Chuck Johnson Responds to Gawker With 111-Page Fantasy Novel, Hilarity Ensues
Last night @AdamSteinbaugh downloaded and posted to Scribd one of the strangest and most incoherent legal documents ever submitted to a federal court: Chuck C. Johnson and his lawyer John Burns’ long-awaited (and several times postponed) reply to Gawker’s legal team. (I suspect large parts of this were written by Chuck himself, because it just reeks of his self-aggrandizing style.)
Here’s the document, folks; it checks in at 111 pages of sheer loony wonderfulness. And what you should know up front is that US courts in Missouri have a strict rule prohibiting filing motions longer than 15 pages. So right off the bat, he’s probably irritating the hell out of a federal judge by submitting this exceedingly verbose screed.
There’s so much whargarrbl and so many falsehoods in here I don’t even know where to start writing about it!
Chuck seems to be arguing that he’s a public figure who’s very famous for his journalism, but shouldn’t be considered a public figure when anyone says mean things about him. He’s simultaneously a world-renowned “journalist” and a very private figure with tender feelings that have been damaged by those meanies at Gawker and only $66 million will soothe them. For example:
However, prior to Defendants conspiring to manufacture disgusting rumors about him, which are provably false, Johnson was never a public figure for purposes of the topical areas of public defecation and bestiality.
He attempts to explain why he filed this suit in Missouri by bringing up the St. Louis Cardinals and the Michael Brown story, with this awesome heading:
Of course, anyone who actually followed Chuck’s “investigations” of Michael Brown knows he built the exact opposite of “good will.” He engaged in blatant, ugly race-baiting smears and on more than one occasion actually said Michael Brown deserved to die. Chuck spent no more than four days in Missouri, for a court hearing on his failed attempt to unseal Michael Brown’s juvenile records (in which he falsely claimed to have evidence Brown was convicted of second degree murder while underage) — and never actually went to Ferguson at all.
A cynic might conclude the case was filed in Missouri because that’s where Chuck Johnson’s lawyer John Burns is licensed to practice, and no other reason.
Typos abound, and some of them are hilarious.
Presumably, the court also can has cheezburgers.
There are about 50 pages in here that deal with Chuck’s alleged floor-pooping incident, for which he’s become a very famous public figure indeed. Chuck claims this rumor originated at Gawker — which is simply false. In fact, this rumor was first published at the blog Chuck himself maintained while an undergraduate at Claremont-McKenna, and those comments from 2011 remain visible to this day.
Here’s a true classic, destined to go down in history as one of the best section titles ever written in a legal document:
Then, after all of these words and incoherent arguments, Chuck’s attorney concludes with this:
For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs request that the Court deny Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss and Motion to Strike or Dismiss Pursuant to the California Anti-SLAPP Law. Alternatively, should the Court find in favor of Defendants, Plaintiffs pray that this Court grant them leave to file an amended complaint, that the court stay its determination as to Defendants’ Anti-SLAPP motion pending discovery, and that the Court, should it find jurisdiction lacking, transfer the case to a Federal District Court in California, and any other relief this Court deems just and proper.
Yes, he’s asking the judge to suspend all of Gawker’s motions and if he doesn’t, he’s pleading for the judge to allow him to file another lawsuit and allow them to do discovery despite Gawker’s anti-SLAPP motion (which blocks discovery), and then after all the absurd attempts to justify filing in Missouri… consents to transferring the case to California.
Also uploaded by Chuck’s lawyer last night, this fantastic affidavit:
last night, Chuck Johnson’s lawyer uploaded a bunch of exhibits, including the greatest affidavit in the world. pic.twitter.com/z9MAvXvsLY
I’ll let the lawyers out there deal with the legal issues raised by this humongous word salad, if indeed there are any legal issues. @AdamSteinbaugh is reportedly working on a post, and I’ll update with a link to it when it appears. But to my non-lawyer eyes, this looks like a total and complete fail, and I won’t be the least bit surprised to see the judge throw the book at Johnson and his legal eagle.
Here’s Adam Steinbaugh’s post, plunging into the legal weeds in search of something nourishing and not finding much: Lawsplainer: Why Chuck C. Johnson Is About to Get MOED Down.