Rakofsky v. The Internet Gets Dismissed, Streisand Effect Remains

May 11, 2013

“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.Β A bunch of other talented attorneys also defended the case, includingΒ John H. TeschnerΒ andΒ David Brickman. (Teschner is too cool for a lawyer website.) Kudos to them, too.

Of course, another huge round of applause for bloggersΒ Scott Greenfield, Brian Tannebaum, Carolyn Elefant, Canada’sΒ Antonin Pribetic,Β George Wallace, Jeff Gamso, Mark Bennett,Β Above the Law, Philadelphia’s ownΒ Maxwell Steed Kennerly, Mirriam Seddiq, Eric Mayer, Jamie Koehler, bannination.com, and others who chose to fight this silly lawsuit instead of paying Rakofsky $5000Β 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.Β In dismissing the case, the court found that:

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

TheΒ clear import of Judge Jackson’s rulings was to excuse Rakofsky due to his lack of competence andΒ inexperience to defend Deaner in a murder trial. It is acknowledged that the Deaner murder trial wasΒ Rakofsky’s first trial in a foreign jurisdiction and with which he was totally unfamiliar, and JudgeΒ 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 DeanerΒ case was not defamatory because even Rakofsky initially celebrated the mistrial as a positiveΒ development in his career. In other words, defendants’ report that a mistrial occurred does notΒ constitute defamation.

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