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Judge Sanctions Shoemaker

I previously wrote about Clifford Shoemaker, the Virginia attorney with the flexible ethical standards and his quest to shut down blogger Kathleen Seidel, here in Subpoena Sleaze and here in Take That Ass Hat.

Sometimes… once and a while… a judge will look at a sleazy lawyer’s behavior and actually hold him accountable. This is one of those times. David Ardia at the Citizen Media Law Project has a great analysis of the Rule 11 order.

The best excerpt from the order is here:

Mr. Shoemaker made no attempt to avoid imposing an undue burden or expense on Ms. Seidel. To the contrary, I find that he sought to burden her by requiring production of every scrap of paper related to autism, her web site, her tax returns, and her communications with the government. He improperly imposes a requirement to create documents, e.g., a list of “names of persons helping, paying or facilitating . . . these endeavors.” The documentation sought is exhaustive. . . .

Shoemaker has not offered a shred of evidence to support his speculations. He has, he says, had his suspicions aroused because she has so much information. Clearly he is unfamiliar with the extent of the information which a highly-competent librarian like Ms. Seidel can, and did, accumulate. If Shoemaker wanted to know if Ms. Seidel was in part supported by or provided information by Bayer, he could have inquired of Bayer or limited the Seidel subpoena to that information. Instead he issued the subpoena calling for production of documents and a deposition on the day before he stipulated to dismiss the underlying suit with prejudice. His failure to withdraw the subpoena when he clearly knew that suit was over is telling about his motives. His efforts to vilify and demean Ms. Seidel are unwarranted and unseemly. (source)

Ardia sums it up nicely here:

Shoemaker and his client have a right to disagree with Seidel and, if they think they’ve been the victims of a conspiracy, to sue her. But they don’t have a right to misuse the legal system to coerce a critic to “shut up.” (source)

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