Jones Day Threatens SLAPP Suit Against Detroit-Area Blogger

Jones Day, the third largest law firm on the planet, is focusing their weighty legal acumen and collective wrath upon the head of one lone Detroit-area blogger who dared to poke serious fun at their activities in the Detroit bankruptcy proceedings. Also found in the blogger’s sardonic cross hairs is one of the firm’s former associates, Kevyn Orr — aka, Detroit’s Emergency Manager — both parties are being scorched in parody by the outspoken blogger over their joint roles in looting the already decimated city coffers.

The anonymous writer titled the blog after the emergency manager, KevynOrr.com, and decided the best way to get his/her message across was through the time-honored art of parody — a form of critique of which those doing the public’s business should certainly be acquainted with in this country. However, the powers that be at the mega-law firm took exception to being included among the list of carpet-bagger corporations on the site, credited thusly:

“Detroit’s Economic Coup D’etat Has Been Brought to You By”…

The law firm was joined on the list by Bank of America, Chase, ALEC, UBS, Quicken Loans, among others — each appearing in the form of their official trade mark.

Jones Day is profiting handsomely over Detroit’s misfortune, to the tune of an $18 million contract, purportedly to help steer the Motor City through bankruptcy. Yet, they still had the billable hours to spare to pen this letter to the Detroit blogger:

Jones Day letter

colbert dominosYep, of the firm’s 2,500 lawyers, Ducatman is from a stable of 266 litigators at Jones Day who specialize in intellectual property law and want to send a message to bloggers and critics alike, inviting them to feel as though they’re putting their head in the lion’s mouth by making a statement through parody — a form of speech that enjoys first amendment protection. Had it not, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, along with their writers, would have long ago been silenced.

The type of suit they threatened the Detroit blogger with is commonly known as a SLAPP suitStrategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. They are typically filed by large corporate interests with the intention to censor, intimidate and silence activists and critics through costly, frivolous, and un-merited ligation. Jones Day was in the news several years ago for a SLAPP against another party over trademark infringement and links to their webpage. That suit settled, as these things frequently do.

Unfortunately for Jones Day, in this case, they’re just plain wrong with their claim — and they know it. Parody is protected speech, including the use of identifying marks and products. The Electronic Frontier Foundation replied to the cease and desist with a two-page screed citing the law firm for grossly misrepresenting their specious cause of action.

eff letter

You can read the full letter here.

Furthermore, a close inspection of the Jones Day cease and desist notice indicates it was copied to the domain registrar and web host Go Daddy at abuse@godaddy.com, with whom the blogger is presumably doing business. If Go Daddy takes any damaging resultant action against the blogger or causes the blogger to expend time and money fighting the claim, it could possibly open-up Jones Day to a lawsuit for “tortious interference with contractual relations”, i.e. messing with another party’s ability to do business.

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive”…

Sheesh! Corporate lawyers, like the firms they represent, often can’t see past the end of their up-turned patrician noses.

Orr lizardThus far, the site is still up and running, with the Jones Day logo in plain sight, but now it appears in two places: on the faux corporate sponsor list and also next to a caricature of Orr as an illuminati shape-shifting lizard person, wearing a human mask. Yes, there really are conspiracy theorists who truly believe the world is secretly ruled by lizards. In a poll conducted in April of 2013 by Public Policy Polling on the topic of conspiracy theories it was found that 4 percent of voters questioned held that peculiar belief.

Our mystery blogger cleverly employed that theme to make the point about Detroit existing in a state of Potemkin democracy.

DSCN0444Amy Kerr Hardin

 

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