So... Hollywood actor James Woods continues to make it clear that he's a complete and total asshole. As you may or may not recall, last year, Woods sued an anonymous Twitter user
who went by the name Abe List, for mocking Woods on twitter. Specifically, List called Woods "clownboy" and later tweeted: "cocaine addict James Woods still sniffing and spouting." Woods sued Abe List claiming that the "cocaine addict" statement was defamatory, and (the important part) demanding the name and identity of Abe List. The fact that Woods, himself, has a long (long, long, long) history of spouting off similarly incendiary claims to people on Twitter apparently wasn't important. Here is an example of a Woods tweet that seems quite similar to the one he, himself, claimed was defamatory:
Ken "Popehat" White agreed to defend Abe List, along with lawyer Lisa Bloom. And while the judge initially (and, in our opinion, correctly) found Woods' lawsuit to be nothing more than a SLAPP suit
, the judge eventually changed his mind
. The case was moving along... and then something bizarre happened. Abe List (whoever that is) died (unexpectedly, apparently). Woods then took to Twitter to obnoxiously gloat about "winning" the case
, leaving out the fact that the case was ending due to the death of the defendant. After people pointed out to Woods how ridiculous it was that he was gloating over a "victory" when someone had died, the ever classy Woods, gloated some more, first saying he hoped that List died "screaming my name. in agony" and then later saying: "Learn this. Libel me, I'll sue you. If you die, I'll follow you to the bowels of Hell. Get it?"
Woods later deleted those tweets, but as I said at the time, the whole thing is sickening. Even if Abe List was trolling Woods, happily celebrating someone's death because they once made fun of you on Twitter seems to suggest you deserve to be made fun of on Twitter. Constantly.
To then add insult to death, Woods and his lawyers continued to push forward with the lawsuit
, demanding to still uncover the name
of Abe List. Woods' lawyers basically tried to argue
that because they didn't know Abe List's identity, it was possible that Ken White was lying that List had died. They argued that they needed White to disclose Abe List's real name to prove that List was really dead:
Critically, although White claims that AL is deceased, he has refused to provide any evidence whatsoever substantiating this claim. Moreover, when Woods' counsel reasonably requested that White at least provide the identity of his now-purportedly-deceased client -- a fact which would be necessary in order to confirm AL is actually deceased -- White refused.
Emphasis in the original. And, of course
White refused. The whole point of the lawsuit appeared to be to reveal Abe List's real identity, which he has every right to protect under the First Amendment. White was hired to protect that identity, so for Woods' lawyer to pretend that it's so horrific that White would refuse to reveal the name is ridiculous -- but apparently par for the course for Woods and his "to the bowels of hell" ethos. Even more ridiculous, Woods and his lawyers demanded White be sanctioned for refusing to give up the name.
White responded by highlighting how ridiculous
all this is, and how it's pretty clear that Woods is just looking to harass and intimidate his critics. In his reply, White even included screenshots of the Tweets above, showing how Woods is gloating about all of this.
When defendant (Abe Doe)... died and his personal representative dismissed his appeal of this Court's denial of his anti-SLAPP motion, Plaintiff James Woods gloated and celebrated his death, expressing his hope that Mr. Doe died "screaming [Woods' name."
Now, Mr. Woods seeks to compel Mr. Doe's attorney, non-party Kenneth P. White ("Mr. White"), to disclose Mr. Doe's identity, and to sanction Mr. White almost $10,000 for asserting the attorney-client privilege in response to his questions.... Mr. Woods asserts that his purpose is legitimate and that he does not seek to harass or abuse Mr. Doe's survivors. But Mr. Woods' own public statements give the lie to that assertion. Mr. Woods wants to do just what he said he wants to do: publicly harass and vilify a dead man and his family.
The Motion is meritless, and is a transparent attempt to abuse the discovery process to exact twisted revenge by harassing Mr. Doe's family. First, contrary to Mr. Woods' arguments, Mr. White expressly premised his refusals to answer questions on one ground -- the attorney-client privilege. That assertion was correct. Because the entire purpose of Mr. White's representation of Mr. Doe was to protect Mr. Doe's identity, and because Mr. White only learned Mr. Doe's identity through confidential communications, Mr. Woods cannot force Mr. White to disclose it.
Unfortunately (and... ridiculously), the court has now ruled that White needs to turn over List's real name
(along with the details of where he died and
the name of his heirs) within 10 days. The court rejected
the request for sanctions against White, and also some other information that White insisted was also protected information (such as whether or not List had other Twitter accounts as well).
This is unfortunate, and a travesty. In response, White provided the following statement:
Sometimes in litigation the bad guys win. This was such a day. I remain very proud to have fought for Abe Doe, and proud to have opposed this vexatious case by James Woods, a petulant bully whose Twitter conduct shows he can dish it out but can’t take it. I’m pleased that the court rejected his demand to compel me to answer several other questions, and that it also rejected his frivolous demand for sanctions.
Woods' lawyer, Michael Weinsten, on the other hand, made the following absolutely ridiculous statement:
This is a significant step forward in our ability to recover the millions in damages caused by John Doe's cowardly Tweet. It also sends a message to others who believe they can hide behind the anonymity of online social media to falsely accuse public figures of heinous behavior without recourse to themselves.
First of all, the idea that List's tweet caused "millions in damages" is so laughable as to make you wonder if Weinsten is also on drugs (note: that's a joke and rhetorical hyperbole...). First off, List's original tweet was a reply to someone else's tweet, meaning that only very, very, very few people saw it, because only those who followed both Abe and Woods would have seen it. Second, it would suggest that such a tweet actually hurt Woods' reputation. And I'd posit that it seems a hell of a lot more likely that Woods' own actions
, such as gloating over List's death, did significantly more to harm his own reputation
than any silly hyperbolic tweet from an anonymous Twitter user. Finally, List didn't "accuse" Woods of "heinous behavior." He did what people -- including Woods
-- regularly do on Twitter, which is make fun of other people. To argue that Woods needs special protection from a Twitter troll makes you wonder what kind of special snowflake Woods thinks he is, that no one should ever be able to mock him on Twitter, while he is apparently free to mock anyone he likes.
And, of course, on Tuesday evening, Woods took to Twitter once again to gloat over the fact that he, that special snowflake whose itty bitty feelings were hurt by someone mocking him on Twitter, is able to stomp on the grave of a dead man. He tweeted a bunch of headlines, declaring "victory" despite the fact his victory spits on the First Amendment, and then made this idiotic analogy:
Huh? I recognize that he's trying to argue that you go after "the big dog" so that others won't pester you, or whatever, but he literally went after a no name internet troll -- for doing nearly identical things to things that Woods himself had done
. He also tries to defend the "damages" claim by saying that to be a "lead" in a film you have to be insured, and claims of being a drug addict can make you uninsurable. And, sure... but what fucking insurance company uses anonymous trolls tweeting obvious jokes on Twitter to determine if lead actors are drug addicts? The answer? NONE. Woods is full of shit (again: rhetorical hyperbole, James).
This case is an unfortunate travesty of justice. List was, undoubtedly, something of an internet troll himself, regularly pushing many people's buttons (in fact, when List died, White posted about how List regularly attacked White's political beliefs as well). But I don't care how annoyed a troll might make you feel, or how hurt your special feelings are, someone like Woods (who regularly mocks
people he calls "snowflakes"
online -- a term often used to mock those who can't take any criticism) shouldn't get to stomp all over the grave of someone just because they made him feel bad.