Bob Murray To Court: The ACLU Is Too Biased To File Its 'Eat Shit, Bob' Brief

from the eat-shit-bob dept

As you likely recall, last week the ACLU of West Virginia asked the federal court handling the very upset coal boss Bob Murray’s defamation lawsuit against comedian John Oliver to allow it to file a hilarious amicus brief explaining (among other things) why it was perfectly legal to say “Eat shit, Bob.” As we noted at the time, it is a very funny filing, but we weren’t sure the court would allow it for a whole variety of reasons. And thus it’s no surprise that Murray’s lawyers are opposing the motion — but we didn’t expect that their opposition would be quite so ridiculous. There are lots of normal arguments they could make, including no need for an amicus brief at this point, or pointing out that the amicus arguments are likely to be simply duplicative of HBO/John Oliver’s arguments, but… Murray’s lawyers went a bit further. Apparently, they don’t want the ACLU weighing in, because it has an opinion.

More troubling, the ACLU fails to disclose its indisputable and disqualifying bias, notwithstanding that several district courts have noted that impartiality is a key factor to consider when evaluating whether to permit a non-party to serve as amicus curiae.

But, uh, most amicus briefs have a bias that supports one side or the other. They just add to the overall record, often providing different perspectives on the issues, or offering an alternative way of looking at the issues. Nothing says that amicus briefs need to be totally neutral.

It’s no surprise that Murray’s lawyers attack the “tone” of the ACLU’s brief. Indeed, it wouldn’t surprise me if the tone alone makes the judge reject it. But, even here, Murray’s lawyers’ reasoning is… weird. They argue that the tone shows that the ACLU of West Virginia can’t be an amicus.

From the tone of its brief alone, it is obvious that the ACLU is not a “friend of the court” offering a dispassionate view of the issues.

And then they claim that the ACLU is only supporting John Oliver because he once, many months ago, urged people to donate to various organizations, some of which may have helped the ACLU:

Moreover, the ACLU’s economic motivations for assisting Defendants and its prejudice against Plaintiffs are a matter of public record. As for its economic interests, in November of 2016, Defendant Oliver used “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” to encourage viewers to donate to numerous left-leaning organizations, which?not surprisingly?resulted in an immediate surge of millions of dollars in donations to the ACLU, among others. See Exhibit A and Exhibit B hereto. Another subsidiary of Defendant Time Warner furthered the effort to add to the ACLU’s coffers by reporting on Oliver’s call for donations the next day. See Exhibit C hereto. Consequently, the ACLU’s statement in the Motion that “no party, party’s counsel, or other person?contributed money intended to fund preparing or submitting the brief” lacks appropriate and complete disclosure.

Oh come on. The idea that the ACLU is weighing in because John Oliver and other Time Warner properties once encouraged donation is ludicrous.

If I had to guess, I’d say that the court will simply reject the amicus brief as being unnecessary and unwanted at this stage, but the arguments from Murray’s lawyers continue to make me wonder where he found these guys.

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Companies: aclu, aclu of west virginia

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Comments on “Bob Murray To Court: The ACLU Is Too Biased To File Its 'Eat Shit, Bob' Brief”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

How's that saying go...?

‘When the facts are on your side, pound on the facts.

When the law is on your side, pound on the law.

When neither are on your side, pound on the table.’

As noted in the article there are several ways they could have gone in opposing the ACLU’s submission, that they went with ‘they aren’t unbiased enough(read: not biased in our favor) for it to count, and oh yeah Oliver once encouraged people to donate to several organizations, the ACLU among them so their support is totally dodgy’ leaves them looking pretty weak.

Can’t say I’m that surprised though as despite the rather entertaining slant the ACLU’s submission had the facts presented were pretty damning as far as Murray’s team were concerned, so I imagine they’d rather not actually address any of the points raised in an attempt to show how they were flawed, and instead went with a way that would allow them to brush it aside without addressing it.

BernardoVerda (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

According to people who like to lump liberal, leftist, socialist, and Democrat into one category when it is convenient for them. With changing minute-by-minute definitions for any of the terms.

Ummm… I think you left out marxist*, fascist, nazi, and anarchist, (and maybe even scientific). Those "lumpers" don’t worry about consistency, either.

*) "Leninist" seems to be OK, though — since Steve Bannon has publicly claimed to be "Leninist"

Anonymous Coward says:

Indeed, it wouldn’t surprise me if the tone alone makes the judge reject it.

And this is why I will never understand the legal system. If I was a judge and the Illinois Nazis came to me with an amicus brief written in this tone, I would accept it on general principle, regardless of what terrible things it supported or how irrelevant or unnecessary it may be.

Honestly, if I was at the Nuremberg trials and somebody came to me with an amicus brief with this tone, I would probably accept it.

Craig says:

I had always thought this lawsuit was about publicity rather than winning. Either he’s doing the
Gawker thing, trying to cost them a lot of money with no intention of settling. Or it’s just a PR stunt to get publicity for himself. I’m not sure how this is going to get good publicity for him because he looks like a douchebag, acts like a douchebag and hires douchebag lawyers. I guess any publicity is good publicity.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Either he’s doing the Gawker thing, trying to cost them a lot of money with no intention of settling.

As the ACLU’s filing made clear Murray has a long history of suing people who say mean things about him, so I’m pretty sure this explanation is the correct one. Thin skin, lots of money and a history of threatening people who he doesn’t like to shut them up would explain this one nicely.

OA (profile) says:

Not so sure

These days, too many, even judges (and so called judges), are generally kind of poor at evaluating information, arguments and such. For example, sometimes people judge statements based on how they would express the statement’s intent, ignoring or deprioritizing its content. A sort of Empty Etiquette based judgment (though etiquette is often relevant). Worse, I’ve seen statement’s attacked because of the lack of a bias or prejudice that the listener or reader prefers to be present and at least pretends to believe is objective.

At a casual glance I would say the amicus brief is in an acceptable tone because the lawsuit is about comedic statements.

…the court will simply reject the amicus brief as being unnecessary and unwanted at this stage…

Even if the court says this, the arguments by Murray’s lawyers could have still influenced their thinking. The lawyers may be trying to bias the court.

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