Monday, April 21, 2008

Hear, hear, Public Citizen!

We don't often type the words that comprise the title of today's post.

Given the opportunity, we just couldn't resist.

Kathleen Seidel hosts the neurodiversity.com blog, in which she critiques the evidence supporting, and litigation over, whether vaccines cause autism. Seidel sees no link, which naturally infuriates the plaintiffs' bar.

Earlier this month, Clifford Shoemaker, a plaintiff's lawyer in the vaccine litigation, served a subpoena on Ms. Seidel demanding that she produce basically every document relating to her blog, including e-mail correspondence, bank records, and information about her use of research tools, such as Lexis and Pacer. That story has been covered widely in the blogosphere, including at Overlawyered, the Legal Blog Watch, the New York Personal Injury Law Blog, and elsewhere.

No matter where you come out on the merits of requiring the production of those materials, we can surely agree that Ms. Seidel is entitled to top-notch legal representation to help her present the first amendment and other possible defenses to the subpoena.

We're pleased to tell you that our frequent opponents from Public Citizen volunteered for the task.

Public Citizen's first amendment team has now volunteered to represent Ms. Seidel on a pro bono basis.

Good for you, Public Citizen!

We express no opinion on whether the position you're advocating on behalf of Ms. Seidel is right or wrong, but we salute you for providing the legal representation that she deserves.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh, come on. Public Citizen is not my favorite at all, but occasionally, like now, they stand up to a little bully. I also think her position is a good one.

Dave Seidel said...

Kathleen's motion to quash has been granted, and Shoemaker has been ordered to show cause why he should not be sanctioned.


So far, Public Citizen has had no need to intervene. But we are grateful that they are there and willing to help.

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

As a sometimes member of the Plaintiff's bar, I can say that I, for one, am not infuriated by Kathleen Seidel's stance on the issue (although the case involved is interesting because unlike most thimersol cases, it involves a drug administered to a pregnant adult, rather than to a young child, bringing it outside the scope of most of the autism-vaccine literature).

I am infuriated by the Shoemaker subpoena, however, and sanctions are entirely in order, for reasons that Seidel made good progress towards identifying in a pro se motion defending herself.