Gathering information

The injustice done to an individual is sometimes of service to the public. Facts are apt to alarm us more than the most dangerous principles. – The Letters of Junius

Now that you’ve started your war chest, the next step is developing your lawsuit chops.

First, gather information on all sorts of lawsuits. For this you need to read actual, not virtual, newspapers. If you read only a virtual newspaper (on line), you’re not reading the whole paper. Often it’s in the little stories, the ones you’ll never notice on line, where you’ll find key information.

And if you read online, you’re not getting your hands covered in newsprint, either. It’s important to get your hands covered in newsprint. Unless your hands are grimy with newsprint, you haven’t absorbed anything from that newspaper.

I read the New York Times and the Daily News every day. I have friends who question my Daily News reading. For certain stories the Daily News, a top-drawer tabloid, is best. Not only does it have great, hilarious headlines, good sports and gossip, it feeds me what I think of as the “crunchy bits” of a story. The New York Times will probably not be printing a story about, say, an 800 pound guy stuck in his bathtub and the details about his removal from said bathtub via thousands of what we now call first responders, as well as several construction cranes – one of which he might sue for hurting his back during the hoist and descent.

Any of your local newspapers in other parts of the country will be fine for similar crunchy bits, i.e, the human details.

Warning: Stay away from papers with a distinct political or religious point of view. You’re looking for news stories, not someone’s opinion about the news embedded in what purports to be a news story. You want to develop your own opinion before someone else develops it for you.

When Shirley Sherrod, fired from the Department of Agriculture in 2010 (Shirley Sherrod – The New York Times ) announced that she would sue right-wing blogger Andrew Breitbart for defamation, I was irritated to read Sam Stein’s commentary in the Huffington Post projecting the difficulties of this lawsuit. Although HuffPo’s regular writers are usually smart and informed, in my opinion Stein missed the central purpose of this lawsuit, and doesn’t really comprehend defamation.  Sherrod’s Suit Against Breitbart May Be Hurt By Her Quickly Repaired Reputation.

So don’t read some guy’s ideas about a lawsuit.  Read about the lawsuit.

As 18th century “Junius” and 20th century “Joe Friday” say, “Just the facts, ma’am.”

And go, Shirley Sherrod! I’ll be following your lawsuit and if Stein proves to be wrong, I’ll remind him.

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