Standing Up For Free Speech: Thanks For Responding To The Popehat Signal!

Effluvia

Last week I sent out the Popehat Signal asking for pro bono help from a Maryland attorney in support of a political blogger who was seeking to preserve his anonymity in a SLAPP suit.

Many people kindly retweeted it and blogged it and passed it along, and several stand-up attorneys inquired to see if they might be able to help. Eventually we found the right match. Now, more can be told.

The blogger is "Aaron Worthing," who currently blogs at Allergic to Bull. You can read about the case at his blog, and read about the motion he has just filed here. I will refrain from discussing the specifics; discover them for yourselves. Suffice it to say that I find the plaintiff in the SLAPP suit quite evil.

Aaron was caught in a ridiculous Catch-22: he was capable of drafting an opposition to the plaintiff's motion seeking to unmask him, but he could not file it without unmasking himself. The dilemma was solved when Elizabeth Kingsley of Harmon, Curran, Spielberg + Eisenberg, LLP in Washington, D.C. answered the Popehat Signal and stepped in for the limited purpose, as I understand it, of petitioning the court to allow Aaron Worthing to file his papers seeking to preserve his anonymity without breaching that anonymity. (Aaron drafted, and is responsible for, the substantive motion to quash subpoenas linked above.) Aaron may post more specifics about that soon. [Edit: here is his post about resolving the Catch-22.]

Beth specializes in representing non-profits and political campaigns, but quickly offered to step in here, to Aaron's gratitude and satisfaction. Beth and Harmon Curran acted in the best tradition of attorney pro bono work. As I've frequently argued, such generosity and civic spirit is essential to protecting freedom of expression in America from threats of all sorts. Beth has my admiration and thanks for helping, as does her firm.

So. What can you do for free speech?

By the way, Aaron is to the right of me, and has written for blogs even more firmly to the right of me. We undoubtedly disagree vigorously about many subjects. I don't have the privilege of knowing Beth well enough to know her political stances, but it would not surprise me in the least if she differs from Aaron as well. But that doesn't matter. You know why.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

16 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 29, 2011 @9:01 pm

    Props to Beth, and should I have need of legal council in that area, I shall be sure to contact her (assuming I can pay – if not, I'll bug Aaron).

    Also, I just want to share the following phrase, which should be made famous: "double-secret exoneration".

    Best of luck to Aaron, may his words carry the day.

    note: I am good friends with Aaron, so my opinion MAY be prejudiced, but the enemy in this fight is one of the worst people living on the planet.

  2. Aaron Worthing  •  Dec 29, 2011 @9:14 pm

    > By the way, Aaron is to the right of me…

    That is because good Americans believe in certain baseline values, among them is a basic belief in democracy and freedom of speech.

    We recognize that there is a right way and a wrong way to fight our political battles–by persuasion and not thuggery. So maybe we don't agree on the exact budget for a given year or something more substantive, but we have that vital baseline of shared values. And for that, I greatly appreciate Ken's help, and Beth's.

  3. Ken  •  Dec 29, 2011 @10:12 pm

    By the way, I'll offer one substantive comment:

    By the way, as someone who has practiced federal criminal law for 16 years, the entire concept of a secret exoneration is utterly laughable. I could write several paragraphs why, but . . . just no.

  4. BP  •  Dec 29, 2011 @10:17 pm

    Phenomenal brief, Aaron. I'll check back eventually for the update, but I'd worry more about this if I thought there was even the slightest chance you don't prevail. Next project, promulgating procedural rules for an anonymous party to make a claim for, and collect, attorneys' fees.

  5. SPQR  •  Dec 29, 2011 @10:29 pm

    Of course, I spotted immediately that you were talking about Aaron, having been a regular among places he's blogged and knew about the Kimberlin fiasco. There is no doubt that Kimberlin is evil.

  6. Aaron Worthing  •  Dec 29, 2011 @10:36 pm

    scott, Ken

    Well, i figured i would use an animal house reference to highlight how stupid the secret exoneration theory was.

  7. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 29, 2011 @10:40 pm

    No Ken, please do write a couple of paragraphs…

    I'm sure they would be funny as hell. :)

  8. Patrick  •  Dec 30, 2011 @5:35 am

    For context, this is the man who is suing Worthing, claiming that his reputation has been damaged by what Worthing writes.

    Think of it as though Worthing were being sued by Bill Ayers or Eric Robert Rudolph, to name two more famous members of the species.

  9. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 30, 2011 @9:49 am

    Ayers at least has the benefit of not having been convicted for blowing people and places up.

  10. David  •  Dec 30, 2011 @10:41 am

    Wow. When you said the plaintiff was evil I thought you meant he had filed a blatant and damaging SLAPP suit, not attempted to murder people.

  11. Ken  •  Dec 30, 2011 @3:38 pm

    I understand that I may be the subject of a RICO suit because of this.

    I'll try to let y'all know how that turns out.

  12. Harry Lime  •  Dec 30, 2011 @4:17 pm

    Wow, I had never heard of this guy before. What a disturbed individual. I find it surprising that there is not a Wikipedia article for Mr. Kimberlin. Well, kudos to you and Ms. Kingsley for doing the right thing here.

  13. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 30, 2011 @5:19 pm

    Harry, there WAS a wiki on him, but it was deleted at the same time as the damages hearing for the lawsuit he filed against Seth Allen.

  14. Dustin  •  Jan 3, 2012 @9:08 pm

    Late to the party, but I really appreciate Beth stepping up for freedom of speech, and to Ken for doing this not because he actually agrees with the speech itself, but because he believes in the freedom.

    It's really admirable.

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