Respectful Insolence

Sanctioned!

Remember the case of Clifford Shoemaker, lawyer for the antivaccinationist mercury militia who tried to subpoena Kathleen Seidel under incredibly dubious legal reasoning in order to harass and intimidate her? Remember how the subpoena was quashed?

One word: Sanctioned!

Woo-hoo!

Quoth Judge James R. Muirhead:

Clifford J. Shoemaker’s action is an abuse of legal process, a waste of judicial resources and an unnecessary waste of the time and expense to the purported deponent.

The Clerk of Court is directed to forward a certified copy of this order, the motion to quash, the show cause order, and the response of Shoemaker and Seidel to the appropriate professional conduct committee of the Virginia State Bar in order that it may be made aware of Clifford J. Shoemaker’s conduct and so that those authorities may take whatever action they deem appropriate.

As a sanction from this court, Clifford J. Shoemaker is ordered to attend within three months, a continuing legal education program on ethics and on the discovery rules in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. He is ordered to file a certification of completion of the programs.

Ow! That’s going to leave a mark.

How humiliating for poor Cliffy. He’s been ordered by the judge to go to, in essence, traffic school for lawyers to learn Ethics and Discovery 101. Better yet, he could well face additional sanctions from the Virginia State Bar. Overall, it’s not as much as I had hoped for but more than I had expected.

Comments

  1. #1 David C. Brayton
    June 24, 2008

    Gotta like this quote from the order:

    “Shoemaker has not offered a shred of evidence to support his speculations. He has, he says, had his suspicions aroused [regarding a conspiracy between Bayer and Ms. Seidel] because she has so much information. Clearly he is unfamiliar with the extent of the information which a highly-competent librarian like Ms. Seidel can, and did, accumulate.”

    Another appropriate sanction may have been to order Shoemaker to learn how to use a library.

  2. #2 Eamon Knight
    June 24, 2008

    Yes! There is a God!
    Actually no: it’ll take more than one minor ambulance-chaser getting spanked to restore my belief in Divine Justice. Now, maybe if He/She/They/It can get George Bush impeached….

  3. #3 Blaidd Drwg
    June 24, 2008

    Official SPANK!

    Buy that judge a Klondike Bar!

  4. #4 Niobe
    June 24, 2008

    I think this calls for a “booyah”.

  5. #5 Shay
    June 24, 2008

    One for the powers of truth, justice and the American way! WOO-HOO!

    Now can they add a requirement that Shoemaker pay all court costs that Kathleen may have incurred? I would so love to see that.

  6. #6 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    June 24, 2008

    I can’t WAIT to hear what John Beast has to spew about this.

  7. #7 LRM
    June 24, 2008

    “Shoemaker has not offered a shred of evidence to support his speculations. He has, he says, had his suspicions aroused [regarding a conspiracy between Bayer and Ms. Seidel] because she has so much information…”

    This is mind-boggling. Is the concept of competence so foreign to Shoemaker that he considers it to be evidence of a conspiracy?

    Kudos to the judge, and even larger kudos to Ms. Seidel for handling this matter so superbly.

  8. #8 D. C. Sessions
    June 24, 2008

    I can’t WAIT to hear what John Beast has to spew about this.

    I’m sorry, my filter just let the magic smoke out. I think it was about to go off on something about morons engaged in a massive and complex conspiracy or some such, but when it got to the fecal material distribution it must have impacted the cooling system because the fans spooled up and then there was this nasty smell and a grinding noise — then the screen went dark.

  9. #9 D. C. Sessions
    June 24, 2008

    This is mind-boggling. Is the concept of competence so foreign to Shoemaker that he considers it to be evidence of a conspiracy?

    On the Holy Warrior scale, Ms. Seidel is obviously not at Stage One (ignorance), which means that she must be at either Stage Two (incompetence) or Stage Three (evil). Her writing has made it quite clear that she understands the Mercurism doctrine, so there’s only one possible conclusion: she has deliberately chosen to serve the Dark Side.

    The only remaining doubt in my mind was whether Shoemaker was cynically playing to his audience (he does, after all, make his living from selling this snake oil) or whether he’s been drinking the Woo-laide. The incoherence of his response strongly inclines me towards the latter conclusion.

  10. #10 UncleDave
    June 24, 2008

    “As a sanction from this court, Clifford J. Shoemaker is ordered to attend within three months, a continuing legal education program on ethics and on the discovery rules in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.”

    He will need to be straight jacketed and have metal clips holding his eyelids open while a technician at the education program administers eye drops during the ethics & discovery rules movie.

    I couldn’t help the Stanley Kubric Clockwork Orange image…

    Wait isn’t “legal ethics” a oxymoron?

  11. #11 Alan Kellogg
    June 24, 2008

    ‘Tis good to see bloviating bozos given a thorough kawhacking. :)

  12. #12 DLC
    June 24, 2008

    Proof that there still are a few judges who do not suffer from anal-cranial impact.
    And I second Niobe: Booyah!

  13. #13 varkam
    June 25, 2008

    Schadenfreude, thy name is Clifford Shoemaker. Oh, that’s just freaking awesome. Hopefully the VSB will have a few kind words of their own on Cliffy’s abuse of the law.

  14. #14 Adam Cuerden
    June 25, 2008

    Let’s see what (if anything) the Virginia Bar does.

  15. #15 andrea
    June 25, 2008

    As one of the many bloggers listed in accessory fashion in Shoemaker’s document (i.e., everyone from Seidel’s blogroll), I can only speak for myself, but am sure the dominant sentiment will be:

    W00T!

    (with maybe a little neener-neener just because the whole thing was so damnably absurd).

    It’s always refreshing to see legal decisions that demonstrate consideration and justice, instead of just being indiscriminate steam-rollers of precedent and procedure.

    andrea

  16. #16 Justin Moretti
    June 25, 2008

    I’m with Andrea on this one – I hope that it starts a trend not only towards a smackdown of particular-issue axe-grinders like this (and the vexatious, mendacious and often quite nasty creatures who sometimes employ them) but also a more general shift to a position where statute is the servant of the people and not the other way around.

  17. #17 Brian
    June 25, 2008

    Re: David Brayton

    Well, the Progressive in 1979 accumulated enough material on thermonuclear weapons through public sources to warrant a gag order from the federal government. But Kathleen could only have had her information by being on Bayer’s payroll. Clearly, what we are to take away from this is that the link between vaccination and autism is a more closely guarded secret than the hydrogen bomb. My friends in pharma companies must have some goddamn interesting secret lives.

  18. #18 Harrison
    June 25, 2008

    Re: Brian

    You are kidding of course! I am just taking your subtle joking too literally!

  19. #19 jb
    June 28, 2008

    Considering the gravity of what he did, this is in fact a slap on the wrist. The rhetoric of the opinion raises it to the level of pimp-slap, but where are the financial consequences? The restitution for wasting everyone’s time?

    This is not a deterrent. This is a mild setback.

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