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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Mann v. Steyn — Steyn goes his own way

In late 2012, climate scientist Michael Mann sued Mark Steyn, National Review, Rand Simberg and the Competitive Enterprise Institute for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.  Mann, creator of the infamous “hockey stick” climate temperature graph, objected to a blog post authored by Simberg on a CEI blog and quoted by Steyn on National Review Online.  So he took them to court.  The defendantsrefused to back down, and filed an anti-SLAPP motion seeking to dismiss Mann’s suit.
Those with an interest in climate policy have lined up on their respective sides — environmentalists supporting Mann, skeptics supporting Steyn, et al. — with some notable exceptions.  University of Berkeley law professor Dan Farber, for example, clearly shares Mann’s view of climate science and the urgency of climate change as a problem, but he nonetheless thinks Mann should lose his suit.  The offending blog comments, however tasteless or mistaken, represented the sincerely held beliefs of the authors, and the First Amendment protects even wrong-headed opinions.  This is even true when individuals wish to disagree with — or criticize — expert opinion...
...Steyn is again represented by legal counsel. That’s good for him.  But he has also decided to go his own way due to strategic differences with the other defendants.  Whereas NR and the others would like to see Mann’s suit dismissed, Steyn has decided to forgo procedural wrangling and would like a full trial on the merits as soon as possible.  As he recently explained:
I want to get to court as soon as possible, and put Michael E Mann, PhD (Doctor of Phraudology) on the stand under oath. I haven’t wasted two years on this guy to be denied my moment in court. That’s one reason I’ve countersued Mann. He thinks the DC Superior Court is competent to litigate his fraudulent “hockey stick”. Fine, let’s get it to a jury – before the sclerotic DC “justice” system’s procedural delays go on as long as the global-warming “pause”.
The remaining defendants – NR, CEI, and Simberg — have appealed the district court’s denial of their motion to dismiss the case under D.C.’s anti-SLAPP law, which was specifically enacted to make it easier to dismiss defamation suits, given their tendency to chill protected speech...

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