Previously I blogged about how attorney Clifford Shoemaker issued a thuggish subpoena to blogger Kathleen Seidel of the Neurodiversity blog, in apparent retaliation for her blogging about his anti-vaccine case. Seidel's pro se motion to quash Shoemaker's subpoena was granted and Shoemaker was ordered to show cause why he should not be sanctioned, an utterly humiliating defeat for him.
Seidel has a recent update. Shoemaker's lawyers Brian T. Stern and John F. McHugh requested more time to respond to the order to show cause, and in doing so dropped a hint of Shoemaker's excuse for issuing an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink subpoeana to a non-party blogger who criticized his case:
4. It would appear that Kathleen Seidel heads a group which strongly opposes the positions taken by the Sykes family in this proceeding. However, she and her associates have done more than comment on these positions; they have taken action to discredit the Sykes family, Lisa Sykes as a minister of the United Methodist Church, and witnesses who have given support to the family’s positions. They have interfered with these witnesses’ professions, professional relationships, and economic opportunities.”
“5. The subpoena in issue relates, however, to indications that Ms. Seidel is receiving aid in her effort to harass litigants and their experts, including her efforts to damage them personally for their participation in this lawsuit, by the Defendant, either directly or indirectly.”
Bear in mind that these lawyers are talking about blogging. In other words, they are defending the proposition that if someone brings a lawsuit, and you blog (or otherwise comment) about that lawsuit negatively, you are "taking action to discredit" the plaintiff, harassing them, and damaging them. This is preposterous. Hopefully the judge will reject it; the fact that the judge already granted the motion to quash bodes well. The notion that vigorous criticism of litigants can rise to the level of "harassment" warranting a reveal-all-your-communications-and-finances subpoena to a nonparty is offensive and dangerous.
Seidel goes on in the post to document how two of the anti-vaccine "experts" associated with the suit — Dr. Mark Greer and David Greer — have previously used a similar theory to sue scientists for criticism of and dissent from their scientific analysis.
I'm suspicious enough of the anti-vaccine movement to begin with. But the more it becomes associated with legal thuggery, suppression of criticism, and the notion that anti-vaccine advocates should be protected from dissent, the less credible it becomes. If there is any real science there, these attorneys and experts are doing it a grave disservice by their retaliatory conduct.
Last 5 posts by Ken White
- Hate Speech Debate on More Perfect Live - September 5th, 2017
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- America At The End of All Hypotheticals - August 14th, 2017
- Lawsplainer: Why John Oliver Is Anti-Diversity Now - August 11th, 2017