Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Clifford Shoemaker Sanctioned for Unwarranted and Unseemly Conduct

Here's a bit of advice for anyone who may be foolishly considering abuse of the legal process to harass a blogger: Don't mess with a librarian.

Virginia attorney Clifford Shoemaker, who attained instant infamy in the blogosphere two months ago when he issued a ridiculously irrelevant subpoena to neurodiversity blogger Kathleen Seidel in an attempt to intimidate her after she wrote about his vaccine litigation profiteering, has been sanctioned by the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire. After the court quashed the subpoena in response to a well-crafted pro se motion, the court decided that sanctions were appropriate for Shoemaker's violations of Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b)(1) and Rule 45(c)(1) in serving "a grossly overly broad subpoena intended to harass."

The court gave short shrift to Shoemaker's rambling argument that the amount of information set forth in the blog entries was suspicious, observing that "Shoemaker has not offered a shred of evidence to support his speculations. He has, he says, had his suspicions aroused because she has so much information. Clearly he is unfamiliar with the extent of the information which a highly-competent librarian like Ms. Seidel can, and did, accumulate."

The court further stated that Shoemaker's "efforts to vilify and demean Ms. Seidel are unwarranted and unseemly" and that "Clifford J. Shoemaker’s action is an abuse of legal process, a waste of judicial resources and an unnecessary waste of the time and expense to the purported deponent."

Unfortunately, the court did not see fit to order Shoemaker to compensate Ms. Seidel for his waste of her time and expense. The court merely ordered him to attend a continuing legal education program on ethics and on the discovery rules in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The court did, however, direct its clerk "to forward a certified copy of this order, the motion to quash, the show cause order, and the response of Shoemaker and Seidel to the appropriate professional conduct committee of the Virginia State Bar in order that it may be made aware of Clifford J. Shoemaker’s conduct and so that those authorities may take whatever action they deem appropriate."

Perhaps there may be more sanctions in Shoemaker's future?

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  • "Clifford J. Shoemaker’s action is an abuse of legal process, a waste of judicial resources and an unnecessary waste of the time and expense to the purported deponent."

    The judge's remarks remind me of a line from the film Billy Madison:

    "Mr. Madison, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."

    By Blogger R. Gerald Lovejoy, at 9:52 PM  

  • The librarians will lead the revolution.

    By Anonymous sanabituranima, at 4:09 AM  

  • I am sooo glad to hear things have turned out this way. It would have been awful if the judge had done anything less. Forwarding to his local Bar/Authorities won't be the only thing that gets him more negative exposure. All of the followup on the blogs should help to point out when people query his name on the search engines and perhaps follow one of these links that this is a person who is not beyond Bullying and exceeding his proper authority to act.

    Though I still think that the Wrong Reverend should bear part of the burden of fault. As until these folks come up with real evidence through their probably incapable of producing it medical/therapy providers, it appears that at least Some of them are more out to live the easy life than provide much needed care, understanding, and acceptance of their affected offspring.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:08 PM  

  • (big OOPS)

    Forgot to point out the Love we need too.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:11 PM  

  • The revolution may not be televised, but it will be thoroughly researched, carefully catalogued and perfectly organised.

    Nice one judge!

    By Blogger Sharon, at 5:36 PM  

  • It is this kind of outcome (that is, the sanctioning of Shoemaker in light of his ridiculous subpoena antics) that makes me think there might actually be hope for humanity yet. :P

    By Blogger AnneC, at 11:10 PM  

  • I wonder how much of a punishment for Shoemaker will satisfy all of his snooty haters.

    By Blogger lurker, at 4:09 AM  

  • This is very important judgment, but I'm a little cautious about the tone of some posters.

    IMO, this isn't a time for glee. We should focus on respect for Kathleen, who has been put through a difficult time, and on the worrying activities of Mr Shoemaker.

    Wherever you look among the anti-vaccine/litigant organisations - be in the "scientists", doctors, attorneys or advocates - you see the same general calibre of individual, the same outpourings of hatred and abuse, and the same final end: more distress to those already suffering.

    This is a sad business.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:59 AM  

  • I'm not feeling "glee" personally - what I'm feeling is more like "relief", as it so often seems that irrationality and bullying are allowed to continue unfettered while innocent people get hurt.

    The fact that sanctions were applied in this case means that the bullies didn't win this time, and that good sense ultimately prevailed, and that the subpoena was officially recognized for being the attempt at harassment that it was. I'm not having cupcakes over it, just breathing a little easier.

    By Blogger AnneC, at 11:49 PM  

  • "more distress to those already suffering" That's a line that I'd imagine is said many times by lawyers for injuring corporations, in reference to worrying about the harmed people being involved in a trial, like it would cause the victims more distress, as if the lawyers care about the victims their clients hurt.

    Why do so many call their opponents "bullies" cause they don't like what they're doing? They seem to like to portray themselves out to be some meek little playground bullying victims. Nonsense. I wonder who can prove Shoemaker had such bad ethics. Many legal decisions aren't about what is just. They're frequently about who you know, who the judge is, what jurisdiction proceedings are happening in, etc. Not all about talent and ethics.

    By Blogger lurker, at 1:23 AM  

  • Lurker, you're seriously stuck on stupid here. The bullying reference is to the clear attempt by Shoemaker to shut down anything remotely approaching a criticism of the anti-vaccine/litigator nexus, not distract or mislead the uninformed (something you DAN people seem to have refined to a rare art).

    Typical Truther/Grassy Knoll/Big Pharma conspiracy approach: if it doesn't advance your world view, it must be a part of the conspiracy. In the next post, we'll doubtless be regaled with tales of how Shoemaker is actually a Black Flag covert operative for Big Pharma! Watch out Glaxo, we're on to you're schemes!!


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:31 PM  

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