James Woods Not Allowed To Find Out Name Of Guy Who Called Him A Cocaine Addict On Twitter

from the that's-not-how-this-works dept

Over the summer, we wrote about a positively ridiculous lawsuit filed by the actor James Woods, who apparently took offense to an obviously hyperbolic tweet, calling him a “cocaine addict.” Woods felt that such a joke tweet deserved a $10 million lawsuit. The anonymous Twitter user hooked up with Ken “Popehat” White as his lawyer and made an anti-SLAPP claim against Woods for his lawsuit that seemed obviously designed to silence criticism on Twitter. Amusingly, one of the things that White’s response pointed out was that Woods himself had referred to others on Twitter in a similar way:

One of the most important parts of California’s very good anti-SLAPP law (which is a way to fight back against lawsuits that are clearly just designed to shut someone up), is that it blocks all “discovery” efforts in the case until the anti-SLAPP efforts are decided. This is especially important, because it’s often the discovery process that destroys peoples’ lives — costing them tons of time and money in responding to requests. In this case, Woods and his lawyer still sought to use the discovery process to find out the identity of the Twitter user who went by the user name “Abe List.”

However, as Eriq Gardner at the Hollywood Reporter notes, the court has rejected this attempt, noting that it’s way, way too early to get into that with an anti-SLAPP claim still in place:

L.A. Superior Court judge Mel Recana concludes that the defendant’s mental state when making the tweet isn’t material just yet in the case. In an order this week, the judge writes, “Defendant argues that if the court finds that the statement is a ‘mere rhetorical insult,’ then malice is irrelevant and defendant prevails. The court agrees that plaintiff is not entitled to discovery into malice at this stage. The anti-SLAPP motion is limited to whether the statement was a provable fact or a ‘figurative rhetorical insult.’ ”

This is not surprising, but it’s good to see that the court is following the proper procedures here and not letting Woods try to get around the anti-SLAPP process in order to identify the tweeter.

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Comments on “James Woods Not Allowed To Find Out Name Of Guy Who Called Him A Cocaine Addict On Twitter”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The account that made the statement was(I believe it’s down now) pretty obviously not a serious one, and prone to making hyperbolic statements and tossing out insults like party favors. The idea that people were going to assume that it was true, rather than just another random insult was pretty low at best.

There’s also the double standards in play, Woods flipped out over someone implying that he was a drug addict, yet he’d made that very same implication with regards to other people. So if one claim is defamatory, then his should be as well, yet his lawyer argued that no no, completely different, not the same at all.

If ‘Put down your crack pipe’ isn’t defamatory, then the tweet in question, ‘”@RealJamesWoods @benshapiro cocaine addict James Woods still sniffing and spouting.” shouldn’t be either. If on the other hand Woods’ tweet was, then the one he went legal over might be as well. He can’t have it both ways.

voiceofReason (profile) says:

You will find that, remarkably, in the United States the standard for determining if a person had a civil wrong committed against him does not depend on whether, in an unrelated matter to this fact pattern, the person himself committed a similar civil wrong against a different person.

Remarkable, but true.

What country do you call home?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If you’re going to respond to someone, it helps to use the ‘Reply to this’ function to keep discussions in a clear order, rather than scattered about.

In this case, the case itself had nothing to do with ‘whether he’d done something similar itself’, it was ‘would the average person, looking at this, have good odds of believing it was a statement of fact, an opinion, or just empty words posted online by someone well known for exactly that?’ Going off of the history of the one making the ‘defamatory’ statement in question, #3 is the most likely answer, and as such protected speech, whether he likes it or not.

As for why I brought up the double standards, it was to point out his hypocrisy. He had no problem throwing out insults, up to and including implying drug use by someone who criticized him, but when someone throws an insult his way suddenly he’s screeching about how horrible it is. If he’s going to claim that he can imply drug use by another person, and that’s okay, then he doesn’t get to turn around and say that someone doing it to him is suddenly a terrible crime. If he can hand it out, then he’d better be willing to accept it in return.

voiceofReason (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Then we are in agreement that each case must be looked at based on the individual facts presented.

In light of this, perhaps such an analysis would be better served by avoiding creating any possible implication that his conduct in accusing someone else of similar conduct has any bearing on the issue.

Your moral outrage that he dare have rights under tort law even though he may have committed similar torts against someone else was well noted the first time you stated it. Repeating it won’t create the presumption that his rights against others thereby become reduced. And you do.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

His rights under the law do not decrease thanks to his hypocrisy, no, but it is worth pointing out, as I believe hypocrisy is always worth pointing out. If someone is saying one thing, and doing another, they need to be called out on it. They might be doing it intentionally, they might not be, but it’s still worth bringing attention to, both for their sake, and the sake of others.

As to the main point, I’m not sure if I’ve not made myself clear, or if you’ve misunderstood what’s I’ve said, but trying to be as clear as possible: His hypocrisy has nothing to do with the legal aspects of the case. I believe it to be worth pointing out, as I noted above, but it does not, and should not, have any bearing on the case itself.

What should have a bearing on the case is, like I noted in my previous comment, the context and history of the comment and the one who made it, and in this case both would support the idea that very few, if any, are going to reasonably believe it to be a factual statement, rather than just more hyperbole and insults from someone known for both.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

It is strategic to point out hypocrisy in case in which the court is going to have to determine what a reasonable person would believe.

Wood’s attorney has to get him out of a bit of a logic mess in this case. The arguments are:
1) A reasonable person would believe that Wood’s statement was hyperbole, but the statements made against him are not (pretty tough to conclude base on the similarity)
2) Woods himself has done the same thing to someone else and a reasonable person would believe the statements (opening Woods up to a rather large suit with little ground to stand on)
3) Woods is not a reasonable person (probably not what you want the court to conclude)

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Very true. But it’s hard to win a defamation lawsuit against you if you have previously argued that hyperbolic statements EXACTLY like your own are defamatory.

If Woods wins, there are likely to be several people — if not outright dozens — who will be able to immediately sue him for defamation, probably in the same court with possibly even the same judge.

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