Larry Klayman, Failed Lawyer
WorldNetDaily's favorite lawyer loves filing lawsuits, which lately have been even more unsuccessful than usual.
By Terry Krepel
Larry Klayman made his name as a right-wing lawyer by using millions of dollars in funding from Richard Mellon Scaife to file dozens of nuisance lawsuits against the Clinton administration through his group, Judicial Watch. (When Klayman tried filing lawsuits against the Bush administration, however, the ConWeb buddies who fawned over his anti-Clinton activism wanted nothing to do with him.) At the same time, Klayman was suing his mother.
Klayman left Judicial Watch to run for a Senate seat in Florida, in which he finished seventh in an eight-person Republican primary despite (or, perhaps, because of) an endorsement by WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah.
Klayman then formed a Judicial Watch-esque group, Freedom Watch, while also suing Judicial Watch. The bad blood between Klayman and Judicial Watch continues; in a recent column, Klayman complained that a new book by current Judicial Watch chief Tom Fitton "chronicles my achievements at Judicial Watch but appears to attribute them to Fitton himself, who is not a lawyer and never appeared in court to advocate any case. ... Indeed, my name appears nowhere in the book, even in the index." Klayman, of course, has intimated legal action against Fitton over the book.
And last November, Klayman was reprimanded by the Florida bar for taking a $25,000 payment from a woman to represent her in a criminal case but failing to do any legal work for her. After he was ordered to return $5,000 of the money as agreed to in mediation, he failed to keep up the payments. Klayman claimed that his "financial situation continues to be dire." (He claims that he has since repaid the money.) Further, Klayman's license to practice law in Pennsylvania is under administrative suspension.
In short, Klayman is a hot mess of a lawyer. Yet he continues to file lawsuits -- with WND as a major client -- which are swiftly tossed out of court. Let's look at a few recent cases.
WND v. White House Correspondents Association
In 2010, WND threw a fit because the White House Correspondents Association wouldn't sell it the number of tickets it demanded in order to promote Les Kinsolving's nepotistic, WND-published bio (written by Kinsolving's daughter). At first, WND tried to intimidate the WHCA into giving it the tickets it wanted -- claiming that it was "doing the bidding of the Obama administration in trying to belittle, exclude and irreparably harm a leading Internet news outlet, WorldNetDaily, which has carried commentary critical of the president." Then, Klayman and WND filed a $10 million lawsuit against the WHCA claiming "harm to its business and other relationships" because of the WHCA's refusal to accede to its demands.
One curious thing about the WND story announcing the lawsuit: It never reported in which court the suit was filed. We've since learned it was the District of Columbia Superior Court.
Another curious thing: That story was pretty much the last anyone heard about the lawsuit from WND, aside from Klayman's threat to add the White House as a defendant. That's because the suit was dismissed almost immediately.
According to DC Superior Court records (case No. 2010-CA-002364), Klayman filed the case on April 13, 2010. On May 3, 2010, the WHCA filed a motion for dismissal, which was granted on June 22. The case was slapped down just over two months after its filing.
Adding insult to injury, the copy of the order sent to Klayman's office was returned was returned to the court because it was "Not Deliverable as Addressed, Unable to Forward." No wonder WND didn't want to talk about it anymore.
Even a year later, WND and Klayman didn't want to talk about it. When ConWebWatch queried Klayman during his and WND's dog-and-pony show announcing its lawsuit against Esquire as to why he didn't further pursue that lawsuit, Klayman brusquely replied: "Well, first of all, we decided not to pursue that. But the issue here is this case, not that case, so if you want to relive that case, we'll do that some other time."
WND v. Esquire
WND was absolutely livid about a May 2011 Esquire parody blog post claiming that WND is pulling Jerome Corsi's then-newly-released anti-Obama birther book "Where's the Birth Certificate?" out of stores because, according to a made-up quote from Farah, "this book has become problematic, and contains what I now believe to be factual inaccuracies." Lest anyone miss the parody aspect, the post also stated that Corsi also wrote a book called "Capricorn One: NASA, JFK, and the Great 'Moon Landing' Cover-Up" -- a reference to the similarly themed movie.
A May 18, 2011, WND article assailed the blog post as "a completely fabricated news story" that prompting editor Joseph Farah to descend even further into conspiracy mode by blaming the Obama White House for it. Here is an actual quote from Farah: "This has all the earmarkings of a White House dirty trick but, of course, only the Nixon administration was capable of dirty tricks like that, according to our watchdog media."
Farah seemed to have missed another parody aspect of Esquire's post: the real Joseph Farah would never have done something so reasonable as to withdraw Corsi's book -- there was birther money to be reaped, after all.
Nevertheless, Farah threatened to sue Esquire. And sue he did, represented once again by Klayman. The lawsuit was announced in a June 30, 2011, dog-and-pony show in a rented room at the National Press Club in Washington where participants in the presser outnumbered the reporters. Also in attendance were Corsi and self-proclaimed image expert Mara Zebest, both of whom spent their time on a tangental effort to demonstrate that Obama's birth certificate is fake, which had nothing whatsoever to do with the lawsuit.
As has become all too familiar for Klayman, his case got laughed out of court. WND let Klayman rant about it in a June 4 article, declaring the dismissal "significantly flawed and intellectually dishonest." Curiously missing from the article: the key evidence the judge used to dismiss the lawsuit.
As the ruling states, Farah "immediately recognized" that the Esquire article was satire -- telling the Daily Caller that the post was “a very poorly executed parody.” -- until it became "inconvenient" for him to do so. The judge added: "Political satire can be, and often is, uncomfortable to its targets, but that does not render it any less satiric or any less an expression on a topic of public concern."
That Klayman refused to address the key substantive part of the ruling while ranting about how horrible the ruling is shows you what kind of lawyer he is -- that is to say, not a good one.
Bradlee Dean v. Rachel Maddow
A July 26, 2011, WND article by Bob Unruh announced another Klayman legal venture: suing MSNBC host Rachel Maddow for $50 million on behalf of a Minnesota preacher named Bradlee Dean, whom he claims Maddow defamed by selectively editing a rant by Dean to suggest that he favors the execution of gays.
Unruh falsely suggested that Maddow ignored a disclaimer by Dean that he does not support the killing of gays; in fact, Maddow specifically said after airing the Dean clip: "Mr. Bradlee with two e's later clarified that he didn't really mean to sanction murder of gay people. He said, 'We have never and will never call for the execution of homosexuals.' Which is nice."
Unruh, of course, did not disclose his employer's conflict of interest by noting that Klayman is currently representing WND. He also ignored Dean's long history of anti-gay rhetoric (perhaps because WND himself is so anti-gay that its employees believe a ludicrous statement like Dean's claim that "On average, [homosexuals] molest 117 people before they’re found out" is documented fact); instead, Unruh serves as public relations agent for Bradlee and his ministry,You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International.
Unruh devoted a second article to the lawsuit the next day, focusing on Klayman and Dean's claim that Maddow was "trying to undercut the presidential campaign of U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and to do that attacked those with whom she has associated." In fact, only one of the two segments that mentioned Dean also mentioned Bachmann, and that was to note that the two would be sharing a stage at a "tea party nominating convention."
As has been a running theme, Klayman's lawsuit was essentially laughed out of court. You wouldn't know that by the way Klayman and his PR agents at WND spun it though.
Unruh used a July 10 WND article to obfuscate the facts of the dismissal, leading instead with Dean and his attorney, Larry Klayman, "asking that the judge in the case be removed because of her biased comments." It's not until after he rehashes the case in a biased manner favorable to Dean -- specifically, the 20th paragraph -- that Unruh gets around to reporting the big news in Dean's lawsuit: that the judge in question had ordered Dean to pay around $24,000 in legal fees to Maddow before she would permit Klayman's request to move the case from District of Columbia court to federal court in order to get around Maddow citing the District's anti-SLAPP laws in her defense.
Unruh uncritically repeated Dean and Klayman's claim that Maddow's "defense work would be equally applicable in the new filing in federal court," without explaining how a federal court can address legal fees for another lawsuit filed and withdrawn in another jurisdiction. Also, given that Dean and Klayman are admitting they're moving their lawsuit to federal court specifically to avoid the District's anti-SLAPP laws, Maddow's defense work could not directly be used since a different set of laws would apply.
Unruh also uncritically -- and selectively -- repeated Dean's complaints about the judge's alleged "biased comments," which included the laughable complaint that the judge "stated in her order that defendants lawyers are ‘distinguished,’" while not applying that description on Klayman. Unruh appears not to have considered the concept that Klayman's legal work, especially of late, is not "distinguished" at all -- or, more to the point, it's distinguished only by its record of failure. (And we haven't even gotten to his own status as a lawbreaker for refusing to pay child support.)
Unruh also cited Dean's complaint of the judge's "mockery of Klayman’s health issues," which according to the affidavit consisted of a broken leg that prevented him from traveling from California to the District of Columbia.
It seems like Dean has a case against Klayman for inadequate (or incompetent) representation. If Klayman's office is in D.C., why is he living in California?
Unruh failed to mention that Dean, in his affidavit, personally attacked the judge, calling her a "woman scorned." Insulting the judge is hardly the best way to successfully argue your case -- something Unruh seemed to recognize by not reporting it.
It's also a sign of Klayman's apparent incompetence as a lawyer that he thinks Dean's insult is acceptable to enter as evidence. No wonder he can't win a case.
Voeltz v. Obama
Klayman is the lawyer for Michael Voeltz, a Florida man who issued a legal challenge to Obama's name appearing on the ballot in Florida because, according to a May 16 WND article on the lawsuit, "There is credible evidence indicating that this electronically produced birth certificate is entirely fraudulent or otherwise altered." The article quotes Klayman as being totally down with the birther conspiracists: "The eligibility of defendant Obama must be dealt with now. Plaintiff Voeltz, and the rest of the electors in the state of Florida, must be assured that if they cast their votes for defendant Obama in the general election that their votes will not be in vain."
Klayman's main argument in the Voeltz case was that Florida's Democratic presidential primary (which wasn't actually held) had "elected and nominated" Obama as Florida’s nominee for president and, thus, he has been opened up for challenges to his "eligibility." But as the Obama Conspiracy blog points out, Florida state law considers a primary winner to be a "candidate for nomination," not actually nominated, and there is no eligibility requirement in a preference primary, thus giving Klayman no legal basis upon which to sue.
“The decision issued today by Judge Terry Lewis was poorly reasoned and written,” Klayman asserts. “It goes against prior Florida Supreme Court precedent in particular, thus making our chances on appeal great. … In any event, Plaintiff Micheal Voeltz filed a new complaint today for declaratory relief, which will, in addition to his appeal, now proceed forward. In short, we remain confidant that if the Florida courts ultimately decide to obey their own election law, we will prevail in the end.”
Despite the judge dismissing the lawsuit with prejudice, Klayman announced plans to appeal.
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Klayman has been batting zero in court for quite some time now. You'd think that would give his clients -- especially WND -- pause regarding his competence as a lawyer. Apparently not.