Protecting The Free Speech of Censors: The Crystal Cox Saga

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96 Responses

  1. SarahW says:

    Cox needs a permanent home in an institution, the kind that doesn't exist anymore. Narcissism is a feature of many forms of mental illness and not just limited to personality disorder. Once upon a time she might have been declared incompetent or put away. You'd think at least she could be barred from controlling websites as a kind of community diversion senetnce (for extortion) or filing pro-se lawsuits.

  2. Paul Beard says:

    Errata on the the number $2,5000 per month should probably be fixed.

    Glad to see the law is working correctly

  3. AlphaCentauri says:

    I AM WHAT I AM.

    And we want you to stay that way, enough to actually read the footnotes. :)

  4. L Nettles says:

    Jonathan Lee Riches says: that girl is crazy.

  5. Whether or not it would be insensitive to call Cox herself "batshit crazy", this kook sees nothing wrong with so describing her voluntary acts.

  6. OngChotwI says:

    I sense a conspiracy.. I showed up at this place when you were writing about Charles Carreon (sp?) and now you've brought up yet another person that sounds batshit crazy with the initials C.C. Are you sure this isn't CC's wife suing under a nom de plume? P.S. My ISP thanks you for all the links.. I'll have gone over this plan's lousy caps by the time I make it through all of 'em. *snicker*

  7. Hannah says:

    That was worth every single second reading. Not just for the warm-fuzzies conclusion, but for making everything else in my life seem totally normal when compared to someone that awesomely batshit crazy. Thank you, Ken, thank you.

  8. Reilly says:

    Ken, small edit — "Judge Hernandez later issued a preliminary injunction transferring the domains to Randazza. Judge Hernandez repeated her finding that Cox was engaged in extortion:"

    I believe you meant Judge Navarro

  9. AlphaCentauri says:

    This is still my favorite Cox filing:

    This is my second filing of this Motion to Relate Rakofsky v. The Internet."

    omg, that is hilarious. It must have stuck in her craw that someone else was considered more vexatious and batshit-crazy than she.

  10. Bruce says:

    I'm going to be a concern troll here and ask:
    "What about people that get talked about by a crazy, or sued by a crazy?" Gertz, it seems to me, means that there's literally nothing they can do about it. They lose their reputation, thus losing commerce by means of Google being filled up with rants, and they also lose money by fighting off bogus lawsuits. There's court fees at least, even if lawyers defend them pro bono. So if they win, they still lose.
    I guess that's reality, I suppose. Very like having a crazy person living next door…

  11. I tried to get her to sue me. I created a satire site and had an artist create cartoons of her blowing goat balloons and such. I wrote her physical letters and sent them to her PO Box. Ironically, she got my letters, so the PO Box was in good standing at some point. She responded to me in email thanking me for my support. She never sued (that I am aware of).

    I'd registered crystalcoxblows.com, crystalcoxsucks.com, and fuckcrystalcox.com and offered to exchange them for the Randazza sites. If she'd get out of the Randazza family business I would get out of the Cox family business. She never directly addressed my content again (that I remember) and I lost interest. It's no fun fighting someone that ignores your. For a while I would get "Cox Update" emails, but then they stopped.

    I let all of the domains other than crystalcoxblows.com expire (I think). I plan to let this one go too.

    People in my life pointed out that she was mentally ill and needed help, not internet mockery, which kind of took the fun out of trying to poke her.

    Anyway, the crazy goes all the way down and she reminds me too much of Shuler. It's a damn shame there isn't a way to get these people help.

  12. Adam B says:

    Fantastic piece. Re the "batshit-crazy rule," see also Dimeo v Tucker Max (E.D. Pa. 2006) at fn 14:

    As for the remaining two, under Pennsylvania law, a court must view allegedly defamatory statements "in context" to determine the "'effect the [writing] is fairly calculated to produce, the impression it would naturally engender, in the minds of the average persons among whom it is intended to circulate.'" Savitsky v. Shenandoah Valley Pub. Corp., 566 A.2d 901, 904 (Pa. Super. 1989) (citing Baker v. Lafayette College, 532 A.2d 399 (1987) and quoting Corabi v. Curtis Publishing Co., 273 A.2d 899, 907 (1971)). After viewing the tuckermax.com message boards, which are read by people using screen names like "Jerkoff," "Drunken DJ," and "footinmouth," the intended audience could not mistake the site for the New York Times. In short, it palpably is not serious.

  13. Jamie says:

    Fantastic article, Ken.

    I don't know how you go head to head with the crazies, write articles like this, and still hold down a job.

  14. Ivraatiems says:

    @Jamie

    Who says he does?

    @Ken

    On a scale of one to accordingly, how is Crystal Cox governing herself?

  15. Joe Pullen says:

    Epic post and nicely done. Bat-shit crazy rule. I'm going to use that sometime. I remember back when Randazza received the injunction and domains that were to be transferred to him also, as I recall, ended up transferred by Cox to one Melody Mayers aka Monica Foster. I remember digging that up for Randazza – what seems like ages ago. I note Foster is still her go to buddy and appears to be just as "crazy'.

  16. MCB says:

    Ken,

    Do you think Padrick's attorneys blundered by allowing a jury instruction that did not include recklessness? It seems like it might be over aggressive to me. In a case like that the Jury is liable to be pretty pissed off. So long as you can provide some kind of case for recklessness, it would seem like you have a chance. If you get a jury instruction without recklessness, on the other hand, you are in a tight spot on appeal. Maybe that's just the clarity of hindsight.

  17. jdgalt says:

    What this appears to boil down to is that you feel Cox's malicious and defamatory statements deserve First Amendment protection merely because they sound so insane that nobody with a brain in his head would believe them (unless perhaps he saw one of them out of context).

    I fail to see how this helps anybody who deserves it. I certainly have no use for the "right" to publicly accuse innocent people of unspeakable crimes, then say it was just a joke and walk away scot-free, so I wouldn't lose anything if Cox had not won that so-called "right".

  18. Ken White says:

    @MCB: there are few things more difficult than not overreaching when a judge is willing to give you a good ruling. Wont throw the first stone on that.

  19. Elizabeth McClellan (@popelizbet) says:

    @SarahW : Cox could still be declared incompetent, but I don't think the public is privy to enough information to know whether that would actually be legal. Just being a vexatious litigant is not, and should not be, enough for a court to declare you incompetent. Much less to commit you against your will to an institution long-term, as used to be done. Courts already have the power in extreme cases to require that vexatious litigants obtain court approval before filing further lawsuits. (At one time, WBC patriarch Fred Phelps was under such an order in Kansas.) Even that is a major decision for a court to make, because the right to access the courts should not be lightly taken away. I'm not sure the parameters of that mechanism in the relevant jurisdictions, but if it's available this would seem a prime case to apply it.

    Suggesting that someone ought to have even more rights than that taken away – which is what a conservatorship or institutionalization would entail – for being mentally ill and filing vexatious lawsuits is to suggest a terrible precedent, ripe for abuse. Just as a ruling protecting Cox's free speech rights protects everyone's free speech rights, even those of us who don't file meritless lawsuits and troll by involving people's spouses and minor children, decisions that "this person is crazy and annoying so let's legally take most of their autonomy in every area of their life away" would set a terrible precedent for people who are not Cox. Extortion is a crime for which she could be imprisoned. Being crazy and annoying is not a crime and doesn't represent the kind of risk to self and others for which we declare people incompetent or lock them up in facilities against their will – and that's a good thing, categorically, for all of us, even if it means some vexatious litigants get to waste judicial resources as a result.

  20. @Jamie: it's a conspiracy.

  21. Phe0n1x says:

    Is it just me or did she almost go full Carreon?

  22. Corollax says:

    You made my night, Ken. I love to hear a story where everything turns out well, and we are all better for the resolution of this case.

    Your presentation only makes it all the better. Thank you.

  23. SIV says:

    Souplantation

    I thought I was going to learn a new word. Instead I learned there are 3 within a half hour's drive.

  24. JohnC says:

    Meh. Wake me when she's filed her 300th federal complaint. (See Ajuluchuku, Amanda.)

  25. MCB says:

    Ken,

    Yeah, I guess so. I wonder if this will go to trial again. I don't know the facts beyond what's here, but it seems like the extortion stuff makes a possible case for recklessness to me. There is probably no way to collect any judgment, however.

  26. Noscitur a sociis says:

    Marc chose wisely by proceeding narrowly — he didn't seek to capture domains that were on their face critical or satirical, like marcrandazzasucks.com.

    The injunction transfers (at, as is apparent from his complaint, Marc Randazza's request) the domains marcrandazzasucks.com (i.e. the one you specifically said he wasn't complaining about), fuckmarcrandazza.com, marcrandazzaisalyingasshole.com, marcrandazzaparody.com, exposemarcrandazza.com, <randazzalegalgroupsucks.com, trollmarcrandazza.com, hypocritemarcrandazza.com, marcrandazzaviolatedmylegalrights.blogspot.com, arcrandazzaegomaniac.blogspot.com, <marcrandazza-asshole.blogspot.com, and marcrandazzaliedaboutcrystalcox.blogspot.com.

    Thoughts?

  27. Narad says:

    You may, with caution, visit Bernstein's site and draw further conclusions.

    I was about to say that the comment here was about all I need, having foolishly gone looking for some technical details of his frothing, but then proceeded to his site, which sadly eschews the <blink> tag (which has a respectable backstory)…. Does his "Iviewit zoom technology" (i.e., the "Phokus1" applet, which last two words will now no longer be a Googlewhack) actually work for anyone? It's only throwing ClassNotFoundException here.

  28. Albert says:

    @Noscitur a sociis: Ken's point is not about which sites Marc Randazza did or did not seek to capture; it is about which reason Marc did or did not present when seeking to capture the sites. IOW, Ken did not write "[Marc] didn't seek to capture marcrandazzasucks.com".

    Besides, the WIPO decision does not list marcrandazzasucks.com as having been submitted to WIPO by Randazza.

  29. frosty840 says:

    Seems to be a typo of "herout" in "her out of pocket expenses" in one of the quotes. Might need a correction or a sic. Or it could be a spelling I'm not aware of. Whatever.
    Brain hurty. Too much wordings.

  30. That Anonymous Coward says:

    So I am curious…
    If they had brought to light her "offers" to retract the statements for cash payments, would that have made a difference in how the courts might have ruled? Should they have taken a page from he I don't name and tailored their complaints narrowly on the issue that her actions were merely to seek payments for her silence?
    On the 1 hand she has 1st Amnd. rights to speak freely, but if the main goal of doing these things is merely to try and force payments to herself does this cloud the issue. The speech then isn't her thoughts, but calculated statements to get a target to decide if paying for her silence is worth it.

    I think she is a complete loon, but she has a right to make statements and no one should take that right away simply because some dislike it. (oh hey that happened to me)
    But once they cross the line into "that's a nice X you have, it would be a shame if something happened to it" does/should the bar change?
    Where is the line between extortion & merely trying to get change?

  31. Mark says:

    Ken, most any scientist is used to reading "as shown in Figure 4", flipping 2 pages to find Figure 4, realizing that it doesn't make any sense without Supplementary Table S2 and Figure S3, going to the online version of the journal for those, entering in one's university login to get through the paywall, and finally understanding what that original sentence was about. Footnotes and a single appendix are not that strange.

  32. Speed says:

    Corollax wrote, "I love to hear a story where everything turns out well, and we are all better for the resolution of this case."

    The objects of Crystal Cox's schemes and not better for having been attacked. On balance, we all would be better if it had never happened. The outcome confirmed the pre-conflict status but it was costly.

    Bastiat's Parable of the Broken Window

  33. Dave Z says:

    This is one of the best reads I've read, and it's just the start of 2014!

  34. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    Tangent;

    The Skokie business still bothers me. I'm grouch enough that I wish there had been some way to rule that, since the Neo-Nazi twits were clearly marching to provoke a fight they were free to march, but would have to deal with the fight on their own. But I also think that assassinating a politician should be partially protected as political speech and punishable as littering.

    Probably not really practical.

  35. ugh… need to read fully though on first glance (or first chapter…too tired to read chapter 2 yet) the Appeal court made the correct decision and kudos go to Mr Volokh and the legal team for both winning the case and having the mental stamina to represent the batshit crazy one.

    Oh and I bet she thought we all here in TumblingCox land forgot about her.. Seriously!

  36. SirWired says:

    So, now that the overbroad ruling has been taken care of, will Volkoh now drop her like the radioactive batshit-crazy hot-potato she is, or is he obligated to see this farce through to it's inevitable final conclusion?

  37. Ken White says:

    @Noscitur a sociis: You quoted from a comment about the WIPO action, which carries one legal standard, then contrasted with what he was seeking in the federal civil action, which carried a different standard. The two actions have different legal standards and theories.

  38. Ygolonac says:

    Ahhh, just the thing for a holiday Monday, when I won't have to schedule work around examining the details of professional-level insanity. (As opposed to the hobbyist-grade commonly seen on the Internet.)

  39. ZarroTsu says:

    Man, the biggest thing I take away from this whole thing is that there's an astounding market in selling websites by the name of "xxxsucks.com", and the crazy people who want to own such sites for use in extortion.

    Is it extortion itself, or accessory, to create such sites solely to sell the domain names to the crazy people (whom apparently have limitless amounts of money to begin with)? Would it be any better if the selling rates were only listed in bitcoins?

  40. Blah says:

    She seems legitimately mentally ill.

  41. Ryan says:

    This is easily one of my favourite pieces that has ever appeared on Popehat. Wonderfully well-written, witty, and full of intrigue.

    What I would like to know, however, is this: HOW IN THE EVER-LOVING BLAZES HAS THIS WOMAN NOT BEEN CRIMINALLY CHARGED WITH EXTORTION?

    Of course, that brings me to this question (and a bit of my own ignorance about the US):

    However, her complaints include both criminal claims (which, of course, Cox cannot lawfully bring)

    Can Americans who are not police officers or otherwise affiliated with law enforcement not lay criminal charges to be taken over by the authorities? If so, I guess that explains why she hasn't been prosecuted for extortion. Also, that's weird if indeed it is the case.

  42. Albert says:

    @Ryan: I suspect that, like in France, in the US criminal charges must be laid by someone representing the State (in France it is the procureur, not sure about the US name: prosecutor? District Attorney?) whereas civil charges are laid by the plaintiff.

  43. Ken White says:

    @Ryan: Some states allow citizens to initiate a criminal complaint, though generally a prosecutor must eventually decide whether to prosecute the case or drop it.

    However, what Cox is trying to do here is file a civil suit alleging violation of federal criminal statutes. She can't do that because, as the relevant cases put it, federal criminal statutes do not create a "private right of action" — that is, a basis for a private civil suit. There are a few exceptions where the statute explicitly creates both a crime and a private right of action.

  44. Dan T. says:

    If you're really seeking to engage in noncommercial commentary about somebody/something (instead of extort money for it), then xxxsucks.org would be more logical.

  45. MrSpkr says:

    @Ryan Regarding your question:

    "What I would like to know, however, is this: HOW IN THE EVER-LOVING BLAZES HAS THIS WOMAN NOT BEEN CRIMINALLY CHARGED WITH EXTORTION?"

    - my guess is the scarcity of resources from the U.S. Attorney's offices, the FBI and the federal judiciary. "War on Drugs!" and "War on Terrorism!", you know.

    Though, to be honest, there wasn't a lot of prosecution of this kind of crap even before the "War on Drugs!" and "War on Terrorism!".

  46. SarahW says:

    Elizabeth McClellan (@popelizbet)

    I am one of those reactionaries who think obviously mentally ill people with delusions about their place in the world and relation to others around them SHOULD have their rights curtailed and should have some form of guardianship. I know how strongly advocates for the mentally ill prefer limits to liberty of a sick person unless they have committed criminal acts, with standing around being crazy not being one of them.

    And if, in that last sentence, I agree with the last bit, I don't agree with the first. Its enough for me that they are delusional. Mental illness isn't just a state of mind, its a true organic condition that prevents the individual from interacting in rational ways with their environment.

    That's enough to restrict liberties before they start hurting other people or get hurt.

    I live in the real world and don't see my old-fashioned notions returning to favor. However there is another middle ground and that is aggressively pursuing any available penalty or restriction available when the ill person causes damage through their crazy acts; E.g., charge her with extortion. Not as a tort, as a crime. As a form of negotiated sentence or community diversion of sentence, and instead of tossing her in jail, bar her from pro-se lawsuits, force her into treatment, take away her means to extort. She's a public nuisance and there ought to be some way to check that nuisance.

  47. Dan T. says:

    It would be somewhat ironic if, someday, the appeal decision in her favor gets cited against her in defeating her own claims of defamation against other Internet commenters. This would, however, require one of her cases to get past the summary dismissal for failure to state a claim.

  48. Shane says:

    Ok I read that entire post and had to go to the bathroom several times, play with my cat, take out the garbage, make the bed, clean the windows, but I read it.

    I have got to say that my odyssey with Popehat has been THE most informative and learning experience that I have ever had. I am starting to get the guts of "law". I must say it is as other things that I have delved semi-deeply into, not what everyone says it is. I am amazed and astounded at how (in my shallow understanding) much it makes sense especially when given a good guide to it's subtlety.

  49. David C says:

    The best lesson here is that courts need to rule based on the law and not based on whether they like a particular defendant or plaintiff. Even if, as a judge, you think Cox is liable, you should not give instructions to the jury that are more unfavorable to her than warranted. Because one of two things can happen on appeal: you get overturned and have to go through another trial, or you get upheld and you've just restricted the free speech rights of everyone.

  50. Toddsler says:

    Thanks for the post. I very much enjoy these extensive summaries you put together for some of these ongoing…situations.

  51. Matt says:

    It's not clear to me how a false statement could be both "on a subject of purely private interest" and actually harmful to the reputation of the subject.

    While harder, Ken, I don't think it's impossible – if I were to allege that a guy likes to dress up in women's underwear and get whipped by his best friend while they both watch BDSM porn (or something in that vein), that would be private interest (what one does in their bedroom) and (conceivably) actually harmful to their reputation (who really wants to do business with/can trust kids around/etc a "prevert"*).

    *Yes, I *am* going for the Strangelove reference here, not a typo ;)

    (Edited: Decided to genericize)

  52. Kevin says:

    When I first started out as an attorney, I represented a government contractor who handled medicare processing. I came across a plaintiff who was eerily similar to Ms. Cox who alleged all sorts of conspiracies that resulted in her medicare claims being denied. She was so crazy as to file a petition for cert with the US Supreme Court.

    At first I thought to myself, if I could orchestrate an introduction of these two litigants, maybe they will each sue each other into oblivion. Then I realized that they would probably join forces to become even more vexatious.

    In the end, the article left me with a chilling thought – how many litigants are there like this out there? As others have pointed out, many of the defendants did nothing to attract the attention of Ms. Cox. It is frightening to think that this could happen to anyone.

  53. Raucous Indignation says:

    I will note that while "Bat-Shit Crazy" is a commonly used and wonderfully colorful and descriptive term, it is a misnomer. Rigorous scientific study has repeatedly demonstrated that the excreta from all species of the order of Chiroptera has a high degree of rationality. Far higher than, say, your average libertarian.

  54. David W says:

    @SarahW

    people with delusions about their place in the world and relation to others around them SHOULD have their rights curtailed

    I hope you can see how this would be abused?

    If I knew of a way to enact a law that would only be used as I intended, I could possibly agree with you. But I'm confident, in practice, a law like this would result in some crazies being locked up, and also a whole lot of non-crazies who got in the way of someone with power. Maybe on the basis of their 'paranoid delusions of persecution' for some extra irony.

  55. Elizabeth McClellan (@popelizbet) says:

    @SarahW : Ah. So, Constitutions for some, miniature asylums for others?

    People with mental illness don't forfeit their right to autonomy just because you find their behavior annoying or disturbing. Plenty of people don't interact with their environment in what I consider rational ways. That's not enough to take the person's autonomy away. And if you make that the rule? There will be people who exploit it to get rid of people they don't like whose behavior is arguably a sign of mental illness, by finding a doctor willing to say (for a large enough paycheck) that they are sick, rather than just obnoxious.

    And given that even people who are mentally ill with delusional features can quite often be treated, you're setting everyone who does get treatment up for abuse as well. "There's already evidence that you're delusional. Step out of line and see what happens." Because of course an abuser would never exploit the court system to insist that they should have guardianship over their victim, to ensure the victim takes their meds…no, that would never ever happen. Not like abusers don't already threaten mentally ill people with court involvement to control them and threaten that no one will believe the victim because they're mentally ill. Nothing wrong with making that easier, right?

    Nah. I'll take our current system – which still trends unfavorably toward locking people up who aren't a present danger to themselves or others – over a system that has even less regard for the idea that mentally ill people aren't second class citizens who only have the rights we say they should have when we say they should have them and if they don't annoy the powers that be too much. I much prefer a world where someone has to show actual risk of harm to self or others before they can restrict someone's rights over "well, you're delusional, it's only a matter of time, preemptively stripping you of your rights is for the greater good."

    I'm reminded of Memphis' favorite local character, Prince Mongo. Mongo runs for mayor when he's never going to win, gets into pissing matches with his neighbors over yard decor, and insists he has contact with aliens (because according to him he is one). In decades, though, he's never hurt anyone, unless you argue that nonviolent neighbor conflict over decorations and noise is harm sufficient to strip people of their rights. Some people would say he's a public nuisance. Others find him delightful. Who should have the right to stop him from living his life, when he hasn't done anything unlawful or annoying that perfectly sane people don't do?

    Should I be able to have Tom Cruise locked up because he believes in aliens and advocates harmful beliefs that will result in someone getting hurt? Of course I shouldn't. As repugnant as it is for him to advocate against treatment for postpartum for reasons which might very well prove to be legitimately delusional thought patterns (if Cruise were to ever see a doctor who doesn't think that psychiatry was invented to make people sick and gay for profit and control), that's his right, and I shouldn't be able to take to the courts based on perceived but attenuated possible future harm he might do. Some people think all religious belief is delusional. "Your Honor, what if this person's belief that at any time the world might end and they will be judged for what they have done, failed to do, or even thought without acting on, causes them to hurt people?! After all, most of the mass suicides come from people with doomsday beliefs. Think of the children!" Nope. Not okay.

    What you suggest as the middle path is already in place in large part. There's no insanity defense to extortion of which I'm aware, and as I mentioned, you don't have to be delusional to be declared a vexatious litigant and limited in filing lawsuits. Plea bargains can include requiring someone to take medication; although I find that revolting, it's an option. Everything you want can be accomplished without creating a tool for abuse of the actually or arguably mentally ill such as the one you say you prefer.

  56. Sinij says:

    I am surprised and pleased that courts protected speech to this degree. As a non-lawyer type I'd have guessed that Cox's fabricated claims would have state-sponsored consequences.

    Is this in a way "she is too crazy to make a factual statement" defense?

    In that case, I am glad that Ken stopped murdering babies for profit.

    Please don't take my autonomy away.

  57. Roland says:

    She should not be prosecuted. There are enough crazies in prison as it is, and it's a poor and expensive way to handle the problem.

    http://www.sociology.org/content/vol003.004/thomas_d.html

    Mental hospitals were often horrible places, and commitment of "eccentrics" was often abused. Reagan-era tax cuts along with reductions in "safety nets" and some poor judicial decisions caused emptying & abandonment of many asylums. Society went from one extreme to another. Many of these mass shooting incidents could have been prevented by providing some kind of asylum commitment. It's a difficult question, but bad cases make bad law.

    Has she at least lost her real estate license yet?

  58. AlphaCentauri says:

    Cox annoys people but isn't dangerous, and she's batshit crazy.

    Lobbyists who push for militarization of police forces, private prisons with guaranteed numbers of prisoners, foreign military aid and interventions in order to gain government contracts for their clients annoy me, get people hurt and killed, and are chillingly sane. They just know how to stay in the shadows.

  59. Ryan says:

    @Ken

    Thanks for clearing that up. I should have said it didn't surprise me that she can't sue on the basis of a criminal complaint, but it did/does surprise me if she couldn't at least attempt to try to lay an information (or whatever it's called in the US) personally, even if it doesn't pass the merit test.

  60. Ken White says:

    In that case, I am glad that Ken stopped murdering babies for profit.

    We've actually never been in the black because I expense all of my plastic surgery.

  61. Elizabeth McClellan: When you use sarcastic inversion, you need to avoid changing polarity within a sentence. The reader might get dizzy.

  62. Matthew Cline says:

    Plaintiff states that Defendant Randazza and his co-conspirators are involved in prostitution rings

    And she left out your squirrel molestation ring? That's sloppy of her.

  63. Narad says:

    I'll take our current system – which still trends unfavorably toward locking people up who aren't a present danger to themselves or others

    We must be looking at completely different mental health systems. In Illinois (the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code of which, IIRC, was pretty early in the '70s wave of legal reform, as well as being much the work of Richard M. Daley), one has to really go out of one's way to be hospitalized under the "involuntary" category, and these hospitalizations have mainly fallen in the past to the state system because private hospitals don't want to touch the legal ramifications, even if one is insured.

    It is also extraordinarily difficult to get a 72-hour hold on someone, with the goal of arriving at the "voluntary" category once they settle down a bit. I've been in a situation where it took the better part of a month, with somebody's landlord's lackey genuinely* harassing me at work daily to somehow "fix" the situation and getting to be on a first-name basis with the cops who were visiting on a regular basis and patiently and 100% correctly explaining to them exactly how this was going to play out.

    In the meantime, the individual in question effectively destroyed the apartment and brought over a bunch of "friendly strangers" who were simply casing the joint and broke in by banging a hole in the wall after gaining access to an adjoining vacant unit from the outside.

    Here's how the story unfolds: The quick and the dead, they come The cops are called repeatedly. Eventually, they haul you to the ER. The ER sedates you and sends you on your way. This repeats once or twice, until you're so well known in the ER that they're starting to feel some heat. Seventy-two hour hold, and you're taking up a bed someplace. Since they can't pretend that you're not taka nuts by this point, you're offered two choices – sign in voluntarily or find yourself involuntary someplace even worse. Then they get rid of you too early, and the whole thing repeats until they break down and realize that it's going to take a full two weeks to really stabilize you.

    At this point, after being brought back a little closer to consensus reality, your landlord evicts you.

    What is really missing these days, and is probably never going to return, is the third legal category, "informal" admission. This was intended to allow people, in moments of lucidness, to check in for a couple of days with no great legal hassles on either end. One can argue that this is simply a recipe for people to take "vacations" in the psych ward, but that ignores the facts that most psych wards still really suck and that such "vacations" still happen, but in the grossly inefficient fashion of presenting oneself to the ER and winding up being held until the next day.

    * This included "DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM"–style lying about having a powerful connection with my employer but not being bright enough to realize that I had no reason not to ask that person why some meathead kept throwing his name around.

  64. StewBaby911 says:

    for those that get upset at 'Bat Shit Crazy' you could try the U.K. amelioration "Barking Mad"… :)

  65. Elizabeth McClellan (@popelizbet) says:

    @Narad There's a lot of variance between states in terms of what their statutes allow. I was referencing the states that still allow people to be involuntarily committed without a showing that they're a present danger to themselves or others. I don't have my fifty state survey on hand, but as I recall, Illinois isn't one of those states. I'm against letting people be locked up without such a showing. It's too ripe for abuse when states use lesser, vague standards, even if stricter standards result in delays in getting someone help.

  66. Ken White says:

    Ms. Cox is going around the internet complaining about the part of the opinion suggesting she extorts people. I asked a question.

  67. Narad says:

    I don't have my fifty state survey on hand, but as I recall, Illinois isn't one of those states.

    Here's one.

    I'm against letting people be locked up without such a showing. It's too ripe for abuse when states use lesser, vague standards, even if stricter standards result in delays in getting someone help.

    All that's needed now is a demonstration of such abuse's existence (even if the laws should be tightened up to preclude it) and that it in fact outweighs the practical matter that nobody really wants these patients in the first place, which is what I consider the main barrier to getting people into treatment. In the age of deinstitutionalization, hospitals simply aren't long-term warehouses any more.

    Do you posit the scenario of private parties trying to get people committed and courts routinely erring to the full extent possible under law? I don't see the states as having a great deal of interest in cramming street people into what's left of their institutional psychiatric facilities or picking fights with people who have the resources to defend themselves.

    One thing that could absolutely be improved is easing up on the bars to obtaining disability benefits. Having to be in and out of hospitals for a year or more is a waste of everybody's time and resources. (And for G-d's sake, then having to wait two more years for Medicare to kick in is absurd.) And, again, Illinois has the legal mechanism in place to simplify this, but as a practical matter, it's dead.

  68. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    The problem with stripping the deranged of their civil rights is that once you have locked up those who believe that the Government can solve social problems, or that a sitting president somehow arranged for an attack on the United States without making a total mess of it (Bush and Roosevelt), or that space aliens are the only explanation for crop circles and large landscape art, there won't be enough people left to keep the hospitals running.

  69. jerslan says:

    @Noscitur a sociis

    Marc chose wisely by proceeding narrowly — he didn't seek to capture domains that were on their face critical or satirical, like marcrandazzasucks.com.

    The injunction transfers (at, as is apparent from his complaint, Marc Randazza's request) the domains marcrandazzasucks.com (i.e. the one you specifically said he wasn't complaining about), fuckmarcrandazza.com, marcrandazzaisalyingasshole.com, marcrandazzaparody.com, exposemarcrandazza.com, <randazzalegalgroupsucks.com, trollmarcrandazza.com, hypocritemarcrandazza.com, marcrandazzaviolatedmylegalrights.blogspot.com, arcrandazzaegomaniac.blogspot.com, <marcrandazza-asshole.blogspot.com, and marcrandazzaliedaboutcrystalcox.blogspot.com.

    Thoughts?

    In the statement you quoted, he was referring to the WIPO complaint which was limited solely to cites named like "marcrandazza.com" since, in his experience with WIPO those were the most likely to succeed.

    The injunction was from a federal court, not WIPO, and was a separate complaint completely.

  70. Larry says:

    It is good to see that the system can function correctly even when dealing with people like Cox.
    Hopefully somebody will figure how to get her some help before she goes after somebody with violent tendencies and a lack of control. The First Amendment is not much protection when confronted with a wacko with a bat.
    Keep up the good fight Ken

  71. Corollax says:

    @Speed

    The objects of Crystal Cox's schemes and not better for having been attacked. On balance, we all would be better if it had never happened. The outcome confirmed the pre-conflict status but it was costly.

    Bastiat's Parable of the Broken Window

    And yet when a miscreant breaks a window and is compelled by lawful measures to pay restitution to the injured parties, I still consider the system to be working as it should.

    It reassures me that there are mechanisms in place to protect us from those that would abuse the legal system for their own ends. The courts are a vital resource to all of us, and spurious litigation is a threat to both that resource and our free speech.

    Further, when people like Volokh volunteer to protect our first amendment rights, even on the behalf of those who would deny those same rights to others, it gives me hope that those rights will endure.

    Was there damage done? Certainly. But there are mechanisms in place to compensate those who have been affected and to discourage others who might try such schemes in the future. In this, we can take some satisfaction.

    For my part, I found Ken's post exceedingly satisfying.

  72. George William Herbert says:

    @Elizabeth writes:

    @Narad There's a lot of variance between states in terms of what their statutes allow. I was referencing the states that still allow people to be involuntarily committed without a showing that they're a present danger to themselves or others. I don't have my fifty state survey on hand, but as I recall, Illinois isn't one of those states. I'm against letting people be locked up without such a showing. It's too ripe for abuse when states use lesser, vague standards, even if stricter standards result in delays in getting someone help.

    The standards for "a threat to others" need some work. Today, SWATting people has become en vogue for a certain class of disturbed individuals. The societal tolerance for that is too high.

    [I would like again to thank the Hayward Police Department for not overreacting when someone tried that with me a few years ago; three officers on my driveway and a quick polite talk with my wife and I at 3 AM-ish was professional and responsible].

  73. Shropshire Blue says:

    "Ultimately this case shows the legal system working."

    False. Isn't criminal law part of a country's legal system?

    If what you (and numerous others) say is true, then I think if your legal system worked Cox would be up on criminal charges for extortion and would be convicted.

    If what you say is not true, then I think Cox would have successfully sued you for libel.

    You definitely describe behaviour by Cox that is what people in most civilized countries would consider to be criminal 'years-behind-bars prison worthy behaviour' by Cox.

    That Cox isn't behind bars represents and enormous failure of the US's criminal justice system.

    Either the USA's extortion laws fail due to being too lax, or the USA's justice system is fails due to not enforcing them. It is a legal system failure.

    And I don't buy any 'not guilty by reason of insanity' argument — the 'she's just a kook' argument other posters are making.

    Prisons are full of insane people. You should need to be so insane you don't know what you're doing is a crime to get off on that. (That is how it is in Canada.)

  74. Shropshire Blue says:

    If she was simply crazy and attacking random people who annoyed her, then I would expect that some of the people she was trying to extort money from would be poor.

    But she that isn't the case is it.

    Going by what is described she's got a good racket going, a defective criminal justice system allows it to be legal, and she would be crazy to give it up all that money voluntarily.

  75. Speed says:

    Corollax wrote,

    Was there damage done? Certainly. But there are mechanisms in place to compensate those who have been affected and to discourage others who might try such schemes in the future.

    Please identify the "mechanisms" that compensated Kevin Padrick and Obsidian Finance Group. Please identify the "mechanisms" that "will discourage others who might try such schemes in the future."

  76. Steven H. says:

    @CSP Schofield:

    But I also think that assassinating a politician should be partially protected as political speech and punishable as littering.

    "Lone Star Planet", by H. Beam Piper

    "Court of Political Justice, Sam Houston Continent, is now in session." (said at the beginning of the trial sequence where someone was being tried for killing a senator – the charge was "excessive atrocity in exercising his right to criticise a practicing politician" – note that the "excessive atrocity" was NOT in killing him, but in using a machete to kill him, rather than shooting him).

    "Killing a politician is not mallum in se (no idea if Piper's latin legalese is correct), and is only mallum prohibitorum if his public acts did not deserve it".

  77. Ken in NJ says:

    @Shropshire Blue: If she was simply crazy and attacking random people who annoyed her, then I would expect that some of the people she was trying to extort money from would be poor.

    But she that isn't the case is it.

    Old, and perhaps well-worn, but applicable here:

    A guy gets a flat tire, and rolls to a stop in front of a mental hospital. As he gets out to change it, he notices one of the patients watching him from the other side of the fence.

    He jacks up the car, takes off the wheel, and puts the lug nuts into the hubcap. As he turns to grab the spare, he steps on the hubcap, sending the lug nuts flying into a storm drain.

    The driver paces back and forth, desperately trying to figure out what to do, when the guy on the other side of the fences says "Take one lug nut off each of the others tires and use those three to hold the wheel on. It's not perfect, but it'll hold you until the next service station"

    "Brilliant!" the driver replies. "What is someone as smart as you doing in there?"

    "I'm here because I'm crazy," says the patient, "not because I'm stupid."

  78. Dictatortot says:

    The thing that bothers and haunts me is what Ken aptly calls the "Batshit-Crazy Rule." By its principles, a nutcase can legally get away with saying things that most of us legally couldn't. In effect, people like Crystal Cox have certain free-speech rights that saner citizens don't have. Hard to like, and hard to support when put that way.

    Moreover, even a nutcase's wild accusations can eventually become second- or third-hand knowledge. Because someone like Cox would no longer be the direct source, her obvious insanity no longer makes the charges seem quite as palpably crazed as they otherwise would. So it's not clear to me that her words are THAT less capable of harming her targets than another person's would be.

  79. barry says:

    If she's crazy enough to think her "reputation management business" is legitimate, the difficulty in charging her with extortion might be that she has shown no sign of a guilty mind in asking for payments. Suing anyone and everyone (including judges) who calls it extortion probably helps.

  80. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says:

    @C. S. P. Schofield

    But I also think that assassinating a politician should be partially protected as political speech and punishable as littering.

    I'm sure Gabby Giffords thinks that's a cute way to look at it.

  81. Steven H., for future reference: malum in se, malum prohibitum.

  82. Reilly says:

    Because I could not help myself, it seems Ms. Cox actually has posted YouTube videos in which she details her exploits as an investigative blogger.

    Upon viewing them, I will say she seemed better spoken that i expected, or at least better than the written material she publishes.

    In the video, she discribes, almost coherently, how the bankruptcy system is often abused for personal gain by the lawyers who control the process.

    Sadly she's not completely wrong on that point, only wrong in viciously abusing and criminally extorting this particular trustee based not on any evidence, but on her own paranoia.

    I saw no obvious signs of intellectual disability. Nor did she exude mental illness, other than possibly a rather odd case of NPD mixed with a weird fetish for the ownership of domain names.

    This gratifies me: I can indulge in ridicule of her redicilous and offensive behaviour no longer concerned that I a mocking a person in need of medical attention, as I had previously believed.

  83. James Pollock says:

    Upon viewing them, I will say she seemed better spoken that i expected, or at least better than the written material she publishes.

    Alas, people who are quite deranged can appear lucid for brief periods, and for judges who have to decide matters based only on what they can see, say in the course of a 45-minute hearing, this can be a problem. They don't have enough time to accurately judge whether the accused or the accuser is the one with the more tenuous grasp on consensual reality. This is why there isn't enough money in the world to make me want to be a family court judge.

  84. Reilly says:

    James,

    Oh, she's a kook, but in the "Ken White killed Kennedy" sort of way, not the "The nurse is here to change your diaper" sort of way.

  85. LauraK/Sparrowkin says:

    I think, as Captain Mal-tightpants would opine, she "has a problem with her brain being missing"

  86. LauraK/Sparrowkin: Zoë said that, of Mal (The Train Job).

  87. Liz says:

    I'm not sure what exactly led me to this webpage. I was reading about the Hunter Moore case, I think Marc Randazza represented someone who successfully sued him which led me to a parody Randazza Twitter account and a blog that just posts bad news about him and how successful Crystal Cox's lawsuits are. Then I read this entire entry and clearly, that blog is run by Cox. This post gives me some insight into weighing her claims but, I must confess, reading over the anti-Randazza blog, it was clear that the owner had a grudge against him but it wasn't, on the surface, written by someone with a screw loose.

    I'm not sure if this is because I didn't read enough blog posts or I'm not that perceptive or that Cox's lucidity can come and go. I definitely would not say that it was obvious that the claims on it were hyperbole although I doubted they were true.

    Although I'm glad my rights are protected, it's not clear to me that it's easy to distinguish between "opinion" and "fact". Moore lost that case I was looking into because he called the plaintiff a pedophile. I see that (and worse) posted on social media all of the time. So, I'm not sure why a false claim that someone is a pedophile results in a $250K judgment while Cox calling others corrupt and dishonest is merely "an opinion" and she's not held responsible. Clearly, it could be proved that Padrick and Obsidian Finance were not corrupt, that it was factually untrue.

    The line between opinion and a factual claim seems pretty fuzzy to me and I could see judgments going either way (against or for the plaintiff if the statement is clearly untrue).

  88. Laura K/Sparrowkin says:

    Thanks, Anton, I would never wish to take credit away from the glorious Zoe.

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