Nadia Naffe and I have settled her lawsuit against me. I am paying her nothing. I am retracting nothing. There are no secret promises. The lawsuit has been dismissed, in exchange for my waiving any claims for attorneys’ fees or costs.
Throughout this lawsuit I have vigorously defended my First Amendment rights, and continue to do so. I stand by what I have said about Ms. Naffe, and I remain free to criticize her in the future. I continue to believe Ms. Naffe’s lawsuit was a vehicle designed to silence me. Ms. Naffe sued my wife. Ms. Naffe even sued Steve Cooley — who at the time was the Los Angeles County District Attorney, and my boss.
I continue to believe these were obvious attempts to misuse the court system, to punish me for my speech about a matter of public interest. Recall that the trial judge threatened to sanction Ms. Naffe and her lawyer Jay Leiderman for, as the judge put it, “Plaintiff’s (and/or her counsel’s) willingness to play fast-and-loose with the language that is actually at issue here.”
In the end, these tactics were unsuccessful.
It was interesting to be a defendant in a frivolous lawsuit. I went through the experience of watching media outlets publish stories about this case that repeated Ms. Naffe’s allegations as if they were true. It will be interesting to see whether any of them report that the lawsuit has been settled, with nothing retracted, and not one cent paid to Ms. Naffe. Frankly, I doubt it. Big Media loves to repeat wild allegations made in frivolous lawsuits — but the dismissal of those lawsuits is, all too often, not considered newsworthy.
While litigation is never pleasant, this litigation had some positive effects. For example, it set an important Ninth Circuit free speech precedent, holding that public employees are allowed to discuss matters of public concern on their own time. I am proud to have had a part in setting that precedent. The courts have ruled that I did not act under color of law. I did not blog or tweet about Ms. Naffe on taxpayer time.
The best part about the experience was the support I received. Not only did you, the readers, stand by me, but three lawyers stepped up and helped me throughout the process. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to attorneys Ronald D. Coleman (from Likelihood of Confusion) and Kenneth P. White (from Popehat), who both worked endless hours on this case for zero pay — and came up with the strategy that made this result possible. I would like to thank also Eugene Volokh of UCLA Law School and the Volokh Conspiracy blog at the Washington Post. Eugene wrote an amicus brief supporting my position in the Ninth Circuit, where I prevailed on the “color of law” claim.
These gentlemen all did outstanding work — not so much for me, but for the cause of free speech. I was just an incidental beneficiary . . . but a very pleased and grateful one.
Please join me in thanking Ken White, Ron Coleman, and Eugene Volokh for their efforts in bringing home this victory.