Why Pennsylvania Desperately Needs an Anti-SLAPP Statute To Protect Civic Engagement – The Dragonetti Act Is Not Enough

May 19, 2013

When most people think of the First Amendment, they think of the right to free speech. However, the First Amendment does not just protect free speech, it protects all civic engagement. The purpose of the First Amendment is to ensure that citizens have an active voice in our government. The First Amendment is not just a right to free speech, but a right to public participation. 

That right in Pennsylvania is currently in jeopardy thanks to SLAPP suits (strategic lawsuits against public participation). 

Ideally, Congress would pass uniform anti-SLAPP legislation so citizens in all 50 states enjoy the right to public participation. But until that happens, Pennsylvania desperately needs an anti-SLAPP statute because what we have on the books currently is not enough. Every citizen should be able to participate in our government, perhaps through blogging or civic activism, without having to worry about being served with a frivolous lawsuit.

Below are my thoughts on why we need it, and what it would look like…

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Rakofsky v. The Internet Gets Dismissed, Streisand Effect Remains

May 11, 2013
blog9-barbra-streisand

“Remember folks, filing defamation lawsuits can have unintended consequences.”

A big round of applause for Marc Randazza and Eric Turkewitz – the attorneys who defended 33 bloggers accused of defaming Joseph Rakofsky. Yesterday the New York Supreme Court dismissed Rakofsky’s ridiculously stupid lawsuit for a number of reasons. A bunch of other talented attorneys also defended the case, including John H. Teschner and David Brickman. (Teschner is too cool for a lawyer website.) Kudos to them, too.

Of course, another huge round of applause for bloggers Scott Greenfield, Brian Tannebaum, Carolyn Elefant, Canada’s Antonin PribeticGeorge Wallace, Jeff Gamso, Mark BennettAbove the Law, Philadelphia’s own Maxwell Steed Kennerly, Mirriam Seddiq, Eric Mayer, Jamie Koehler, bannination.com, and others who chose to fight this silly lawsuit instead of paying Rakofsky $5000 and saying they’re sorry like, say, Lori Palmeri did. By fighting the case instead of paying a settlement because such a thing would be convenient, the bloggers put their personal lives on the line when push came to shove in defense of the First Amendment.

It’s always nice to see that integrity still matters to some.

So… what happened? The court dismissed the case but did not sanction Rakofsky. In dismissing the case, the court found that:

Rakofsky does not deny Judge Jackson made several comments that he was not competent and too inexperienced to provide a proper defense to Deaner in a murder trial. In fact, during the trial, Judge Jackson had two side-bar discussions with Deaner pointedly inquiring whether he was satisfied with Rakofsky’s competence and lack of trial experience. The gravamen of Rakofsky’s argument is that there was no causal connection between the mistrial.and his competence and inexperience.

The clear import of Judge Jackson’s rulings was to excuse Rakofsky due to his lack of competence and inexperience to defend Deaner in a murder trial. It is acknowledged that the Deaner murder trial was Rakofsky’s first trial in a foreign jurisdiction and with which he was totally unfamiliar, and Judge Jackson was vigilant in protecting Deaner’s right to effective assistance of counsel. Significantly, the reported fact that Judge Jackson declared a mistrial in the Deaner case was not defamatory because even Rakofsky initially celebrated the mistrial as a positive development in his career. In other words, defendants’ report that a mistrial occurred does not constitute defamation.

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November 30, 2012

Jordan Rushie:

Jordan’s commentary:

Earlier this year, Crystal Cox claimed that the WIPO endorsed her practice of the buying domain names of her enemies, Google-bombing them with her rants, and then offering to clean it up for a fee. Crystal gained notoriety when she did this to Marc Randazza, his wife, and their three year old daughter.

At the time, Crystal may have been right, as she beat Proskauer in a WIPO dispute for proskauerlawfirm.com. However, today the WIPO found that “Basically, for a price, [Crystal Cox] would undo the injury to the Complainant for which she was responsible for having created in the first place.” Accordingly, Crystal Cox’s “egregious conduct clearly constitutes bad faith under the Policy.”

BOOM.

Originally posted on The Legal Satyricon:

Those of you who recall this post about Crystal Cox will find the following document of interest.

Randazza v. Cox – Decision D2012-1525

Naturally, I would find the opinion to be a good one, as the Panel found in my favor. However, the Panelist seems to have really gotten the whole point of Crystal Cox’s extortion scheme — something that prior panels dealing with her failed to do. See Joseph Leccese v. Crystal Cox, WIPO Case No. D2011-0679 and Allen Fagin v. Crystal Cox, WIPO Case No. D2011-0678. In those cases, either the Complainant didn’t communicate the facts adequately to the Panels, or the Panels were just lazy in their analysis.

In this case, the Panelist got right to the heart of the matter.

Highlights from the opinion:

In this passage, the Panel lays out in pretty clean terms, Cox’s extortion scam.

Respondent’s actions in registering and using the disputed…

View original 356 more words


Opposing Severance Is Now In Vogue – Using the Battlefield to Your Advantage in Bittorrent Litigation

October 30, 2012

Use the battlefield to your advantage. Do not simply charge the English heavy cavalry head on.

Back 100 years ago this July, Marc Randazza gained some attention for defending a bittorrent case a little differently. What was different? Randazza opposed severing all of the defendants. It was the first time anyone had opposed severance, as common knowledge dictated that one should always try and sever defendants in a mass bittorrent action.

The “anti-severance strategy” caused Randazza to get flack from Fightcopyrighttrolls and Ray Beckerman. Beckerman stated:

Said attorney has sued hundreds of BitTorrent users in the last year on behalf of copyright holder plaintiffs which raises the question of how and why he came to be making a motion, purportedly on behalf of a Doe defendant in that case, that clearly goes against the interests of the defendants in that case.

I mean, the ONLY way to defend one of these cases is to file a motion to sever, and a motion to quash, right? Right? That’s what the EFF said!!

Errrr… not so much. It looks like a few people owe Randazza an apology, because it’s becoming more and more apparent that severance may not be in the best interests of the Doe defendants in the current climate. In my opinion, it’s probably not in a Doe defendant’s best interest to sever a case in today’s climate.

Here is why.

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Ranaan Katz and Alan Kluger: “Sue Everybody! Punitive Damages!”

June 26, 2012

With so many Censorious Asshats to follow this month (Brett Kimberlin, Joseph Rakofsky), the Ranaan Katz thing kind of slipped under my radar.

In short, Raanan Katz is a part owner of the Miami Heat. He sued Irina Chevaldina in state court due to stuff she posted on a blog called RK Associates USA. With that lawsuit moving slowly, Katz filed another lawsuit against her and Google, this time in federal for copyright infringement, due to an unflattering picture of Katz on the blog.

I don’t know what Katz alleges Chevldina did that is defamatory or whether or not the lawsuit has merit. I haven’t looked into it. I don’t really care all that much. All I know is that a rich guy who owns part of the Miami Heat is suing a blogger. Chevldina is represented by Marc Randazza. Randazza sums the suit up like this:

I am representing a SLAPP defendant. The case has gone viral, since the plaintiff is a part-owner of the Miami Heat. The short version is that the Defendant writes about a rich guy. Rich guy sues, and not too many people pick up the story. Rich guy tries to get an injunction against speech. We opposed the case vigorously, including this opposition to the motion for a preliminary injunction.  Plaintiff’s side then filed a copyright infringement suit against my client and Google. (Freakin’ Google!) Rich guy happens to be part owner of the Miami Heat. On the day the Heat celebrated their World Championship, the whole world points at Plaintiff and starts laughing.

Katz’s lawyer has even threatened to sue people who report the story:

In the meantime, Levine has strong words for anyone who would consider writing about Katz’s lawsuit. “I’d ask you not to publish anything about this,” he says. “Even pointing people toward that blog could constitute further defamation.”

With two lawsuits against Chevldina, one against Google, and threat of suit directed at anyone who links to Chevldina’s blog, guess what? Katzs wants to sue MORE people!

Katz’s attorney, Alan Kluger of Kluger, Kaplan, Silverman, Katzen & Levine, P.L., is now threatening to sue Marc Randazza and his local counsel Robert Kain for defending Chevldina.

Sue everybody! PUNITIVE DAMAGES!

As you might imagine, this type of tactic isn’t permitted in litigation. Accordingly, Randazza has moved for a protective order.

This scorched earth tactic is a pretty dumb idea, in my opinion. An attorney in Philadelphia was disbarred for, among other things, filing frivolous lawsuits against opposing counsel.

But hey, when you’ve got a lot of money to spend, just sue everybody until they shut up!


Fun Friday Reading: Marc Randazza and Eric Turkewitz’s Latest Papers Absolutely Decimate Joseph Rakofsky

June 15, 2012

Margarita Monday anyone…?

Finally got around to reading the new papers filed in the Joseph Rakofsky v. the Internet case. Here they are:

A couple of weeks ago I did my best to try and breakdown Rakofsky’s set of papers. This week Marc Randazza and Eric Turkewitz did a much better job.

The opposition to Rakofsky’s Motion to Amend discusses Rakofsky’s endless amount of paper he has made everyone sift through, including opposing a pro hac motion, requesting a stay and then violating it by trying to file motions that were deemed “incomprehensible”, and then appealing the denial of those motions. Rakofsky also sought $5000 settlements from many of the defendants, which some actually paid. As the Defendants point out:

Once the Court granted Marc Randazza’s pro hac vice admission on September 15, 2011, Rakofsky requested and received a stay of proceedings so that he could retain new counsel. On October 24, 2011, however, Rakofsky attempted to file documents with the court in violation of this very stay that he had just requested.

Rakofsky again tried to receive ex parte relief from the Court on December 23, 2011, bringing an order to show cause that sought a wide range of relief ranging from a second amendment of the complaint, to court orders that involved at least one non-party, Google, Inc. On the face of these papers, it was hard to understand what, exactly, Rakofsky wanted the court to do. The filing was so awful that Justice Goodman, who handled this matter prior to her retirement, denied it on January 3, 2012 as “incomprehensible.”

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Very Few Things Leave Me Speechless… this did.

May 1, 2012

Я выиграл для меня! ДЛЯ МЕНЯ!

Most of you remember Crystal Cox from the “extortionists who pretend to be bloggers are not journalists” case, Obsidian Finance v. Cox. Yes, shockingly, if you Google-bomb someone’s reputation and then offer to clean it up for a fee, apparently that is not “journalism.”

Crystal Cox rose to a particular level of notariety after going after Marc Randazza‘s three year old daughter. As you might imagine, bringing a three year old child into the mix didn’t play well.

This week, Crystal Cox filed objections and a declaration in support of her objections to Obsidian’s request to place her domain names in receivership.

Very few things leave me speechless. This takes the cake. Or keylime pie or whatever.

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Crystal Cox: Is Philly Law Blog Part of a Big Awesome Media Conspiracy, Along With AbovetheLaw and Nickelback fans? I Sure Hope So!

April 5, 2012

Chickity China the Chinese chicken, you have a drumstick and your brain stops tickin', watchin' X-Files with no lights on, we're dans la maison, I hope the Smoking Man's in this one.

Growing up, my favorite show was the X-Files. You could never tell if Fox Mulder was off his rocker, or whether the whole thing was part of a big alien conspiracy. And the Smoking Man was pretty cool.

I still like shows on the History Channel about Nostradamus, the Mayan Calendar, and the Illuminati and that sort of thing. Hell, I’ve even read the DaVinci Code. The conspiracy theory stuff is always fun and interesting.

Today, as an unabashed Nickelback fan, I’m hoping to become part of the vast conspiracy.

Now, I know you’re saying “There’s no such thing as a Nickelback fan!”

But shouldn’t the question be asked?

Are Nickelback fans trying to silence Crystal Cox on behalf of big media?

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The Evolution of Crystal Cox: Anatomy of a Scammer

April 3, 2012

"Does anyone out there want me to write defamatory stuff about them and then buy my reputation management services to remove it? YOU CAN PAY ME IN STRAIGHT CASH HOMIE!"

Today I’m here to shine a little sunlight and tell you the entire story of Obsidian v. Cox, the matter touted as “bloggers aren’t journalists.”

Often, the truth is much stranger, and sicker, than fiction…

This is how Crystal Cox’s scam works generally: Cox calls herself an investigative blogger / journalist. She posts a bunch of negative stuff about you on the internet. Then she buys a bunch of domain names about you, your family, and your business to make sure all her posts are at the top of a Google search. But lucky for you, Cox also happens to be a “reputation management specialist.” Cox then offers to sell you “reputation management services” to clean it all up to the tune of $2500 a month.

As Carlos Miller aptly put it, Crystal Cox “is the cyber equivalent of the mob goons who firebomb your business, before demanding protection money.”

Not surprisingly, a court found this kind of behavior is not protected speech in Obsidian v. Cox.

You may remember that over the weekend I wrote a piece about Crystal Cox, when Cox went after Marc Randazza’s three year old daughter after offering to sell Randazza “reputation management” services which he declined.

Yes, you read that right – apparently Crystal Cox went after a three year old when Randazza wouldn’t buy reputation management services.

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Crystal Cox – Investigative Blogger? No, More Like A Scammer and Extortionist

March 30, 2012

Crystal Cox: “Pay me $2,500 a month and I won’t write false crap about you, call your wife a slut, and go after your 3 year old daughter on the internet! STRAIGHT CASH HOMIE!”

Imagine this…. you Google yourself. To your surprise, a whole bunch of stuff that is blatantly untrue comes up. Being an adult, you call the person who wrote it. This is how the conversation goes down:

“Did you write all that stuff on a website about me?”
“Yup. I’m an investigative blogger journalist!”
“Um, a bunch of the stuff you wrote about me is untrue. Actually all of it is.”
“Oh sure, I know. But I’m a journalist blogger so I can say whatever I want. First Amendment, bitch! But tell you what – I’m also reputation manager. If you pay me $2,500 a month, I’m sure a lot of that untrue stuff would go away.”
“Uhhhhhh… wait a second. You wrote a bunch of stuff that’s untrue about me. And now you’ll only take it down if I pay you?”
“Yup! And if you DON’T pay me it’s going to get worse! I’m going to buy a bunch of domain names that involve you and your family. Not only will I smear your reputation, but I’ll smear theirs, too! I’ll write all kinds of stuff, like call your wife a slut! I’ll even go after your four year old child!”
“That’s extortion!”
“No silly, it’s not extortion! It’s journalism! Investigative journalism!”

You’re probably saying to yourself “nah, that couldn’t happen. That’s illegal. A person could get in a lot of trouble for doing something so irresponsible and probably illegal.”

Too bad that’s exactly what Crystal Cox did. Twice now. Maybe more. Read the rest of this entry »


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