In case you’ve forgotten, I have not. As a cheerleader for Shirley Sherrod in her defamation lawsuit against dead Andrew Breitbart, I found this today, from Legal Times: Judge Decries ‘Wild Goose Chase’ in Breitbart-Sherrod Case | Legal Times.
I get so many search strings on the subject of depositions, I expect a lot of you will read this judge’s determination with great interest, since it involves deposing a key witness who is resisting being deposed. In this case, it’s a U.S. Cabinet officer, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Who is not only a key witness. Because he bowed almost immediately to Breitbart’s defamatory accusations against Sherrod, and fired her without reviewing the facts, he is the witness in providing Sherrod’s damages.
The judge, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, has made a crusty appearance previously on Sidebar, also regarding a key witness who did not show up for a deposition. From a March 2011 Legal Times:
Judge strikes former SEC head as expert witness in Fannie Mae securities fraud case
Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Harvey Pitt as an expert witness today, following Pitt’s decision a week ago to cut short his own deposition in a securities fraud class action against Fannie Mae.
According to Robert Stern of O’Melveny & Myers, one of the attorneys representing Fannie Mae, Leon criticized Pitt – who was not in the courtroom – saying it was inappropriate of him to walk out of the deposition.
Stern said Leon also had strong words for Stanley Chesley, the lead counsel for the plaintiffs; during a status hearing Wednesday, Chesley had told Leon that Pitt was out of town, but Stern said the defense presented evidence to the judge today showing that Pitt was in D.C. at the time. Chesley, of Cincinnati’s Waite, Schneider, Bayless & Chesley, was not in court, but Leon addressed Chesley’s co-counsel James Cummins, also of Waite, Schneider, Bayless & Chesley, about the issue, Stern said. Cummins could not immediately be reached for comment.
Mostly, though, I want to point up how long it can take any case to get through the discovery stage of a lawsuit (of which depositions are a part). I’m still cheering on Shirley Sherrod and offering her encouragement: be patient.
UPDATE 10/2/2015. From today’s Legal Times, Shirley Sherrod settled her case against (the dead) Andrew Breitbart.
This was such an egregious case of defamation, I trust she got a hefty settlement, although I suppose statements regarding the amount will be subject to a confidentiality agreement.
Even if I never find out how much she got from (dead) Breitbart, I’m happy for her and happy that her case should be a warning to all other fact-free self-proclaimed pundits: you can’t spew lies about people with impunity.