Friday, September 08, 2006

Today's Special: Crow

As promised, though somewhat tardily (apology below), here is the bit of news that I promised late Wednesday night. For what it's worth, anticipation sent my hits over 500 yesterday for the first time ever.

It seems that the ethic charges filed against Faisal M. Gill and Jad N. Sarsour have been dismissed, as reported to me by Faisal Gill.

Notwithstanding my professional credentials, I'm actually not a fan of litigation to resolve disputes, particularly when it involves people I know and, in fact, like (well, two out of three, anyway). Hence, the entire Chapman v. Black Velvet Bruce Lee and Greg Letieqc saga bothers me. I would have much preferred it if the now-Defendants had behaved with more dignity, and frequently warned them that their behavior might be actionable. Steve might have wisely spent some time persuading Greg (at least) that he is not the buffoon that he was portrayed to be (AWCheney and/or BVBL are too far gone to bother).

However, litigation is a last resort, and usually preferable to the alternatives. In this case, like the alternative of allowing Internet smears to go unanswered.

I've not said much here, mostly offering my comments elsewhere. 'Fact is, as I've repeatedly said, the Internet is a singularly lousy place to debate legal issues and/or resolve legal disputes, and I will do my best to avoid the temptation to be drawn in to such discussions. Particularly where, as here, I am not an expert on the law of libel and/or slander and/or defamation. However, here I report an outcome.

You will also note that a link to the website in question (or more accurately, Greg's revamped version) does not appear to the right. No one has asked why, but here it is: I long ago made the decision to not dignify it with a link. There are certainly other contemptible websites linked in my blogroll, but BVBL in its prior incarnation was a special breed of slime. And even though Greg has done yeoman's work of late there regarding the Miller/Rishell and Wolf/Feder races, he persists in maintaining the name, or a variation on it. So long as he does so, one cannot get there from here, except under special circumstances (such as these).

With that in mind, much sound and fury over the lawsuit appears in the blogosphere. Greg comments upon it --- to my mind, unwisely, as a defendant --- frequently. It also seems to me that he goes off half-cocked, and offers singularly uninformed comments and conclusions. He has even set up a legal defense fund, and yes, I suppose that you can find out about contributing by clicking on the link. I will not be joining you in doing so.

Others have commented as well, as follows: Commonwealth Conservative said Steve Chapman is embarrasing himself; Virginia Virtucon gave not fewer than three offerings: Blog-a-thon, BVBL faces Legal Eagles over Chapman allegations, and Black Velvet if you Please; Ben Tribbett commented with Outrage and Chapman Lawsuit Continues; New Dominion said So Sue Me; Brian Patton said Bloggers Beware; F--- U., ... er, F.T. Rea gave his SLANT with Black Velvet Bruce Lee Sue-icide; Norm at One Man’s Trash had a few comments on The JD Investigates; Virginia Centrist commented somewhat inaccurately with Blogger threatened by public official; and the boys at Free Republic had this headline: Candidate misses filing deadline; Claims blogger distracted him; Files $200K lawsuit.

Greg has, himself, offered numerous commentaries, variously defiant and plaintive (as opposed to "plaintiff"). Most importantly, for my purposes here, he touted the fact that an ethics complaint was filed against Chapman's attorneys on 31 May, alleging twelve --- count 'em, twelve! --- separate counts of professional misconduct. Now, Greg doesn't identify the individual filing this complaint, and has yet to post anything on the outcome. He commented upon it further here, as well.

Well, I've now received a copy of that ethics charge, filed by one Eric B. Bailey, listing a Richmond address. Oddly, in an ethics charge which raises, inter alia, issues relating to Chapman's attorney's letterhead, Bailey's letter does not have one. Nor is he listed in Martindale-Hubbell's on-line listing of attorneys, as either a Richmond attorney, or more generally, as a Virginia attorney. Indeed, the only "Eric B. Bailey" listed anywhere in the United States has a basic listing noting only that there is an "Eric B. Bailey" is in Morristown, New Jersey. The same one? Who knows? A Google search of the address turns up utterly nothing. A Yahoo search returns a map which looks curiously like a residential section of town (Mommy's house, perhaps?). Likewise, a search. There is not even a "Bailey" listed at that address within the Zip Code in the White or Yellow Pages, though I suppose that "Eric B. Bailey" might have an unlisted number.

Curious. One doesn't have to be an attorney to file an ethics complaint --- far from it --- but one would expect to find a charge which has all of the hallmarks of a legal document to have been filed by an attorney, particularly when it is filed by a stranger to the dispute.

Now, no one was more thoroughgoing and virulent in his condemnation of Steve's decision to bring his suit than the late --- and here, unlamented --- "Jaded JD." Before he shut down his blog, "JD" offered a whole series of posts --- four --- about Chapman and his lawyers. His analysis also had all of the hallmarks of a legal document; indeed, he holds himself out as an attorney.

One cannot help but wonder, is the late, unlamented "Jaded JD" actually "Eric B. Bailey"? After all, "Jaded JD" wrote of leaving the Commonwealth over our ever-so-passe views on homosexual perversion, leaving to teach at a northeastern law school. Seton Hall Law School is in Morristown (though no "Eric B. Bailey" is currently listed among its faculty). Hmmmm.

Or was "Eric B. Bailey" acting as an agent for someone else, perhaps "Jaded JD"? It could be quite serious if he was acting as an agent for BVBL and/or Greg, who "received word that an ethics complaint has been filed," presumably from the filer. Rule 3.4(i) of the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct states that "A lawyer shall not ... Present or threaten to present ... disciplinary charges solely to obtain an advantage in a civil matter." Under certain circumstances, the filing itself could constitute a violation of disciplinary rules.

Greg has touted the fact that the charge "alleges 12 separate counts of professional misconduct regarding the initial threat letter that was sent to BVBL." Wellllll, that's not quite true. It makes a few claims of violation, and states twelve points in support of that claim, but spinning that into "12 separate counts of professional misconduct" probably overstates the case.

You see, Faisal Gill, the first name on the firm's door of Chapman's counsel, provided those documents to me today. He is one of the targets of the charge.

Now, I wish I could treat you to gems from "Jaded JD's" pronouncements, since my recollection is that he was quite forceful and self-assured in his analysis of what he alleged to be Chapman's attorneys' unethical conduct.

But "Jaded JD's" blog has disappeared into the ether. It seems that you can find an occasional cached page, but I am unable to find the posts themselves.

One cannot help but wonder whether his decision to shut down that blog has something to do with the outcome of those ethics proceedings. You see, Faisal Gill has informed me that the VSB has orally informed him that the ethics charge filed against him and his associate has been dismissed. I wonder if Greg will tout that fact?

The arrogance of those who dismiss Chapman, his lawsuit, and even his lawyers offends me. Not because I supported Steve for the 2006 GOP nomination --- I probably would have ended up lending my rhetorical support to Jackson Miller for the GOP nomination, for what it is worth, as the objectively stronger and philosophically acceptable candidate --- but because the savagery and nastiness of their attacks was both uncalled for, and rooted in hidden agendas. To my mind, it constituted the Internet equivalent of terrorism, with mostly masked cowards attacking Chapman and his supporters over the fact that they dared to challenge Harry Parrish on matters of principle, principles to which most of them pay little more than lip service.

It also offends me professionally when people try to use the attorneys' ethics process in service of another agenda. In this case, it seems to be a political one, and/or, possibly, one related to the lawsuit.

I don't know if Chapman can prevail in his lawsuit. But if he can, one has to wonder whether these ethics charges, filed by an utterly obscure individual, were tacitly or knowingly a part of the campaign against him.

So it is only appropriate to publicize it when their elaborate claims and arguments fail, as has the charge against Chapman's attorneys. I have no illusions as to how many people will read this (though Ben's reference helps!). Much has been and probably will be written about Chapman's pending lawsuit. It would be a refreshing change if more of it were written honestly, with biases and loyalties fully disclosed, absent the bile that characterizes too many of those who have set themselves against him, and absent uninformed pronouncements about law and ethics. I don't know a great deal about Chapman's attorneys on a professional level (Gill is a personal friend and a political ally), but they certainly do not deserve the stain with which Chapman's foes have attempted to smear them.

The bile that characterizes Chapman's opponents needlessly turned a political dispute into a legal dispute, one which someone --- an officious intermeddler, at best --- has attempted to turn (unsuccessfully) into an ethical dispute. Let it be resolved by the legal process.

As for those who attacked Chapman's lawyers for daring to represent him, well, belly up to the bar. Today's Special is crow.

UPDATE: Well, no post I've ever written has ever provoked TWO phone calls, but this one did. One was from Eric B. Bailey, who among other comments asked me to remove the hyperlinks to his address, which is his home. Not wanting to facilitate any inappropriate response, I am pleased to do so. You'll just have to take my word for it.


Eric Bailey said...

To recap our phone conversation I am not a lawyer and I am not Jaded JD. I don't know Greg Letiecq or Black Velvet Bruce Lee or Steve Chapman or Faisal Gill. I've never had any communication with any of them about this or anything else.

I filed the complaint because it looked like Gill wasn't even a lawyer and it looked like Chapman was trying to use a friend to intimidate Greg Letiecq. I don't know if Greg slandered Steve Chapman or not. If he did then that's his responsibility.

No one asked me to file the complaint and I didn't do it as anyone's agent. I did send a copy to JD after I put it together to see what he thought. I didn't send it to Greg Letiecq or anyone else. Any information they got about the complaint came from JD or someone JD sent it to.

Thanks for taking my address out of the links.

James Young said...

Thanks for the comment.

I am a little curious, though, "Eric." Is it "Eric B. Bailey," or "E. Brandon Bailey," or simply "Brandon Bailey," when you're not trying to make mischief for Conservatives? Because if it is, that, too, would explain a lot.

Anonymous said...

Eric B. Bailey should get down on his hands and knees and thank God that filing a frivolous bar complaint is not actionable in Virginia. Virginia law stipulates that a complainant has total immunity to suit, even when the complainant makes frivolous and false charges, such as those he flung against Faisal Gill, Esq.

Otherwise his walnuts might have found themselves in a vice. If this had been done in the District of Columbia, on the other hand, I bet the ink would have yet to dry on the summons and complaint for defamation. DC has only a qualified immunity, easily overcome. If this had been a DC Bar Complaint, I might have even taken the case on contingency for Mr. Gill.

-Virginia Lawyer

James Young said...

Managed to figure out how to post this for today, so I'm moving a comment Virginia Lawyer put on the original post here, as follows:

At Fri Sep 08, 01:15:50 PM EDT, Anonymous said...

A few comments from a Virginia Lawyer who knows of what he speaks, copied from my post today at BVBL:

Greg, a few points:

1. While I cannot retrieve the original posts which prompted this lawsuit, if my creaky old memory serves, you endorsed in toto the comments of the so-called original BVBL. You are therefore liable for his comments under the legal concept of "republication." Liable, I might add, just as much as the originator of the comments. And as I remember the comments you made, they strike me as being classicly actionable.

2. Proving actual malice on your part was made pretty easy when, in response to Mr. Chapman's lawyer's letter, you posted something along the lines of "BITE ME." A jury can surely find this to be evidence of your malice against Mr. Chapman.

3. There are no "Motions to Dismiss" in Virginia civil procedure. In addition, it is unlikely that a Motion for Summary Judgment will succeed given points one and two.

4. The outcome of jury trials are notoriously unpredictable.

5. Getting a decision out of a jury is expensive.

6. "Millions for defense but not one cent for tribute" might be a good policy for nations, but not for private individuals of modest means. In this case, it'll probably be "tens of thousands" instead of millions, but even a rich lawyer like me doesn't like to waste tens of thousands. And that's if you win (not a high probability of that, I'd estimate it's more likely 50-50).

7. You say in this case that you want "justice". I love it when clients come to me demanding justice. It just means higher billables because I will leave no stone unturned in its pursuit. And turning legal stones is expensive.

8. James Young is right, you really ought to stop commenting on all of this. Everything you say can and will be used against you by your legal opponents.

9. By either filing a legal ethics complaint or encouraging others to file complaints against your opponents counsel, all you accomplished was infuriating them even more (and the last thing you want to do is infuriate a lawyer, who can make your life miserable - believe me, I've made people's lives miserable when they've unfairly attacked my clients and in the past).

10. Finally, those complaints, if they can be traced back to you in any way, could potentially be used against you in this lawsuit. In proving, for example, your malice. The fact that the ethics complaint was dismissed out of hand by the Bar Counsel would not sit well with any jury hearing your case, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

RE: "Proving actual malice on your part was made pretty easy when, in response to Mr. Chapman's lawyer's letter, you posted something along the lines of "BITE ME." A jury can surely find this to be evidence of your malice against Mr. Chapman"

It all depends on what species he wanted to bite him. We're hearing now that he's advised his lawyers to cite that he was talking to his dog, not to other bloggers. As such, he's hoping to use Virginia leash law and the fact that the leash on his dog broke and the dog started to growl at him because it wanted to go outside and dump, but could not because said master was too busy posting dog shit about Chapman in the Internet.

Doug in Mount Vernon said...

You're all pathetic.

Olav Bryant Smith said...

I know that you wrote this some time ago, and I just found about all of this through the Washington Post's article. But I thank you for your take, anyway. This weekend, the Post's story and editorial motivated me to write a blog about Letiecq and the question of the line between patriotism and McCarthyism. The Post's story of Letiecq has me wondering if he's a modern McCarthy-type character. If you're interested, it's

In any case,thanks for your views.

James Young said...

Thanks for reading and commenting, Olav. Interesting comment and post.

About your question, I am veeeery skeptical (get it?) about accusations of McCarthyism, since it's a charge which is frequently leveled, is nearly as frequently vacuous, and almost always actually practiced by those who make the charge. With that having been said, I run hot and cold on Greg; I vividly remember our first meeting, when he was the beneficiary of my demand for procedural integrity. He started off in PWC GOP politics owing me one (he expressed his gratitude at the time), but most frequently seems to apply Mao's maxim that "Gratitude is a disease of dogs." In any case, he could do (and probably does) a lot of good when he isn't engaged in personal vendettas.

Unfortunately, engaging in the latter diminishes much of the former which he is trying to accomplish.