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Clifford Shoemaker Sanctioned for Unwarranted and Unseemly Conduct

Posted Nov 10 2008 5:54pm

Here's a bit of advice for anyone who may be foolishly considering abuse of the legal process to harass a blogger: Don't mess with a librarian.

Virginia attorney Clifford Shoemaker, who attained instant infamy in the blogosphere two months ago when he issued a ridiculously irrelevant subpoena to neurodiversity blogger Kathleen Seidel in an attempt to intimidate her after she wrote about his vaccine litigation profiteering, has been sanctioned by the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire. After the court quashed the subpoena in response to a well-crafted pro se motion, the court decided that sanctions were appropriate for Shoemaker's violations of Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b)(1) and Rule 45(c)(1) in serving "a grossly overly broad subpoena intended to harass."

The court gave short shrift to Shoemaker's rambling argument that the amount of information set forth in the blog entries was suspicious, observing that "Shoemaker has not offered a shred of evidence to support his speculations. He has, he says, had his suspicions aroused because she has so much information. Clearly he is unfamiliar with the extent of the information which a highly-competent librarian like Ms. Seidel can, and did, accumulate."

The court further stated that Shoemaker's "efforts to vilify and demean Ms. Seidel are unwarranted and unseemly" and that "Clifford J. Shoemaker’s action is an abuse of legal process, a waste of judicial resources and an unnecessary waste of the time and expense to the purported deponent."

Unfortunately, the court did not see fit to order Shoemaker to compensate Ms. Seidel for his waste of her time and expense. The court merely ordered him to attend a continuing legal education program on ethics and on the discovery rules in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The court did, however, direct its clerk "to forward a certified copy of this order, the motion to quash, the show cause order, and the response of Shoemaker and Seidel to the appropriate professional conduct committee of the Virginia State Bar in order that it may be made aware of Clifford J. Shoemaker’s conduct and so that those authorities may take whatever action they deem appropriate."

Perhaps there may be more sanctions in Shoemaker's future?

Labels: biomed, blogging

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