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Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Unusual Courage of Mark Steyn

Mark Steyn does not suffer fools gladly. He’s a Canadian born conservative columnist with a rapier wit, not just slaying but flaying the object of his wrath. Here’s what he said about Michael Mann, the inventor of the discredited “hockey stock” in the ClimateGate fiasco.

Michael Mann was the man behind the fraudulent climate-change “hockey-stick” graph, the very ringmaster of the tree-ring circus. And, when the East Anglia emails came out, Penn State felt obliged to “investigate” Professor Mann. Graham Spanier, the Penn State president forced to resign over Sandusky, was the same cove who investigated Mann. And, as with Sandusky and Paterno, the college declined to find one of its star names guilty of any wrongdoing.

If an institution is prepared to cover up systemic statutory rape of minors, what won’t it cover up? Whether or not he’s “the Jerry Sandusky of climate change”, he remains the Michael Mann of climate change, in part because his “investigation” by a deeply corrupt administration was a joke.

Actually, Steyn was unusually mild here, but it was enough to get Mann to include Steyn, National Review, Rand Simberg and others in a lawsuit for defamation unless National Review deleted Steyn's post. National Review declined.

Mann decided to proceed with his suit which was heard in DC Superior Court under Judge Natalie Combs Greene. The latest development is that Judge Combs Greene had retired and because of errors her rulings for the plaintiff, Mann, have been voided and the case begins anew.

Steyn wrote an opinion piece on this development which is typical Steyn and pulls no punches.

Dr. Michael Mann’s lawyer, John Williams, filed a fraudulent complaint falsely representing his client as a Nobel Laureate, and accusing us of the hitherto unknown crime of defaming a Nobel Laureate.

After Charles C W Cooke and others exposed Dr. Mann’s serial misrepresentation of himself as a Nobel Prize winner, Mann’s counsel decided to file an amended complaint with the Nobel falsehood removed.

Among her many staggering incompetences, DC Superior Court judge Natalia Combs-Greene then denied NR’s motion to dismiss the fraudulent complaint while simultaneously permitting Mann’s lawyers to file an amended complaint.

The appellate judges have now tossed out anything relating to Mann’s original fraudulent complaint, including Judge Combs-Greene’s unbelievably careless ruling in which the obtuse jurist managed to confuse the defendants, and her subsequent ruling in which she chose to double-down on her own stupidity. Anything with Combs-Greene’s name on it has now been flushed down the toilet of history.

So everyone is starting afresh with a new judge, a new complaint from the plaintiff, and new motions to dismiss from the defendants. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that Mann’s misrepresentation of himself as a Nobel Laureate and Combs-Greene’s inept management of her case means that all parties have racked up significant six-figure sums just to get back to square one. In a real courthouse – in London, Toronto, Dublin, Singapore, Sydney – Dr Mann would be on the hook for what he has cost all the parties through his fraudulent complaint. But, this being quite the most insane “justice system” I have ever found myself in, instead the costs of the plaintiff’s vanity, his lawyer’s laziness and the judge’s incompetence must apparently be borne by everyone.

He went on to say that in many cases, it's not whether you win or lose, but the fact that you are forced to spend tons of money and time to defend yourself: "The process is the punishment."

That’s quite daring. I know of no one else who has had the courage to go after a judge while his case is still pending. Judges protect each other and pretend that much of the judiciary is not made up of lawyers who received a political appointment for toeing the party line. They pretend that many of their colleagues do not fold, spindle and mutilate the law to achieve their personal objectives. There are exceptions, of course, as there are in any occupation; there are good doctors and bad doctors, good investment managers and bad ones. But the Judiciary is by its nature, and the manner in which judges are made, a political animal. That is why appointments to the Supreme and inferior course are now bitter political and ideological battles.   Judges don’t simply read the law and decide a case based on the facts, in many cases the law is what they say it is and the law as written be damned.

To protect that power, judges have to make sure that the public continues to believe in the myth of judicial impartiality. That means that people who fail to pay proper obeisance to judges imperil their case and why lawyers will tell their clients to shut up lest they run afoul of a judge whose sees his role as enforcer of judicial supremacy.

All of which is a long way of saying that Mark Steyn is exceptionally brave for writing an article attacking a member of the judiciary as incompetent, careless, obtuse, confused and stupid. I am reminded of the quotation by Voltaire: “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” I have no doubt that Steyn is never going to be ruled – or cowed – by the judiciary.  My hat is off to him.

1 comment:

Wynne said...

I find this essay exceptionally thoughtful and well-written, and the content -- Steyn's character and the sorry state of the judicial system (indeed, the rule of law itself) -- to be relevant and timely. Thanks.