Comments

  1. whheydt says

    Re: PZ Myers @ #4…
    Yeah…I read (waded) through the decision. I take it from your remarks that Ohio has little or no anti_SLAPP law on the books. Also, as I read it, the judge basically said that if he wants to refile, he should do so in the states where each of you are, so three separate cases.

  2. Hj Hornbeck says

    Thank goodness! The news doesn’t quite put me at ease, though.

    [Carrier] appears to be an independent scholar that earns most of his money from online courses, yet his legal bills must be substantial, which suggests one or more people are subsidizing his lawsuit. Even if he didn’t have a sponsor at the start, he likely has one now. How much money are those people willing to sink into griefing FtB/The Orbit/Skepticon? If Carrier’s move was to set up this lawsuit, that suggests he or his possible backers know the legal system, know how expensive it can be, and hold a substantial grudge.

  3. says

    Yeah, he could cause us more grief by refiling. But I think it’s got to be making him miserable, too, and besides, he’s still getting invites to cons and doing lecture tours, which means his claim that this damages his career is demonstrably false. And he’d have to file in a state that gives us a chance to hit him for damages. Even a deep-pockets daddy is going to think twice about backing a futile gesture.

  4. says

    Glad the lawsuit was dismissed, although disappointing that the threat of lawsuits in other jurisdictions still remains.

    Several months ago I wrote a post, never published, about how ridiculous Carrier’s case is. In his call for crowdfunding he said he wants “a fair discussion of the actual evidence”; however, his own legal threats have effectively squelched any such discussion.

  5. James Hammond says

    @Hj Hornbeck, #9

    As I understand it (IANAL), even being dismissed “with prejudice” would still permit Carrier to refile in another state. (Yes, I read your link to the definition.) The court does not have authority to say what cases other jurisdictions can accept. Because of dismissal “without prejudice”, he could even refile in Ohio. He would just need to find facts and/or evidence to cure the defect for which it was dismissed. He can also appeal the decision to dismiss. So, even worse – I can out-grump you!

    Now the good news. I don’t think he’ll appeal, or refile in OH. The conclusion of the court was pretty cut-and-dried, and solid. I don’t think he has any new facts to allege in order to fix his case for jurisdiction.

    Better: The statute of limitations for filing a suit for defamation (depending on state) is at most 2 years, and that has passed for anything he was complaining about. My understanding based on reading the filings in the case is that he would have to ask the court for an extension of the statute of limitations (“equitable tolling”). This can be granted in certain circumstances, but I’ve read in online articles about it that “I wasted my time filing in the wrong jurisdiction” is definitely not one of those circumstances.

    –James

  6. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Conga-rats PZ. Hopefully he, or his lawyer in an anti-SLAPP state, will finally see the futility of further filings.

  7. hemidactylus says

    Celebrate with beer or wine, not everclear. This is a smart-drinking PSA ironically after some pretty strong oatmeal stout. Congrats!

  8. wajim says

    Very cool. Smart tack by your lawyer, I’d say, even as RC could re-file in another venue. Curious, do you guys plan to hold onto donated legal funds (whatever may remain) for a time (in case RC may come at you again) or have you plans for a donation to a worthy cause, gratuitous bacchanal, or say, a fifty-foot inflatable RC-mocking blimp (re: the UK “Trump Baby”) you could tether to an appropriate interstate road sign? (That last one may invite another lawsuit, but would be freakin’ hilarious.)

  9. screechymonkey says

    Congratulations. Hopefully this is the end of it. And hopefully one day we’ll have strong anti-SLAPP laws in every state, and a good federal one as well. (Federal courts are still sorting out the extent to which the various state anti-SLAPP laws apply in federal cases.)

    James Hammond @14,

    As I understand it (IANAL), even being dismissed “with prejudice” would still permit Carrier to refile in another state. (Yes, I read your link to the definition.) The court does not have authority to say what cases other jurisdictions can accept.

    That’s… not really accurate. Or rather, it’s only correct in the most technical sense (“the best kind of correct!”) — yeah, you can re-file a suit that was dismissed with prejudice in another state, but it will promptly be dismissed on the basis of res judicata/claim preclusion, and you’re running a serious risk of sanctions. (Just like how the answer to “can someone sue me for [fill in the blank]” is always “if they have access to a word processor, can find their way to a courthouse, and pay a filing fee, yes.”)

    It’s not so much whether the court “has authority to say what cases other jurisdictions can accept,” (among other things, trial level courts don’t really “accept” or reject cases), it’s more that the Constitution requires state courts to respect and uphold the judgments of (1) courts of other states (under the Full Faith and Credit Clause); and (2) federal courts (under the Supremacy Clause).

  10. mmason0071 says

    I admit I kind of skipped to the ending, but it seems that the decision was based on the lack of any substantive connection to the state of Ohio where it was filed, not on the silliness of the charges. Hope he is too broke to re-file in other jurisdictions.

  11. hoku says

    Congratulations.

    Couple of thoughts after reading the order. First, the section on the Calder test is a good example of comparing and distinguishing in legal analysis. Non-lawyers would be well served to look it over before they opine about how two legal cases are the same.

    Second, I don’t understand how Carrier’s lawyers are so bad. The jurisdictional issues in this case were clear, and he was never going to clear that bar. Seems like the only reasonable options would have been to bring it in California or maybe Minnesota. Bringing it in Ohio just meant that he was wasting a bunch of time for both of you, but he’s the one who was on a clock.

    California and Arizona both have one year statutes of limitations on this kind of case, Minnesota is two years. And equitable tolling generally means there was some extraordinary circumstance preventing them from filing. I’ve never seen it allowed just because they screwed up the jurisdiction.

    And I really don’t know why they thought the current judge was the one to decide if they could toll other states statutes. That just confused me. My only guess is that it was a desperate attempt by the lawyers to look like they were doing something.

    So again, congratulations. This must have sucked, but at least it’s over.

  12. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    I mean, it’s not quite “living in a civilized country where rat fuck lawyers don’t dare file completely worthless lawsuits just to try to intimidate/bully/punish people who are in the right,” but it’s a start.

    Hopefully this is the end of it. And hopefully one day we’ll have strong anti-SLAPP laws in every state, and a good federal one as well.

    I suggest “Loser Pays in all 50 states and federal, and filing a SLAPP as plaintiff OR plaintiff’s counsel is a felony.”

  13. barbaz says

    Somehow the verdict reads as if it all depended on the fact that you folks did not know he moved to Ohio. I’m happy that you won, but this seems like a weird reason.

  14. raven says

    I wouldn’t call it a complete huge victory yet.
    The case was dismissed on technical grounds, lack of jurisdiction in Ohio, without prejudice.
    But it is still good news.

    And if he refiles it somewhere else, so what?
    This case is a SLAPP suit and should be ruled as such at the start in whichever state it might get refiled in.
    And then go after Richard the creepy guy and his backers for your legal costs.
    In a SLAPP suit, loser pays the court costs and your attorneys.
    Carrier indeed might have deep pocket backers like that guy in Milwaukee.
    I know he can afford to pay PZ Myer’s et al. legal fees.

    I once contributed to a legal defense fund where a librarian in Utah was being persecuted by a fascist Mormon county official because he didn’t like some of the library’s books.
    She won.
    I got my money back because the judge made the county pay for her legal defense!!!
    Some of the best money I couldn’t really afford at the time and spent anyway ever.

  15. raven says

    PZ Myers:
    …he’s still getting invites to cons and doing lecture tours, which means his claim that this damages his career is demonstrably false.

    Hard to imagine that.
    Richard Carrier IMO, totally blew up his credibility as anything other than a creepy slime mold taking up space under a rock somewhere that could be better used by spiders or terrestrial isopods.

    I suppose there must be an Internet Dark Side somewhere, for people like him, Jordan Peterson, Ann Coulter, Sam Haris, etc. and the other negatives of our society.
    I hope I don’t accidently visit it though.

  16. Dunc says

    hoku, @ #27:

    Second, I don’t understand how Carrier’s lawyers are so bad. The jurisdictional issues in this case were clear, and he was never going to clear that bar. Seems like the only reasonable options would have been to bring it in California or maybe Minnesota. Bringing it in Ohio just meant that he was wasting a bunch of time for both of you, but he’s the one who was on a clock.

    That’s assuming that his objective was to win in court. I suspect that his real hope was that the defendants would fold without it going that far, hence the choice of a state without SLAPP protections.

  17. KG says

    Congratulations – but my guess is that an obsessive narcissist like Carrier won’t stop at this point.

  18. zenlike says

    Sorry to be the party pooper:

    ***Update***: Carrier tells me, “If I can find affordable counsel I’m just going to refile in their jurisdictions, going after each of them separately.”

    https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2018/11/15/judge-dismisses-richard-carriers-defamation-lawsuit-against-atheist-bloggers/

    If he will end up successful (in filing the suits, winning is beyond laughable) is of course the question, but there is at least the intent to do so. I hope he gets some good legal council, who will try to talk him out of this madness, because he is only making a bigger ass out of himself, at great personal cost.

  19. hoku says

    zenlike, @ #37:

    The problem for him is that the statute of limitations has run in all those jurisdictions. And there isn’t really an exception for “I filled in the wrong location and wasted my own time.” That’s why he tried to get the Ohio court to apply equitable tolling, only to be reminded that they don’t have the power to do that for other states.

  20. hoku says

    Dunc, @ #35:

    I get that he might have been trying to just bleed them, but things like asking the judge to toll other states statutes of limitations just points to bad lawyering. That’s like asking your electric company to fix your DirecTV.

  21. raven says

    ***Update***: Carrier tells me, “If I can find affordable counsel I’m just going to refile in their jurisdictions, going after each of them separately.”

    Sounds unlikely.
    Going after people separately makes the whole thing more expensive by about the number of separate lawsuits he files.
    And from what I’ve seen of Richard Carrier, “affordable” probably means either “free” or “deep pocketed but otherwise clueless patrons”.
    And filing a SLAPP suit in an anti-SLAPP suit jurisdiction has its own problems. Carrier is likely to lose IMO and end up paying the court costs and his victims lawyers as well.
    I don’t know if his hypothetical sugar daddy backers or works for free lawyers would be liable for those as well, but who knows, if they are part of the problem maybe they are liable.

    Raven @ 34 Richard Carrier IMO, totally blew up his credibility as anything other than a creepy slime mold taking up space under a rock somewhere that could be better used by spiders or terrestrial isopods.

    Maybe he will sue me. I just wrote something derogatory about him. Again. I’ve got a long history of that by now. I’ve also contributed a fair amount in several donations to the PZ Myers et al. legal defense fund.
    I could care less.
    I live in an anti-SLAPP suit state on the west coast.
    It wouldn’t bother me one bit to go to court against him.

  22. says

    ScreechyMonkey is partly right… but there’s a critical distinction. A dismissal for want of personal jurisdiction is not a judgment, as it is not on the merits of the action itself; and therefore no res judicata or other preclusion doctrine would apply in another state’s court. Most state courts will equitably toll their statute of limitations (see below) while a case is pending in another state’s courts and gets dismissed for something other than the merits. (Of course, if filed in a state court this should be removed to federal court so fast the air would crackle.)

    But…

    But…

    And yet again, but…

    Many states also have a statute of repose for defamation claims. A statute of limitations can be equitably tolled for a variety of reasons, such as “I didn’t find out about the lies until well after they had been made,” “I was under 18 at the time of the lies and therefore didn’t have capacity to sue,” or the aforementioned “the matter was timely filed in another jurisdiction and was dismissed on procedural grounds without an adverse judgment on the merits.” The statute of repose, which is longer, is not subject to tolling. A statute of repose is an absolute cutoff on the filing of the suit, no matter what the “excuses” offered (even when justice would otherwise require tolling).

    And some other states are much more expansive with both their jurisdictional and their substantive law regarding defamation. If you read the opinion, much of Carrier’s problem came because Ohio is an “enumerated acts” state, not a “limits of due process” state, for personal jurisdiction. That’s actually the minority position these days, and there’s a simple solution a few miles south: Tennessee. (Y’all really don’t think the music industry in Nashville has refrained from warping the law to its own benefit; Elvis’s estate certainly hasn’t…) And going farther south, Florida springs to mind; or, if your scholarly interests include the hypertechnical area of “conflicts of laws” (like mine do), New Hampshire and the longrunning feud between Bob Guccione and Larry Flynt will come to mind… because personal jurisdiction and statutes of limitations in New Hampshire became a U.S. Supreme Court case.

    So this is good news. It’s nowhere near final. And I would seriously consider asking my own lawyer whether a § 1928 motion might be appropriate… but, again, that’s getting into hypertechnical stuff.

  23. Akira MacKenzie says

    Ugh! Don’t go reading the comments on the Friendly Atheist. Some of the “FREEZE PEACH” anti-SJW slugs have crawled out from under their rocks to piss on all things FTB.

  24. Holms says

    If the case is dropped, this seems to be a good time to repost everything that was said about Carrier…

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