This is the seventh in the ongoing series of posts compiling the most recent publicly available developments surrounding the litigation Commonly Known As Rakofsky v. Internet, in which New Jersey attorney Joseph Rakofsky has sued some 81 media organizations, professional institutions and, above all, individual legal bloggers, claiming that he was damaged by those defendants' publication of reports and commentary on his performance as defense counsel in a murder trial in Washington, D.C., and issues appurtenant thereto. All installments in this series are collected in the Rakofsky v. Internet category of this blog.
In the early going, it was a quiet week in Rakofskyworld, so quiet that by Thursday morning it had begun to seem that there might be no cause to produce this edition of the Update. A lull in anticipation of the long Independence Day weekend, perhaps? No: the calm before the latest burst of sound, fury and fireworks.
As always, action in the courthouse has been monitored and reported by [my co-defendant and New York local counsel] Eric Turkewitz. The week began with Eric uploading the partial opposition, on behalf of the Group of 35 defendants he represents, to the motion of Rakofsky's current counsel, Richard Bourzoye, to withdraw from the case. The partial opposition only addresses concerns over leaving Joseph Rakofsky's law firm, a professional corporation, unrepresented. While Rakofsky, or any other litigant, is permitted to represent himself as an individual, business entities can only appear and participate in litigation via an attorney. There is concern that, if Bourzoye withdraws without new counsel stepping in on behalf of the professional corporation, neither the defendants nor the Court will have any lawful way of interacting with that plaintiff in moving the case forward.
On Thursday,. June 30, Eric updated yet again his post concerning the initial procedural motions―seeking admission of Marc Randazza pro hac vice and requesting a single response date be set for the filings of all defendants―filed on behalf of the Group of 35. It seems that Rakofsky has attempted something of a "bait and switch," swapping out an earlier, objectionable set of papers over his own signature in favor of an altered set over the signature of his counsel, Bourzouye. The procedural and evidentiary problems posed by that move compelled Turkewitz and Randazza to file sur-replies, bringing the issue to the Court's attention and attempting to set matters straight. The written submissions relating to those motions are now complete, but a ruling on the substance of the motions has yet to issue. Similarly, the motion of Bourzouye to withdraw as counsel and the previously reported motions of other defendants to dismiss on jurisdictional and substantive grounds, remain pending.
In last week's Update, I discussed [defendant] attorney Mark Doudna, who found himself dragged in to the Rakofsky litigation based upon a blog post that was written and posted in his name, but was in fact authored without his input by an outside marketing consultant. "[A] parable of legal services marketing," I called it, "offering lessons galore for those who will learn them." This week, writing at Simple Justice, [defendant] Scott Greenfield was prepared to look more deeply at those lessons in his post, "Doudna Takes a Magic Bullet."
Perhaps the most unexpected online development of the week was revealed by [non-defendant] New York attorney Joe DePaola on Twitter when he pointed to the appearance yesterday of this most intriguing legal job listing, on Craigslist:
Attorney of Record in NY (Trial Lawyer...MUST READ BELOW)
In your reply, please acknowledge the points listed below. ($200 a month plus $150 per Court Appearance.)
1) This is a Defamation case that was filed only a couple of months ago; it is brand new. If the case survives the motions to dismiss, I assume it will be 2 or 3 years before it is over. There are many, many defendants and once they learn who the lawyer is who I will hire as the Attorney of Record, they will almost certainly engage in character assassination of that person and attempt to ruin that lawyer's reputation on the Internet. I do not know for a fact that this will happen, but I believe that it is a possibility.
2) The lawyer should be EXTREMELY aggressive in the Court room. It is helpful if you have experience in Defamation. Obviously, trial lawyers who intimately know the CPLR will be the strongest candidates.
3) Please, no resumes. Just briefly tell me about your experience.
4) While I will be responsible for most of the drafting, I will have legal and procedural questions that I could need you to answer. You will also need to proof read our documents.
5) You must become an expert in my case. You must know all of the defendants, all of their arguments, etc. Thank you.
The listing does not identify the potential client by name, so it is not certain that this was posted by Joseph Rakofsky or has anything to do with his case. The circumstantial similarities and the poster's attitude toward the case and his opposing litigants all tend to suggest, strongly, that if the listing is serious―this is the Internet, reader, so the possibility that this is merely commentary, metacommentary, or spoofery must always be borne in mind―it originates in Rakofsky's effort to replace Bourzoye at the counsel table. So to New York area practitioners we say:
If your dream position for the next 2 to 3 years is as an aggressive, expert proofreader and civil procedure tutor, if you are prepared to place your reputation on the line, and if you are prepared to do it all for $200 per month, Destiny is calling.
The Rakofsky Weekend Update will return to Decs&Excs next week, barring the unlikely event that nothing happens in Rakofskyworld in the next seven days.
Disclosure/Disclaimer: I am a defendant in the Rakofsky case, one of the jointly defended group I refer to above as the "Group of 33 35," because of my having written this post; I commented previously on my involvement in the action here. To the extent that I may have any non-public information concerning the case, my policy is not to share it in these update posts.
[Defendant] Mark Bennett continues to maintain and update a thorough compendium of links to Rakofsky-related posts on his blog, Defending People. My own selection of links is purely subjective and not necessarily comprehensive. I recommend regular consultation of the Compendio Bennetticus for the fullest range of blog responses to Rakofsky v. Internet.
The progress of the case through the courts is also being monitored on the Rakofsky v. Internet "Threat Page" maintained by the Citizen Media Law Project.