Rakofsky v. The Internet Gets Dismissed, Streisand Effect Remains

May 11, 2013
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“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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Joseph Rakofsky and Matthew H. Goldsmith: When “Keeping It Real” Goes Wrong

January 6, 2013

You may remember Joseph Rakofsky. In 2011, a D.C. Superior Court said his trial “performance was not up to par under any reasonable standard of competence under the Sixth Amendment” while defending a man accused of murder, and declared a mistrial. This was particularly notable because it was Rakofsky’s first trial. Not just his first murder trial, but his first trial.Β The court also had ethical concerns about an email Rakofsky wrote to a private investigator instructing him to “trick” a witness.Β Rakofsky’s blunders were picked up andΒ written about by the Washington Post.

The legal blogosphere was intrigued. What kind of young lawyer would take on a murder case as their first trial? Soon they would find out.

Amazingly, it turns outΒ Rakofsky had declared a personal victory in the trial on his Facebook page:

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The legal blogosphere did some more investigating and found it got worse. Much worse. Despite being licensed for only a very short period of time and in New Jersey only, Rakofsky held out that he had offices in New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C., and Connecticut. His letterhead even listed offices where he is not licensed to practice.

RakofskyΒ described his law firm:

My name is Joseph Rakofsky, and I founded this firm on a commitment to set the standard for criminal defense in New York City. When you need an experienced attorney to make sure your rights are protected, no one will fight more aggressively on your behalf than we will. We have an extensive and intricate understanding of legal procedures and loopholes, as well as federal and state trial experience, especially in all areas of white collar crime including: * Embezzlement * Tax Evasion * Identity Theft * Securities & Bank Fraud * Grand Larceny * Drug Trafficking

Not only is Rakofsky unlicensed to practice in New York, but that is pretty ambitious for someone who had been licensed for such a short period of time. It seemed like at every turn, the story got worse and worse.

At this point, Rakofsky had a choice to make. He could take his licks and learn from it, and move on with some hard earned experience and perhaps a little humility.

He could have done that, but instead Joseph Rakofsky decided to keep it real.

First, Rakofsky suedΒ 78 defendants in a New York state court in a suit aptly dubbed “Rakofsky v. The Internet.” Then when bloggers blogged about his SLAPP suit, he decided to add them inΒ by filing an Amended Complaint. Rakofsky’s Amended Complaint weighed in at 82 pages with 218 paragraphs.

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