For the benefit of those not already following it obsessively, this post will compile the most recent publicly available developments relating to the Rakofsky litigation, in which Joseph Rakofsky is suing an array of media organizations, professional organizations and, above all, individual legal bloggers, claiming that he has been damaged by their publication of reporting and commentary on a murder trial in Washington, D.C., in which Mr. Rakofsky served for a time as defense counsel. This may be the first in a series of roughly weekly updates, or it may be a one-off. If new developments and public interest warrant it, I will compile and post on the case in the future. If not, then not.
I am a defendant in the Rakofsky case, because of my having written this post; I commented on my involvement in the action here. To the extent that I may have any non-public information concerning the case, I will not be sharing it.
Here, then, are the highlights of Rakofsky, Week 2.
The Complaint in the case of Joseph Rakofsky, et. al. v. The Washington Post Company, et al., New York Supreme Court*, County of New York Case
No. 10557-2011, was filed on May 11, 2011. That complaint named 74 defendants and stated two theories of recovery: defamation [libel] and violation of New York's Civil Rights law. A copy of the Complaint has been uploaded by [defendant] Mark Bennett, here.
On May 13, the lawsuit's existence was announced to the world by [defendant] Scott Greenfield on his Simple Justice blog in a post that gave to it the name by which it is now universally known: Rakofsky v. Internet.
This past Monday, May 16, Joseph Rakofsky and his attorney filed an Amended Complaint. That new pleading increases the number of defendants from 74 to 81, largely by adding parties who wrote or blogged about the Rakofsky v. Internet action itself in the first few days after it was filed. The Amended Complaint also expands the plaintiff's legal theories. In addition to the original defamation and civil rights claims, the Amended Complaint adds counts alleging "Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress" and "Intentional Interference with Contract." A copy of the Amended Complaint is being hosted by [non-defendant, so far] Keith Lee at An Associate's Mind.
Because the case is still so new, there have been no filings with the Court apart from the first and second versions of the Complaint. The particular defendants who have been served with the complaint, or on whom Rakofsky may claim he has accomplished service, is not yet a matter of record.
[Defendant] Mark Bennett is maintaining an ongoing compendium of links to Rakofsky-related posts on his blog, Defending People. My own selection of links below is purely subjective and not comprehensive. I strongly recommend prowling through the Compendio Bennetticus for the full range of responses.
On his New York Personal Injury Law Blog, [defendant] Eric Turkewitz issued what is possibly the most-read Rakofsky retort so far: "Joseph Rakofsky — I Have An Answer For You". Eric's answer is not for the eyes or ears of the easily offended, even when it is translated in to Latin. That post also lofted the Rakofsky case to broader Internet notoriety when it was reported (with Eric's surname misspelled as "Tukewitz") by Cory Doctorow at boingboing.
The anonymous law student blogger [and defendant] known as J-Dog reported on his attempt at a negotiated resolution. The post includes an excerpt of an email from Joseph Rakofsky himself, who suggests that J-Dog (and presumably all of the other defendants) should have invested in a copy of the reporter's transcript from his D.C. murder trial "before you presumed to harm me."
Brian Cuban [not a defendant, yet] is unimpressed by the Emotional Distress theory, particularly in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's recent pronouncements on the subject.
David A. Shulman [not a defendant at this time] took to his South Florida Estate Planning Law blog to declare himself as Standing With My Fellow Legal Bloggers Against an Attempt to Chill Speech.
The legal humor blog Big Legal Brain and [non-defendant at this stage] C. Hank Peters revealed that Rakofsky v. Internet will be coming soon to a theater near you:
[Defendant] Antonin Pribetic made, at length, the case for Rakofsky as a sign of the End Times: REPENT, FOR THE END IS NIGH! THE RAKOFSKYLYPSE IS UPON YE!
Much of what is being said about Rakofsky is being said in 140-character snippets on Twitter. Those items can be found by a Twitter search for Rakofsky or for the hashtag #Rakofsky. Two comments here from defendants freshly added to the Amended Complaint:
And two more original defendants' remarks on a notable absence of comment on the case from certain quarters:
A last note on legal representation: Joseph Rakofsky is represented as plaintiff by attorney Richard Borzouye, discussed in this post by [defendant] Mark Bennett. Mr. Borzouye's own website, here, includes a description of his practice that begins with this:
Just two blocks from Grounds Zero, Borzouye Law Firm, P.C. is a full-service Wall Street litigation firm, with an elite New York State & Federal criminal practice . . . .
Emphasis added. Spelling in original. Good taste is timeless.
The Rakofsky Weekend Update will return to Decs&Excs next week, if warranted by developments and public demand.
* Although the "Supreme Court" in federal practice and in most states is an appellate court at the highest level of the judiciary, in the State of New York the Supreme Court is the ground level trial court.
Illustration: "Candid Considerations on Libels" (1789) via Wikimedia Commons.