Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Latest correspondence in Stutz v. Larkins defamation suit

Here's the message I just send to Stutz law firm regarding its demands for changes in my website, pursuant to its defamation suit against me.

June 9, 2009

Dear Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff & Holtz:

A person can disagree with Stutz without saying or implying that Stutz' actions are illegal or unprofessional. Obviously, there was a parting of the ways between Stutz and Bob Gallagher. Bob clearly did not see eye to eye with Dan Shinoff, Ray Artiano, James Holtz, etc. There's nothing in the court order that prevents me from saying so. People are allowed to dislike Stutz law firm, and they're not legally required to keep their feelings secret.

And, conversely, Stutz is allowed to nurture whatever hostile feelings it wishes against me and others.

Some Stutz lawyers get so angry that one would hardly be surprised to see smoke rising from the top of their heads. Ray Artiano was so mad during his deposition that his face kept twitching. Kelly Angell pointed both her index fingers at me in court, with thumbs cocked as if she were shooting me with two guns at once. (And I'll bet Stutz doesn't even charge the taxpayers for the theatrics. Rage and fury are thrown in for no charge!)

Citizens are allowed to criticize the actions of public entities and other organizations, such as tax-free educational institutions like Californians Against Lawsuit Abuse. America is what it is because of freedom of speech. You have no authority to stop me from presenting my ideas about education and the justice system.

Stutz obtained a summary judgment that it didn't deserve in its defamation case against me. The judge didn't consider my evidence, and relied on the declaration of a man (Dan Shinoff) who refused to be deposed and refused to produce documents. I would think that Stutz wouldn't want to push this too far.

If I were Stutz, I'd quit while I was ahead. But I guess that sort of advice is lost on Stutz. Stutz has had so many chances to quit while it was ahead in my case, but didn't take advantage of any of them. You know when the perfect time would have been to settle with me? Feb. 11, 2003, the day my OAH decision came out. Or Dec. 18, 2004, when my Superior Court case got thrown out.

At that time I probably would have exchanged confidentiality for a song.

Why did Stutz wait until I was back up and running, with a successful website, and THEN ask me to keep my information under wraps? Honestly, sometimes I wonder if the guys in charge of your firm have common sense.

I've heard that Daniel Shinoff considers "The Art of War" to be his personal bible, but I don't think he's read it carefully. Charging ahead with as many weapons as you can muster is not always the best plan. Sometimes you can defang an opponent with a smile and a handshake.

Can you believe that our trial date is just a month away? Maybe that's what we should be focusing on, rather than whether it is defamatory to say that Bob Gallagher left the firm because he didn't like Stutz' tactics.

Maura Larkins

[Maura Larkins' comment: A report I found on NPR today helped me understand what's going on here. "Through their research, Kahneman and Tversky identified dozens of these biases and errors in judgment, which together painted a certain picture of the human animal. Human beings, it turns out, don't always make good decisions, and frequently the choices they do make aren't in their best interest...In other words, if the human brain is hard-wired to make serious errors, that implies all kinds of things about the need for regulation and protection."

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