Patterico's Pontifications

3/11/2010

Judge Dismisses ACORN Lawsuit Against Investigative Journalists

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:37 pm



Ben Sheffner has the news. The suit was dismissed for failure to serve the defendants:

It was with great fanfare that ACORN, along with two recently-fired employees of its Baltimore office, sued last September over the surreptitious taping of the employees advising O’Keefe and Giles on running a prostitution business out of a house. ACORN’s general counsel, Arthur Schwartz, told the Washington Post at the time that the defendants, young filmmakers O’Keefe and Giles, plus Andrew Breitbart’s Breitbart.com LLC, which disseminated the videos, had committed “clear violations of Maryland law” against audio recording without consent from all parties. But ACORN appears to have lost interest in the case since filing it, confirming my suspicion that it was little more than a press release on pleading paper.

It’s not as if Breitbart, Giles, or O’Keefe are hard to find. ACORN didn’t serve them because ACORN didn’t want to. As Ben explains at the link, the lawsuit was a loser legally. But it was great P.R. And that was always the only reason for this abusive lawsuit brought in bad faith.

25 Responses to “Judge Dismisses ACORN Lawsuit Against Investigative Journalists”

  1. Be interesting to see how the _________’s (Insert the invective of your choice) at Media Matters try and spin this.

    SteveCan (72a7f6)

  2. Wait a minute! I was assured in no uncertain terms by multiple people of a sinister bent that Giles and O’Keefe were going down on this charge. It’s almost as if they were full of hot air. Or some other smellier substance.

    Subotai (76ce87)

  3. Given the obvious details that this was an abuse of the system, is there any chance for sanctions? Can ACORN just do this to anyone who dares speak about them?

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  4. Let’s see what slime timb and imdw are supplied to throw on this site to defend ACORN with.

    As I posted in another thread, Judicial Watch got the goodies on Holder dropping the ACORN investigations. I wonder if the telepropmter told him to drop it or if a naked Rahm Emmanuel poked fingers into Holder’s chest until he dropped the investitgation.

    Or was it like the New Black Panthers voting interference case, that the Democrats in question were mostly Black?

    PCD (1d8b6d)

  5. Dustin, sanctions are unlikely given that Giles and O’Keefe would not have had to spend money on attorneys writing responses yet.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  6. An update to that Ohio ACORN story where SPQR provided a link to the story I commented about on another thread:

    The community organizing group ACORN has agreed to give up its Ohio business license and not return under another name, as it has in other states, under a settlement struck with a libertarian center that sued it.

    (more at the link)

    It sounds like COI won’t be allowed in Ohio under this deal.

    John Hitchcock (3890c1)

  7. Frog march! Frog march! Frog march!

    Keep pounding sand, asshats.

    Dmac (ca1d8c)

  8. Forgive me for my naivety.

    I just think this kind of behavior is an abomination. If the NRA started suing Bloomberg, and then dropped it, in several states, and made a huge fuss about the lawsuit they didn’t really intend to litigate, I would feel the same way. The court system is for real conflicts and serious claims, not press release damage control bullshit.

    [note: released from moderation. –Stashiu]

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  9. Forgive me for the threadjack, but I’m out of town for 36 hours and now I see the following:

    – Senate Parliamentarian tells Reid that he’s SOL
    – Robert Byrd reiterates why it’s indefensible to try to ram through a bill of this enormity via reconciliation
    – Durbin takes to the floor and inadverdently calls Obama a liar

    Is this an awesome political party, or what?

    Dmac (ca1d8c)

  10. I’m actually surprised by this. I figured that the Obamabots would at least go as far as the Clintonoids who prosecuted/persecuted Linda Tripp for her supposed violation of that very same Maryland statute when she recorded her conversations with Monica Lewinsky (listen here).

    That prosecution came to nothing, but only after Tripp spent all available resources on attorney fees and the state of Maryland spent most of its allotted budget for such prosecutions trying to hang something — anything — on Tripp. She got some relief when she was awarded over $900,000 after the Clinton Defense Dept. leaked an expunged shoplifting charge to Jane Mayer & Jill Abramson, then reporters for The New Yorker.

    However … I am still sore at George W. Bush for canning her on arrival.

    L.N. Smithee (b048eb)

  11. In happier news…

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — The community organizing group ACORN has agreed to give up its Ohio business license and not return under another name, as it has in other states, under a settlement struck with a libertarian center that sued it.

    From here: http://bit.ly/ccU15t

    As an Ohioan, consider me happy!

    tdpwells (6c977b)

  12. Correction of my previous comment @ 3:12 pm: The Defense Dept. did NOT leak the record of Tripp’s youthful shoplifting charge, which was expunged from her record. Mayer & Abramson unearthed Tripp’s arrest record without DOD assistance, according to all available sources.

    What the DOD leaked was the fact that Tripp didn’t make mention of the incident on her employment application before getting her first DOD job, leading to public discussions by Pentagon spokespersons about whether or not she was required to disclose it, which naturally led to talk that she ought to be fired.

    L.N. Smithee (b048eb)

  13. […] surprisingly, liberal-corruption-machine ACORN royally dropped the ball (I think it was on purpose, but that’s just my suspicious nature) […]

    No Worries Now in Maryland for James O’Keefe, Hannah Giles: ACORN’s Lawsuit Dismissed by Baltimore Court, Plus ACORN Kicked Out of Ohio for Voter Registration Fraud « Frugal Café Blog Zone (a66042)

  14. Lest you think this was the innocent result of some oversight by ACORN’s lawyers:

    Note that the docket tracking entry for January 28, 2010, reflects the filing — probably by the court clerk, in compliance with the state procedural rules — of something referred to as a “Notice of Cont. Dismissal Lack of Juris.” My further guess is that “Cont.” there is an abbreviation for “contemplated,” and “Juris.” of course refers to jurisdiction.

    I don’t practice in Maryland, but my strong hunch from all this is that on or shortly after January 28th, ACORN’s lawyers were mailed a routine written reminder and warning on January 28th, which they then deliberately chose to ignore, in full knowledge of the certain result (dismissal without prejudice).

    ACORN could have avoided the dismissal simply by taking, even belatedly, the normal procedural steps for yanking someone into court. Even with out-of-state defendants, that rarely involves anything much more complicated than paying a small fee and filling out the appropriate forms, after which the court clerk will issue the appropriate court process (a “citation,” we call it in Texas anyway) and take steps to serve it, probably by sending it by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the addresses ACORN had already provided for each of the defendants. Lawyer and paralegal time required to accomplish this: less than a half hour. Out of pocket expenses: certainly less than $1000.

    Had this happened in Texas, I’m confident that the inherent supervisory powers of the courts would permit a judge, acting even on his own motion and without the defendants ever having appeared, to consider whether sanctions are appropriate. Absent a damned good explanation for why the case was good enough to file but not good enough to have served on the other side, most judges would recognize that their courts were being used to perpetuate a charade. Sanctions against the lawyers would not be at all out of the question, nor would be a referral to the Bar with recommendations that it independently review the circumstances to see whether they reflect significantly on ACORN’s lawyers’ fitness for bar membership.

    Beldar (9b2df8)

  15. perpetuate –> perpetrate

    and sorry about the duplicative date clauses ….

    Beldar (9b2df8)

  16. One more thing: There’s nothing in the docket record to suggest that ACORN ever took the necessary steps to accomplish the issuance and service of process. Normally that would be done as part of the initial filing. If service were requested as usual when the case was first filed, and if there had then been snags — if, for example, a certified mailing had come back unclaimed — that sort of thing might show up on the docket. But there’s no suggestion of snags either.

    This leads me to suspect that on the day it filed the case, ACORN already intended to let it be dismissed for lack of service.

    Very, very shabby.

    Beldar (9b2df8)

  17. Beldar, you give me hope for the legal profession.

    As big and bold as O’Keefe seems on video, he really is David fighting Goliath here. He’s just a kid. He’s not well polished or all that professional, and makes mistakes and probably was very concerned about this lawsuit. And Giles and her family put on a brave face, but this kind of suit really is distressing. ACORN’s a billion dollar enterprise (despite some dishonest accounts in the MSM). They can squash critics if the courts let them get away with this kind of stunt.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  18. Beldar,

    That was that i was thinking too. Sanctions.

    A.W. (f97997)

  19. Holy crap, Harry Reid’s wife is in the hospital? Car wreck?

    If true, I hope its a case of overly cautious paramedics, rather than serious injury.

    A.W. (f97997)

  20. Is this an awesome political party, or what?

    Your three points highlight just how awesome the Republican are as obstructionists. They’re so good at it they’ve convinced the Democrats to do it for them.

    I’m nominating them for the Nobel Prize in Physics.

    WTFCI (26fd10)

  21. ACORN had no chance in Maryland… Baltimore, in particular. Too much racism to overcome.

    Eric "Da Pimp" Boehlert (d63092)

  22. A.W. – I hope the Reid women have as speedy a recovery as possible …

    Hmmm – “Alan W. Snader” – drove the tractor-trailer which rear-ended the Reid car – will the MSM find a connection to the Tea Party movement ? Or perhaps a connection to the Daley Machine in Chicago ? Or just another LaRouche Democrat doing his thing ?

    Alasdair (e7cb73)

  23. I third Dustin’s question and am glad to hear Beldar’s answer, would that it be the normative action in all states.

    MD in Philly (70a1ba)

  24. I bet the percentage of cases that results in sanctions is miniscule. Tiny. Hard to measure.

    JD (cc3aa7)


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