A dish best served cold (and Salty)
In case you haven't seen it yet, here at last is Part 1 of what is intended to be a three-parter by Jason Jones, aka Salty Droid, one of my co-defendants in a failed defamation lawsuit brought against us and a few other real and imaginary defendants in January of this year by the comically but disturbingly daft Not-Doctor Leonard Coldwell. [Case number 15-CVS-2791, filed in the General Court of Justice, Superior Court Division, Guilford County, North Carolina]
The suit was dismissed nearly four months ago, but Jason was busy with other Matters of Consequence and is only now able to turn his attention to doing justice to this story of a most unjust lawsuit. And it appears to me that it was well worth the wait.
As many of you may recall, I wrote about this dumb lawsuit from my own perspective in May of this year, just after the case was voluntarily dismissed by the Plaintiff, but I told only a very small part of the story. For several reasons Jason has many more insights and much more hilarity to offer, and in the process he is accomplishing something I was not fully equipped to do: giving the lawyers who handled this utter sham of a case, William Franklin May and K.E. Krispen Culbertson of Greensboro, North Carolina, the smackdown they so richly deserve.
I feel that these lawyers deserve sanctions and that I deserve an apology from them, but for now Jason's efforts are providing more than a small measure of satisfaction for me. It almost makes up for the disappointment I felt when a mainstream-ish media outlet, after months of back-and-forth, killed this story, supposedly because the case had been dismissed and was no longer "a thing." Almost certainly it was not because the media outlet (which is constantly getting lawsuit threats about stories but runs with them anyway) had been intimidated by either the Plaintiff or his attorneys, whose lunatic accusations and threats against the reporter would have made for a richly humorous story. But that's water under the bridge. In the end, hobby bloggers, who lack both the safety net of dedicated legal teams and the promise of monetary compensation for their efforts, are the ones left to tell the stories from which other media, for various reasons, still shy.
Apart from his own knowledge of the law, Jason is able to flesh out this narrative in ways I could not because he engaged in extensive private communications with the lawyers. One topic of conversation among them was that they never properly served him, supposedly because they couldn't find his address, which is on the public record. This contrived logistical glitch gave rise to some more totally loony lies from Coldwell about how Jason was in hiding from service -- kind of a deja vu of the big and little fibs Lenny told during his last failed lawsuit against Jason, which was filed in February 2014 and dismissed by the judge in April 2014 "for want of prosecution."
In a February 2015 post Jason wrote a comical tale of May and Culbertson's attempts to pretend to serve him with the most recent suit, and he very briefly quoted some of their communications with him. But what he quoted there was just the tip of the iceberg... or should I say the tip of the pile of guano, because clearly, the Plaintiff in this case wasn't the only one who was displaying signs of being bat-crap crazy.
Jason also uploaded and provided links to most of the documents in this case, so you can see clear evidence of how I tried to respond and how the lawyers ignored my response and continued to try to intimidate me. On my own post I had only uploaded the original complaint and the notice of dismissal. So there's a lot of information about the case on Jason's post that hasn't been on this blog.
Questions without answers?
In this first installment of his new series Jason raised some interesting questions about issues that had both him and me (not to mention the North Carolina court, apparently) puzzled about the lawyers' true intentions. It appeared, even to my unschooled eye, that they were not proceeding in anything like a conventional and certainly not a very professional manner in response to the motions we filed, and particularly in regard to the process of discovery.
Jason also hints in his post about the ludicrous efforts by the lawyers to build a criminal case against him for helping me with my responses to the lawsuit. Jason -- who as of this writing is not licensed to practice law and, despite Coldwell's hysterical attempts at "exposing" him, has not pretended to be so licensed -- was simply a defendant acting as a friend to another defendant who had tried repeatedly but failed to get legal representation. He never claimed to be representing me in this case in any way. He never offered me legal advice and I never asked for it. But apparently the lawyers' and Lenny's little panties were in a wad because I responded in a timely manner to the complaint, and my response looked an awful lot like Jason's.
It appears that as a result of my response, that ace team went back to their crummy little office space in the shadow of the mighty Guilford County Courthouse, and spent some time and brain cells trying to cobble together a new pleading that included criminal charges against Jason for practicing law without a license. That wouldn't have gone anywhere either, as they had no grounds for a criminal case. But the total absurdity of suggestions of criminality did not stop their loose-cannon client from crowing about it prematurely to Jason in April, and, the month before that, bragging on Facebook about "criminal charges" and "arrest warrants."
In truth, no criminal charges were filed and no arrest warrants issued in this now-dismissed CIVIL case. So Coldwell lied... yet again. (I know I went on a bit about that in my May post, but it deserves a revisit.)
Were the discovery irregularities and the threats of a criminal case the results of incompetence on the lawyers' part, or were they simply trying to intimidate me and, as Jason wrote, to scare him away from helping me in order to "further isolate and terrify" me? After all, I seemed to be the main target of this joke of a multi-defendant pleading. And lawsuits can be terrifying or at the very least very stressful to us novices. I won't lie: it did stress me out at times, even though I knew I was not in the wrong and I had no intention of removing my blog posts. But many times unrepresented defendants, not knowing any better, are intimidated into responding to a suit in a way that does not serve their best interests. And it seems that Loony and his legals were banking on that happening with me. Fortunately I did not cave.
At any rate, judging from the attorneys' actions, including the original lawsuit, my guess is that incompetence and (sleazy but clumsy) intimidation strategies were both factors in this travesty.
There were so many flaws in the lawsuit beyond the obvious lack of jurisdiction. Although I was properly named in the original complaint, the web site address for Jason's blog was not properly named, nor was that of another co-defendant, RationalWiki. There was also further evidence of the attorneys' web ignorance as well, which Jason pokes fun of. And in case you haven't seen this one yet, here is another humorous jab at the stupidity of Culbertson & Associate's lawsuit on behalf of Leonard Coldwell, written by the same guy who, as it happens, also wrote the RationalWiki article on Coldwell.
Moreover the lawsuit got it all wrong regarding Jason's writings about Coldwell. The complaint against Jason focused on a September 2012 post he had written about a 2007 Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina police report on Coldwell [case number 2007-04652]. The claim on the lawsuit was that Jason had published the police report and other commentary "which falsely accuse Plaintiff of having forced a person or persons to have sex" -- but Jason never wrote such a thing. He didn't even publish the police report, only a very, very small portion of it. He captured the essence of the allegations of multiple complainants by combining their stories and scrambling details that might identify them. Essentially what he wrote was that the police report indicated that Coldwell had manipulated numerous women into having sex, under false pretenses. In other words, Jason never actually claimed that Leonard Coldwell is a rapist.
And I won't even get into all of the inaccuracies in the claims against me. Yes, they got my name and county and state correct. But that's about the extent of the accuracy. No specific blog posts were cited; words and concepts were simply lifted, seemingly at random, from various posts about Coldwell. Most of the allegations regarding specific things I had written about him were either paraphrases, quotations taken out of context or in a couple of cases were words that I had actually written about someone else (e.g., Kevin Trudeau) rather than Coldwell. Regarding other things I'd written about Coldwell that the complaint listed as false or obscene or abusive, I provided plenty of screen shots and links to source material to back up my writing.
The complaint also falsely said I was making money from writing about Coldwell and that because the things I had written were false (according to the complaint) I was engaging in deceptive advertising and fraud. And the complaint inaccurately claimed I had been asked and demanded previously to remove content about Coldwell from my blog. That is not the case. Until this January 2015 lawsuit I had never been asked or demanded to remove any content about Coldwell. In fact the complaint demanded a temporary and then permanent injunction to make me remove the content, but that was a pleading to the court, not an attempt to communicate directly with me.
Jason's post also raises another question: to what extent was Coldwell playing his lawyers and to what extent were they playing him? It appears to me that neither the Plaintiff nor his attorneys were being completely honest with each other. Dismissing the case was the only right thing to do, but a "righter" thing to do would have been for the lawyers to vet the client at the outset, and never to have taken the case in the first place. Let's hope that any future prospective attorneys will do their homework and discover that
Leonard Coldwell is a serial frivolous litigator.
And this man who claims to be such a brave hero and fighter is doing the very thing he has often accused Jason/Salty of doing: hiding. But there is nowhere left for him to hide, and now his stupidity has brought two more lawyers into the harsh and ugly glare of the spotlight that has been on Leonard Coldwell for years. And, contrary to what Culbertson & Associate might have once claimed about their now ex-client, this is not a false light, but the truest one there is.
I look forward to enjoying the next course in the Salty banquet. Meanwhile, here's that link to Part 1 again.