And so it ends, with a whimper. Regular readers know that I was sued — how long ago was it now? May of 2011?— along with about 80 other lawyers, law firms, media companies, and John Doe / pseudonymous defendants. The suit was brought by one Joseph Rakofsky.
In a nutshell, as per news articles and legal filings, Rakofsky obtained a lead to a new client while in the criminal court building in Manhattan. The new client had been indicted for murder in Washington D.C and he went down there to defend the case as his very first trial.
A mistrial was declared after a few days because, among other reasons, the presiding judge thought the defendant was not getting competent legal assistance within the meaning of the Sixth Amendment. The Washington Post published two articles on the subject, and law bloggers added much commentary that extended to the issues of Mr. Rakofsky’s advertising his services in jurisdictions where he is not admitted (including New York) and boasting of legal experience he did not possess.
Mr. Rakofsky proceeded to sue 74 different companies, people and other entities for defamation for discussing and opining on what transpired. After he was ridiculed on the Internet for having done so, he amended the complaint a few days later to add those that made fun of him, bringing the total to 81 defendants.
His attempt to amend yet again was shut down by the court when the action was dismissed. He filed a notice of appeal.
Rakofsky, using his third lawyer (not counting himself, as he is not admitted in New York, though he made some pro se appearances while between attorneys), conceded in September 2014 that “pursuing this appeal would be unproductive.” Yet he wanted an enlargement of time so that there could be a settlement conference. (Motion for leave to enlarge)
We opposed (as did others) saying that there was no point to a settlement conference since we would not give him “even one half-penny” for any claim that he thought he had. (Opposition to Motion)
And so, today, three years and nine months after it started, the motion was denied with this eloquent written opinion that only a lawyer could love:
Motion and appeal deemed withdrawn. Order
Since he conceded there was no reason to appeal, the Court deemed the motion withdrawn. And since they deemed the appeal withdrawn, then so too must the motion be deemed withdrawn.
While the word “dismissed” would sound so much better, I’m nevertheless happy to see this file headed to the old storage shed.
To my co-defendants who banded together in a big, old FU to this stupid lawsuit, in a staunch defense of First Amendment principles, I’m proud to have stood with you. And to those that gave him money or apologies and in the process surrendered your First Amendment rights to speak freely, you shall enjoy nothing but my scorn.
Elsewhere: Rakofsky v. Internet Dies With A Whimper (Randazza)
Updated (2/11/15): In the decision deeming the appeal withdrawn, there was a comment about a letter dated September 16, 2014. Letter? What letter? I didn’t receive no stinkin’ letter.
So I procured it from the court. And what do I find? That Rakofsky had (via his counsel) withdrawn his appeal with that letter, based on the fact that he wasn’t going to get a settlement conference.
But they never sent a copy to us, as required. Or, apparently, anyone else. In a case now legendary for fouling up just about every possible procedural rule, it is an ending that is, I think, just perfect. Here’s the letter:Letter withdrawing appeal 9.16.14