Shoemaker slammed with Seidel-subpoena sanction

by Walter Olson on June 28, 2008

Our source describes it as “quite a slapdown” by the judge, good news for bloggers who may have been feeling chilled by the now-celebrated subpoena aimed by Virginia vaccine attorney Clifford Shoemaker at investigative blogger Kathleen Seidel, who had criticized him. (Neurodiversity, Jun. 23; ruling in PDF at Public Citizen, which defended Seidel; Orac, Citizen Media Law Project, Bug Girl).

I’m proud to note that I helped break the story in April and have posted regular updates since then.

Not directly related, but also of note from Kathleen Seidel’s blog: you’re not going to believe what some attorneys consider a source of credible evidence when pressing claims in the government’s Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (Jun. 13).

P.S. Comments take issue with its being “quite a slapdown”, and suggest that it was more like a slap on the wrist.

{ 6 comments }

1 C. Gage 06.28.08 at 3:21 pm

The attorney is specifically found to have issued a “grossly overbroad” subpoena to a non party on the day before he dismissed the case with prejudice for the purpose of harrassing and intimidating her and the sanction is to attend a CLE course on ethics and discovery?

That seems to be a very light wrist slap for abuse of process. What about a fine and Seidel’s legal fees (or a contribution to the organization that provided them pro bono)?

2 Todd Rogers 06.28.08 at 4:08 pm

In the immortal words of Homer (Simpson)…
Doohhh!

3 Bill Poser 06.28.08 at 7:46 pm

The court also forwarded the matter to the Virginia State Bar, which may impose additional discipline.

4 C. Gage 06.28.08 at 9:16 pm

“The court also forwarded the matter to the Virginia State Bar…”

True. But the additional discipline, if imposed, will not be a sanction for abuse of process. Rather, it will be for ethical violations, leaving the Rule 11 sanctions for abuse of process at attending a CLE course.

5 Ted Frank 06.29.08 at 7:13 am

It’s hard to believe that the problem here was ignorance, rather than malice. Indeed, to find a violation of Rule 11(b)(1), one must find bad faith. The sanctions are utterly insufficient.

6 Liz Ditz 07.13.08 at 12:36 am

I was one of the bloggers named in Shoemaker’s subpoena, which is my dog in the hunt.

You may find Seidel’s two latest posts of interest.

Billing the Adversary

http://www.neurodiversity.com/weblog/article/165

Numerous decisions issued over the twenty year history of the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) document the extent to which the limits on attorney compensation have been tested by practitioners seeking remuneration from its taxpayer-financed coffers. The following review summarizes decisions involving the recently-sanctioned VICP specialist Clifford Shoemaker, Esq. — a central instigator of the campaign to convince the public of the speculative, scientifically unsupported hypothesis that a significant number of cases of autism result from vaccine injury, co-founder of the Institute for Chronic Illnesses, and a founding member its Institutional Review Board, which sponsors and provides ethical oversight of medical research and experimentation on autistic children and adolescents conducted by his long-time colleague Dr. Mark Geier.

Inspecting the Outstretched Palm

http://neurodiversity.com/weblog/article/166/

The potential for procedural and billing improprieties by Vaccine Injury Compensation Program petitioners’ attorneys — especially those representing numerous clients with similar, speculative claims — is made painfully evident in Special Master Denise Vowell’s recent fee and cost decision in Carrington v. HHS, Case 99-495V (Fed.Cl.Spec.Mstr., June 18, 2008) (unpublished), posted to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims website three days ago.

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