The Spam Diaries

News and musings about the fight against spam.
 by Edward Falk

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Preparing for our motion allowing remote testimony

I'm being sued in North Dakota.

I don't live in North Dakota. I don't do business in North Dakota. I've never even set foot in North Dakota. I'm pretty sure rahul.net isn't located in North Dakota. So why, then, am I being sued in North Dakota? It's because Reynolds lives there, and he says my website is "targeted" at him, a North Dakota citizen.

Ok, so that's a bit of a stretch. Obviously, we're arguing that North Dakota has no say over what I write here in California. So who decides where jurisdiction really lies? You guessed it -- North Dakota does. So now we have to have a hearing in the court to decide where the trial will be. This means motions, counter-motions, and counter-counter motions. Affidavits, and briefs, and expert witnesses. It's a whole trial by itself, just to determine if I have to travel to North Dakota to be sued there. All of these things cost money, of course. (Which is just fine by Reynolds naturally; that's the whole point of a slapp suit.)

But get this: Normally in such circumstances, we'd do this by phone. In North Dakota, that's perfectly acceptable. You can even do a full-blown trial by phone. Welcome to the 21st century. But since the purpose of a slapp suit is to cost me money, Reynolds' lawyer, Harristhal, is insisting I appear in person for the hearing. That's right, I'm expected to travel 2000 miles to attend a hearing on whether or not I need to travel 2000 miles for a trial. Kind of defeats the purpose. Never mind that this could just as easily be done by phone. Never mind that the courthouse is set up for interactive video for just such an eventuality. Never mind that Harristhal himself often appears by video rather than in person. No, he insists that I have to travel to North Dakota.

So now we have another round of motions and counter-motions and counter-counter motions leading up to another hearing. Just to decide on how the hearing will be conducted to decide where the trial will be conducted.

Ok, let's get this preliminary pre-trial hearing underway.

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