Bloggers Defeat Brett Kimberlin's Vexatious Defamation Case In Maryland

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51 Responses

  1. Congratulations to my fellow University of Maryland law school grad Patrick Ostronic for his great work and for the defendants in their vindication.

  2. Matthew Cline says:

    I await with interest a more specific description of the basis for the judge's ruling, but I previously talked about how Kimberlin's case was meritless because he was trying to misconstrue protected statements of opinion as defamatory statements of fact.

    So, the judge gets to decide what is or or isn't protected statements of opinion, and then that which is deemed to be "not" gets passed onto the jury?

  3. Matthew Cline says:

    More specifically Kimberlin asserted that the defendants had made a factual statement that he is a pedophile, when in fact they offered opinions that he's a pedophile based on disclosed facts, which I outlined in that post.

    About that: suppose I say "The sky is blue. Therefore, John Doe is a pedophile". I'm pretty sure that's not going to protect me from a libel suit; the facts disclosed actually have to back up the opinion. So does the judge get to decide if the disclosed facts sufficiently back up the opinion, or does the jury?

  4. Damian Penny says:

    Every time I read about Kimberln, I find myself wondering if Dan Quayle ever got an apology from Garry Trudeau.

  5. Lynn Foster says:

    Great job by Ken, Patrick and everyone at Popehat. Great win for the good guys.

  6. Chris says:

    Excellent. I'm a pretty liberal guy and generally don't care for many of the defendants (in either case), but this is unquestionably the correct result and I'm happy that it happened. I look forward to many future sanctions for Mr. Kimberlin.

  7. Ken White says:

    @Lynn: I haven't earned any thanks here; this is all on Patrick and the defendants.

    @matthew: Generally the difference between statements of fact and statements of opinion is a question for the judge. And, yes, a statement is still protected opinion if its supposed factual premise is ridiculous. Hence conspiracy theories are generally not defamatory.

  8. Lynn Foster says:

    Ken: He who rallies support and mocks those deserving of being mocked is also a Man in the Arena. Also my memory was that you helped Patrick Frey with this case but I could be wrong. Either way, the Kimberlins of the world being slapped down is a good thing.

  9. BKWatch says:

    Sorry for my double post by accident. Please delete this pne.

  10. Kevin says:

    This was after Kimberlin's opening statement, interrupted dozens of times by objections, as he tied the case to Benghazi, the suicide of Robin Williams, and the motivations that spurred the 9/11 terrorists.

    Oh god, I cannot WAIT to read this transcript.

  11. Kevin says:

    @Ken White

    Some people are interpreting this result today as meaning that "it cannot be defamatory to call Brett Kimberlin a pedophile." That's a foolish interpretation.

    I've seen a lot of this on Twitter. Perhaps it might be worth posting some kind of disclaimer to this effect more visibly, in order to dissuade people from saying something that gives Kimberlin a valid cause of action.

  12. I am thankful for the excellent work Patrick Ostronic did in defending us. Thanks are due to you too, Ken White, for putting up the Popehat signal and alerting Mr. Ostronic (and several others who helped along the way).

  13. Rachel says:

    It was reported that at one point on the first day, the judge asked Kimberlin if he was charged with statutory rape. My understanding was that Kimberlin eventually answered in the affirmative.

    In this case that Kimberlin wanted to make about him being defamed by being called a pedophile, he probably lost it with the judge on the first day. If someone was charged with statutory rape and is a public figure, defamation for calling him a pedophile is probably a stretch, but IANAL.

    I'm not sure how much readers of Popehat know about Kimberlin, but it is widely alleged that he had a part in the murder of a grandmother so that he could continue either grooming or outright sexual abuse of her minor granddaughter. It appears that Kimberlin imported his own (possibly now estranged?) wife from the Ukraine when she was 15, when he began having sex with her, and married her at 16. It is also alleged that he tried to get his wife's younger cousin to have sex with him.

    This is no joke. Kimberlin is pure evil. He is a man without a conscience or empathy. Take your typical person who leaves a dog in the car on a hot day and magnify that evil by 1000. Kimberlin is still worse.

  14. Dustin says:

    Rachel, this blog has covered Kimberlin about as well as any has. You would enjoy reading Ken's past posts on this subject.

    I'm humbled when someone like Ken actually feels he came up short because he is so dedicated to a cause like our civil rights. Kinda makes my old blankets donation to Goodwill look a tad chumpy.

  15. Colin says:

    More states need to make barratry a crime. I, for one, like that Texas made it a felony on the second offense.

  16. azteclady says:

    @ Dustin

    I'm humbled when someone like Ken actually feels he came up short because he is so dedicated to a cause like our civil rights.

    Thank you for articulating this so well.

  17. Czernobog says:

    I took a detour to look at Ali A Akbar's twitter account. The man is a looney. I'm relieved he was unable to to screw this case up.

  18. EPWJ says:

    Ali is a person who was sued by a monster, stood up to him unafraid of him so others possibly wouldn't have too. I wouldn't judge too harshly

  19. BKWatch says:

    After my first wonderful post above, I want to add one more thing.

    The defendants in this case took a vicious stream of abuse from Kimberlin and the people Kimberlin duped into piling on. The abuse ranges from attack articles to SWATtings and death threats. The lawsuit itself was also a serious abuse. 5 of Kimberlin's complaints were dismissed without trial. The remaining two were dismissed because, after Kimberlin (apparently) spent all day ranting about Benghazi, 9/11, Robin Williams, all he had left was to make some defendants read their blogs out loud. Kimberlin seems to understand that the process itself is the abuse.

    I have asked myself whether I could take the constant attacks. Kimberlin and supporters have attacked the defendants, their families, their employers, churches, professional organizations, associates. I don't know how I could withstand it, especially not for so long. The defendants are very brave. Thanks to them sticking in this, Kimberlin may finally be stopped.

  20. andrews says:

    Would it not be nice if Maryland had an offer-of-judgment statute, and even nicer if the next few days revealed a motion for fees based on a well-formed offer? In [this state], anyway, such a thing can serve to make meritorious defense ultimately less onerous.

  21. Swamp Monkey says:

    It's a shame that even after all this, and after a statement that he is going to subject the bloggers to "endless lawsuits for the rest of their lives," he has yet to be labeled as a vexatious litigant.

    It seems patently obvious that this and other suits were intended not to remedy a wrong that he had suffered but merely to harass his critics. I assume that he has no means of paying any sanctions which might be leveled against him by any court in the land.

    So what is to stop him from filing again and again and again? How many abusive suits can he file before a court steps in and labels him as a vexatious litigant?

  22. Pablo says:

    @Rachel

    If someone was charged with statutory rape and is a public figure, defamation for calling him a pedophile is probably a stretch, but IANAL.

    It doesn't seem that it could possibly rise to the level of reckless disregard for the truth. Given the rest of Kimberlin's irrefutable criminal charms, it's no stretch to suggest that he's defamation proof. His reputation cannot be sullied any more than Kimberlin himself has already sullied it.

  23. Zemalkop says:

    "I deeply regret that I was not able to find more lawyers to assist the defendants in this case; I feel I let them down. I will try harder."
    Don't let it get to you, you can't find an army of pro-bono lawyers for every case. While we obviously all want to do better, you definitely didn't let them down. Without you a lot of people (or at the very least myself) wouldn't even have known about this case or Brett's litigious streak, and one good pro-bono lawyer is a whole lot better than none. You can't burden yourself with trying to help everyone and then beating yourself up for not doing enough. That sounds like a very unhealthy thing to do.
    You've done enough. You've done good. The world is a better place because of you.

  24. TimH says:

    @Dustin: I'd say your Goodwill donation was chumpy because the CEO, Mr Gibbons, took $463,041 salary in 2010 according to their public Form 990. I suggest Sally Army instead.

  25. W. H. Heydt says:

    @TimH. I have mixed feelings about the Salvation Army. On the one hand, they push their religion onto people that come to them for assistance which is a pretty scummy thing to do. On the other hand, do to the peculiarities of British law, they were able to aid distressed seamen during WW2 while the Red Cross was required to charge for such aid. (My father was an officer in the Maritime Service through the US involvement in the war.)

  26. Dan Weber says:

    Evaluating charities is difficult work. Is someone making a lot of money running a charity bad? I dunno. Sometimes it really takes a lot of money to pay the market rate for a CEO to do that.

    Ranking charities by "overhead" or other simple metrics really misses the mark. You have to figure out where you marginal dollar goes. And this isn't easy to figure out.

  27. Anton Sirius says:

    he'll always have a coterie of vapid and dishonest hagiographers, lapdogs, and deranged cyberstalkers.

    Too many people actually swallow that whole "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" nonsense. That only works if your enemy is 100% wrong all the time.

    Sometimes, the enemy of your enemy is even worse than your enemy.

  28. Rick C says:

    @W. H. Heydt, what's wrong with that behavior? You come asking someone for food or money, it's not at all unreasonable to get a little sermon or whatever.

  29. Brian Sament says:

    Minor point, but this irks me:

    Orly Taitz is not the Bret Kimberlin of the Right. No one would know who this freak is, had not MSNBC devoted something like 5% of its air time to her a few years back. The Lefties on that network pretended she had significant support, in an effort to discredit the Tea Party movement, which was and is about fiscal restraint & liberty, not birtherism.

  30. Tom F says:

    "Perhaps he realized that he would look ridiculous questioning himself."

    On reading that sentence I mentally replayed the scene in Bananas (1971) in which Woody Allen cross examines himself by jumping in and out of the witness box. The difference is, there never will be anything amusing about BK. … The pedophile part of it though …

  31. Dean says:

    How is what Kimberlin did any different than what James McGibney is doing with his LOLsuits against bloggers in three different courtrooms across the U.S.? McGibney is suing people for the same things that Kimberlin is. He is facing $1 million in anti-SLAPP sanctions in Texas and two anti-SLAPP motion hearings in federal court in California, all because some people might have criticized him and his revenge business. McGibney goes out and buys up websites in the names of people to harass them. In fact, he bought up a website in the name of the Texas attorney to harass him and harm his business!

    Why haven't you done a story about this clown, too? He is just has bad as Kimberlin I think.

  32. W. H. Heydt says:

    @RickC… I have no problem with it…so long as is a sign on the door clearly stating "Religious indoctrination is forced when any service is supplied."

    As for what's wrong with it…it presumes that everyone that is seeking help is (a) seeking that sort of "help" as well, and (b) that everyone coming there is religiously close enough to the organization not to find the proselytizing offensive.

    To the extent the SA gets government funds to do their charity work, they should either not accept public funds or drop the religious angle. (Since I *don't* share their religious ideas, I don't donate to them. I'd rather my taxes not be "donated" to them, either.)

  33. Devil's Advocate says:

    I also am shocked that religious people in religious organizations talk about religion while helping people. Shocked! Isn't there some sort of amendment to the Constitution about that?

  34. SarahW says:

    Did McGibney set a bomb in the parking lot of a high school on game day? And by the way, HI NEAL.

  35. Fasolt says:

    Isn't it obvious how the terrorist activity and Robin Williams' death are all related to Kimberlin? They were all dismayed at how unfairly Kimberlin has been treated by everyone over the years and acted out in their own way. I'm sure the real reason behind the Middle East conflict is Kimberlin's unfair treatment at all of our hands as well. Ferguson riots? Kimberlin. Stock Market down? Kimberlin. Unseasonably warm/cool temperatures in your part of the World? Kimberlin. My vegetable garden coming in slow this year? Kimberlin.

    It all makes sense to me now.

  36. Fasolt says:

    By the way, anytime I see the word "notorious" mentioned anywhere, like it is mentioned in your post above, I cannot help but put the word "furry" after it. Thanks a lot Jim. I hope you guest-post more responsibly in the future.

  37. Fasolt says:

    Broken link on that last post. Try this:

    Guest Post Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis On The Rule of Law

  38. mcalex says:

    Though they do enormous good, the Salvo's seem to have issues involving not taking appropriate steps to deal with members who cross certain lines.

  39. NotPiffany says:

    I deeply regret that I was not able to find more lawyers to assist the defendants in this case; I feel I let them down. I will try harder.

    Ken, sweetie, I think you're being too hard on yourself here. Looks to me like Mr. Ostronic worked out just fine, even after one of the defendants turned out to be a bit of a knucklehead.

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