French Court Tosses Ridiculous Criminal Complaint By Israeli Against An American Over Book Review By A German
from the good-news dept
But Calvo-Goller did not move on. She claimed that the review was libelous, and contacted the editor of the journal -- an American named Joseph Weiler -- who responded quite reasonably to Calvo-Goller, pointing out that the review wasn't that bad and that he did not believe the review was libelous (and explained in detail why not), and then offered Calvo-Goller the right to write a response that he would publish as well. He also pointed out that her reputation would likely take a much larger hit from trying to suppress a negative book review, than from the review itself.
Rather than heed that warning, Calvo-Goller went to an extreme: suing Weiler for criminal defamation in a Paris court. You may notice that, until now, France had not been mentioned. That's because it has nothing whatsoever to do with this case. Despite questioning the jurisdiction, Weiler felt the need to respond to the lawsuit, which took place a little over a month ago, and Eric Goldman alerts us to the excellent news that Weiler didn't just prevail, but the court issued sanctions against Calvo-Goller. The court agreed with both of Weiler's arguments, that the jurisdiction was wrong and that the criminal complaint was an abuse of process by Calvo-Goller. Weiler posted an excerpt of the court's ruling, which indicates that the court recognized the ridiculousness of the situation. It says that the review was a standard book criticism, not raising nearly to the point of defamation, and also highlights that Calvo-Goller more or less admitted to forum shopping to find a court that would be most receptive to her arguments. It finds this even more troubling in that she's supposedly an expert on the law.
"....As regards the choice made by the Complainant to invoke French criminal proceedings, though [Karine Calvo-Goller] holds dual French and Israeli nationality, she resides and works in Israel, the book which is the subject of proceedings was written in English, as was the Book Review; [it was] published on an American website, linked to an American university at which Joseph Weiler works; [the Complainant] explained to the Court that she chose to use the French rather than the American or Israeli systems for financial reasons --the cost of proceedings would have been more expensive for her-- as well as for reasons of expediency, being of the view that only French law offered her a chance of success;Of course, as Weiler notes, Calvo-Goller still can appeal the ruling, though one hopes she has learned her lesson. In the meantime, you have to wonder if this case will make it into her next book on international law...
... Karine Calvo-Goller thus acknowledges having engaged in what one can call "forum shopping", that is to say a worldwide search, for the legal system which seems the most favorable to the person initiating legal proceedings, and which places her opponent, as much for legal reasons as for practical reasons -- geographical or cultural remoteness -- in the least favorable situation.... [T]he artificial choice in this case, of the French legal system, coupled with the choice of pursuing a criminal procedure by means of a complaint to an Investigating Judge resulting in both opprobrium and significant costs to the accused, characterizes the abuse of these proceedings;
... Karine Calvo-Goller failed to comprehend [respect] the scope of French Press law stating that the Review which was made the subject of the proceedings could be held to be defamatory.... [I]n effect, the Review of her book does not contain words damaging her honor or her reputation, and only expresses, what is more, in moderate terms, a scientific opinion on [her book] without ever exceeding the limits of free criticism to which all authors of intellectual works expose themselves;
... The bad faith of the Complainant --a lawyer, moreover one familiar with French law given her indication that she pursued her law studies in France-- is therefore undeniably established;
... It is therefore with just cause, that Joseph Weiler believes that the [Complainant] has abused her right to bring legal proceedings, on the one hand by initiating an action for defamation in relation to words that do not go beyond the limits of academic criticism, an essential element of academic freedom and freedom of expression and, on the other hand, by artificially bringing proceedings through the French criminal justice system."
Considering the resulting harm suffered by the accused, he will be justly compensated by judgment against the Complainant requiring her to pay to him the sum of €8,000." [about US$ 11,000]