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Lawyer Who Subpoenaed Blogger Seidel Sanctioned 35

Zathras26 writes "Slashdot has previously reported on a lawyer subpoenaing Kathleen Seidel for blogging about him in an unflattering light. Seidel successfully moved to quash the subpoena. In granting the motion to quash, the judge ordered the lawyer, Clifford Shoemaker, to show cause as to why he should not be sanctioned for his behavior. Whatever his response was, if any, it apparently wasn't good enough, because Shoemaker has been formally sanctioned for his actions."
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Lawyer Who Subpoenaed Blogger Seidel Sanctioned

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  • by Majik Sheff ( 930627 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @09:28AM (#23915757) Journal

    It's nice to see a judge with a spine. I love reading stories about lawyers getting called out when they step over the line.

  • by jhRisk ( 1055806 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @09:49AM (#23916009)
    Is it me or are judges starting to "fight back" a bit? IANAL but I thought sactions were relatively rare and I've hear them used as threats or even imposed quite a bit as of late. Perhaps instead certain attorneys are getting more ballsy as they see their RIAA friends getting away with quite a bit?

    In any event, it's a step in the right direction and pleased to read about it.
    • Unlikely (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Magic5Ball ( 188725 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @10:06AM (#23916245)

      There are enough filters between trials and news consumers that it's unlikely you're experiencing a representative sample of any legal system. Of all the cases adjudicated, only a very small portion involve circumstances or individuals warranting media attention. Of all those, a fraction deserve more than local interest. Of those, news outlets and packagers pick up yet a smaller fraction.

      It may be that cases involving judges who also sanction lawyers are simply more exciting for some reason, and are therefore their proportion of visible stories is increasing, but that says more about the news media than it does about the judicial system.

  • He deserved..... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stainlesssteelpat ( 905359 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @09:52AM (#23916059)
    ....a slap for this. I've got friends who have aspergers (one of them a really talented and succuesful IT professional), and a cousin with autism. Its a really hard thing to deal with for families and all concerned, he's "lucky" because he's got it light. To raise a child with autism takes guts and commitment, I take my hat off to her. Furthermore, to take a stand against crackpots while juggling your own domestic issues is admirable, and certainly doesn't deserve a legal slap in the face for trying to a) educate people through her blog and b)debunk crackpot theories that only seek to gain monetary gain through litigation and not practical solutions. I think this lawyer has watched to many movies and wants to get a sex change []. Its a shame this woman had to go through this kind of shit in the first place. Makes me glad that frivolous litigation has reached such absurd levels in Australia yet.
  • In the end, the judge didn't order Shoemaker to pay a monetary sanction, but he did order the Virginia lawyer to attend ethics training and directed his court clerk to notify the Virginia State Bar so that it could consider disciplinary action on its own.
    I'm sure that if I pulled the same stunt against a lawyer or anyone with access to lawyers, I'd be facing a hell of a lot more than an opportunity to doodle at an "ethics training" course. He'll probably just learn how to act ethical now while remaining a charlatan.

    One law for them. Another for the rest of us. Don't forget it.

    • . . . will just use it as an opportunity to learn new unethical tricks. I'm sure he'll be fastidiously taking notes, not doodling.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by undercanopy ( 565001 )

      amen about "one law for them"

      a lawyer friend of mine used to get pulled over routinely when he was commuting a long way.. like, several times a month. He showed his court id and never got ticketed.

      I used to do IT work for a judge who was appalled that a copy a few towns away had the balls to, "...give a judge a ticket," after he got one. Apparently this is unheard of, and I'm quite confident it never got any further than that.

    • by darkmeridian ( 119044 ) <william,chuang&gmail,com> on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @12:43PM (#23919507) Homepage

      I generally share cynical views but everything here is above board (so far). State rights prevent a federal court judge from disbarring or professionally sanctioning an attorney as that is a matter for the state bar that accredited the attorney. The federal judge had his clerk file a complaint against the lawyer to the state bar. I'm sure that if we keep an eye on this case, the attorney in question will get sanctioned on a painful level by the state bar association.

      • by belmolis ( 702863 ) <billposer AT alum DOT mit DOT edu> on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @01:30AM (#23929647) Homepage

        This is not true. The federal courts have their own bar. To practice in a federal court, an attorney must be admitted to practice in that court. Most federal courts automatically admit any attorney who is licensed in the state in which the federal court is located, but this is a matter of courtesy and convenience, not law. Several federal districts require attorneys to pass a separate examination on federal law before admitting them. There is also a special procedure for admission of attorneys to practice patent law.

        A federal judge can therefore take disciplinary action against an attorney independently of any state action. The only relevance of state's rights is that a federal court cannot disbar an attorney from practice in state courts but can only refer the matter to the state's disciplinary body.

  • by RockMFR ( 1022315 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @10:09AM (#23916275)

    In response, Shoemaker filed a rambling opposition to potential sanctions in which he asserted that Seidel was engaged in a conspiracy with Bayer and others to harass him, his client, and various witnesses.

    I didn't know Jack Thompson could transfer his soul into other bodies. Yikes!

  • Hooray (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cerelib ( 903469 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @10:26AM (#23916521)
    This lawyer's actions are deserving of sanctions. Ms. Seidel's motion to quash []was extremely well written and I am very happy that a judge was able to see through this BS.
  • So, the court upholds the constitutional guarantee of free speech. But... only if the speech is against people.

    This is not a joke: In 13 states [], you do not have the right of free speech if you talk about food.

    Read about food libel laws []. Say anything you like about people, but don't libel food!

    Don't read this, if you live in these states: Citizens of Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, you may not read the next paragraph:

    Large amounts of caffeine have an effect on the human central nervous system that many people consider to be unhealthy. In my opinion, it is better to avoid caffeine. That means avoiding soft drinks with caffeine, and avoiding coffee unless it is de-caffeinated.

    Citizens of those states, resume reading. If you care for yourself, you will care for your government. Read the many, many books about government corruption in the United States. Take some action against abusiveness.

    More stories about your loss of the right to free speech:

    Talk Show Host Gets First Taste of Food Disparagement Laws []

    Food disparagement laws: A threat to us all [].

    Food Fights []

    Food Fight - food disparagement laws fought by Center for Science in the Public Interest's FoodSpeak Coalition project []
    • Weird - Seems pretty silly to me, even a little disturbing.

      But to be accurate, I followed the first link and read 4 of the 13 laws listed there. In each case, it was necessary for the statement made to be *FALSE* to trigger the law, so these are indeed actually "Food Libel" laws.

      Bit of an over-reaction to Oprah, I think.

      • It is remarkable to me how easily people accept abuse.

        Wow! You missed the point. If arbitrary and unconstitutional laws can be made to benefit private interests, we could soon see the U.S. government invading another country so that oil and weapons investors can drive up the price of oil and make more money. Oh, wait... That's already happened.

        Oprah paid more than 1 million dollars to defend herself from a court case that accused her of making false statements. I happened to have recorded that show, and

    • by Kamots ( 321174 )

      As a Texan I thought I'd actually read the law rather than take your word for it's interpretation

      "(a) A person is liable as provided by Subsection (b) if:

      (1) the person disseminates in any manner information relating to a perishable food product to the public;

      (2) the person knows the information is false; and

      (3) the information states or implies that the perishable food product is not safe for consumption by the public."

      Note that all 3 must be true for you to be liable.

      Note #2

      I'd kindly appreciate it if you

      • As happened to Oprah Winfrey, at a cost to her of more than a million dollars, someone can be sued who did not say anything false.

        The laws are apparently intended to strike fear into the hearts of those who talk about food. They have been VERY effective at doing that, at a time when so much of the nation's food supply is driven by profit rather than safety and health.

        The intent is to take away free speech, in one particular area, apparently, and the laws do that.

        If part of the right to freedom of s
      • Any producer of perishable agricultural food products who suffers damages as a result of another person's disparagement of any such perishable agricultural food product, when the disparagement is based on false information which is not based on reliable scientific facts and scientific data and which the disseminator knows or should have known to be false, may bring an action for damages and for any other appropriate relief in a court of competent jurisdiction.

        Oklahoma's is less reasonable.

    • Quote from the first link in the parent comment: As Bederman explains, in contrast to traditional libel law, the food disparagement laws "shift the burden of proof to the defendant. They allow speakers to be held liable even when they were just wrong."
      • Oops, the quote should have been:

        As Bederman explains, in contrast to traditional libel law, the food disparagement laws "shift the burden of proof to the defendant. They allow speakers to be held liable even when they were just wrong. That's in contrast to the First Amendment..."
  • Objection! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Shadow Wrought ( 586631 ) * <> on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:24AM (#23917603) Homepage Journal
    "Your Honor I strongly object to this exhibit."
    "On what grounds, counselor?"
    "It really hurts our case."

    Good for the Judge. Just because you don't like something, doesn't mean you automatically have a remedy.

  • More than a few people were wondering how those sleazy lawyers can get away with stuff like this. This is how.

"In matrimony, to hesitate is sometimes to be saved." -- Butler