion thereof to return itself to the community of functioning Common Law jurisdictions. (While we're at it, this judge in the Trump University case seems all too typical.)
Well, we'll see. Meanwhile, how to kill all the passing time? From The Daily Caller:
Steyn had time to write a new book, "A Disgrace to the Profession," that compiles statements from scientists on how Mann's "hockey stick" graph damaged climate science.
It did indeed. As Andrew Lawton comments:
It is difficult to justify a delay that has gone on long enough for the defendant to publish a book about the plaintiff; but that very book underscores why any free speech lovers should be grateful that it's Mark Steyn in this fight rather than merely an entity prone to rolling over.
If you want to bring yourself up to speed on what's wrong with Mann's cartoon climatology, my book is a great place to start, as hundreds and hundreds of five-star Amazon reviewers agree.
As for the significance of the case, here's what I said to Ben Weingarten of The New Criterion:
And on the broader picture of free speech in climate science here's my opening statement to the US Senate:
I thank all those readers around the world who've kept me in the game this far, via our SteynOnline gift certificates and nifty range of highly fashionable trialwear. It will, alas, be retro-trialwear by the time the trial actually starts.
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