They don’t learn. This time the attack is directed at autism blogger Kathleen Seidel. Kathleen had blogged about attorney Clifford Shoemaker (pictured right), who specializes in prosecuting claims filed in the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). Apparently Shoemaker frequently uses Mark Geier as an expert witness, which by itself should tell you all you need to know about Shoemaker. But Kathleen’s article dug a little more deeply into how attorneys like Shoemaker get paid for filing claims, regardless of their actual merit or end result. She listed the cases that Shoemaker had filed (and been paid for) in the previous 18 months – two thirds of which were dismissed as not satisfying even the relatively lax standard of proof required in these cases. Within hours of this post, Shoemaker issued an intimidatory subpoena.
But the subpoena had nothing to do with the actual article Kathleen had written. From Overlawyered:
The subpoena contains no indication that Seidel herself is accused of defaming anyone or violating any other legal rights of any party. Instead it seems she is being dragged in as a third-party witness in Shoemaker's suit on behalf of his clients, Rev. Lisa Sykes and Seth Sykes, against vaccine maker Bayer. Although Seidel has been a remarkably diligent blogger on autism-vaccine litigation, I can find no indication that she is in possession of specialized knowledge that Shoemaker would not be able to obtain for his clients through more ordinary means.
Instead, the first phrase that occurred to me on looking through the subpoena was "fishing expedition", and the second was "intimidation".
Indeed. The subpoena demands all documents, financial records and communications related to the creation and operation of her blog. This is to include all her financial records, and copies of all communications with a range of people, including what appears to be her entire autism blog roll. In it she is “COMMANDED to appear” in person at the court in New Hampshire (at her own expense, naturally). Since Kathleen is not a party to, nor has any special inside knowledge of, any of Shoemaker’s cases, it is obvious this is just an intimidatory tactic and an abuse of Shoemaker’s power as an attorney.
Kathleen has responded with a motion to quash. It ends with:
Kathleen Seidel prays her motion to quash this unconstitutional, unreasonable, irrelevant, excessive, invasive, burdensome, frivolous, and clearly retaliatory subpoena be ALLOWED.
Today Orac posted An open letter to David Kirby and Dan Olmsted about the Kathleen Seidel subpoena – an appeal to Kirby and Olmstead to use their influence in the autism movement to protest Shoemaker’s bullying tactics. Because, as one commenter wrote:
If I were on the legal team for Glaxo-SmithKline, Wyeth, Inc. and Bayer Pharmaceuticals Corporation, I would be preparing virtually identical subpoenas for David Kirby, Dan Olmsted, JB Handley, John Best, and all the "journalists" and bloggers associated with the Mercury Militia to be served the precise moment that the Judge rules the subpoena can go forward
Such action would perhaps provide some kind of grim satisfaction – to see these pseudoscientists hoist by their own petard. But it would be a hollow victory. If attorneys can shut down criticism this easily, using nothing but the threat of subpoena, most skeptical blogging will be at risk. One can only hope the judge will allow Kathleen’s motion to quash.
Popehat on attorney Clifford Shoemaker - Vaccine-Litigant Thuggery: Subpoenaed For Blogging
Overlawyered on attorney Clifford Shoemaker - Vaccine lawyer subpoenas Kathleen Seidel
I speak of Dreams on attorney Clifford Shoemaker – the snappily entitled Kathleen Seidel Slapped With Unconstitutional, Illegal, Barred by the Journalist’s Privilege, and Needlessly Invasive Subpoena
The Voyage on attorney Clifford Shoemaker - Neurodiversity Blogger Unfairly Subpoenaed
New York personal injury law blog on attorney Clifford Shoemaker - Abuse of Process: Blogger, Unrelated to Action, Hit With Subpoena
Legal Blog Watch on attorney Clifford Shoemaker - Blogger Subpoenaed for Influence