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Michael Mann v. Mark Steyn court case delayed again!

For Want of a Judge…

by Mark Steyn

So on Sunday I flew down to America’s wretched capital city to prepare for this morning’s jury selection in the case of Mann vs Steyn – the world’s most worthless and longest-running defamation suit. And, as the plane landed and taxied toward the terminal, everyone on the flight other than me hurriedly opened up their telephones to see what excitements they’d missed during our two hours in the air. And my manager and my publicist discovered that, having taken over eleven years to get us to the eve of trial, the District of Columbia Superior Court has now decided to postpone it. The Court’s Sunday-afternoon order in full:

Regrettably, because of an unexpected illness, the Court is unable to preside over an in-person jury trial. As a result, the trial scheduled to begin the morning of Monday, October 30, 2023, must be postponed.

The Court will hold a remote status hearing on Tuesday, November 14, 2023, at 3:00 p.m., in Virtual Courtroom 518 to discuss when it is practical to hold the trial. In the meantime, the parties should confer to propose times when it might be feasible for the trial to commence.

So the trial I’d prepared for – and, indeed, for which I’d returned to the US from France in some serious discomfort – is now off. But don’t worry: after another fortnight we’ll hold a Zoom call to discuss “when it might be feasible for the trial to commence”. Early 2024? Late 2025? 2027? How about never, m’lud?

“His Honor” Alfred Irving will forgive me if I am unsympathetic to this “unexpected illness”. Ten months ago, Mr Irving, “the fourth trial judge” (a phrase that does not exist in any functioning jurisdiction), reacted to my own “unexpected illness” – two heart attacks – by querying whether I’d actually had them:

He represents he suffered the first heart attack while in London. He represents that he later traveled to France where he suffered the second heart attack. Mr. Steyn indicates that the second heart attack required his hospitalization. According to Mr. Steyn, he continues to receive medical care… He represents that he is engaged in cardiac rehabilitation and that his physicians have advised against air travel and to limit his stress…

Mr. Steyn represents that his physicians have written a letter, but in French…


And so on and so forth, until his decision that, notwithstanding my doctors’ assessment that I was too weak to leave France, my presence was mandatory in Courtroom 518 in DC for his crappy conference the following week. In effect, the Court decided to indulge Plaintiff’s urge to upgrade his lousy defamation suit into a capital offense. It took a brutal affidavit from my disgusted cardiologist, asserting inter alia that it would be greatly to Mann’s advantage to kill me and that the judge shouldn’t be assisting him in that end, to persuade the Court to return to more or less civilised norms.

Nevertheless, the additional stresses imposed at long distance by this wanker judge in that first month after my heart attacks had effects that plague me still. I traveled to DC in a wheelchair …and for nothing.

So I’m disinclined to take at face value the Court’s “representation” that it has had an “unexpected illness”. Where’s your physicians’ letter? In French or any other language…

My general posture to this entirely dysfunctional system, as this awful case has dragged on from 2012 to 2014 to 2017 to 2021 to who knows when has been that of the late English barrister (and subsequent cabinet minister) F E Smith:

Judge: Are you trying to show contempt for this court, Mr Smith?

Smith: No, My Lord. I am attempting to conceal it.*

But it’s very hard attempting to conceal it for over a decade, and I decline to do so any longer. My characterization of America’s “dirty stinkin’ rotten corrupt justice system” lets them off too lightly: it is an evil racket worthy only of contempt.

Just to take merely the smallest point: Consider the cost of my travel to Washington yesterday, the cost of changing my pre-Thanksgiving return flight to fly back today …and then estimate the total tab (now climbing out of the mid-seven figures) for eleven-plus years of this codswallop without end.

As I said, we are presently on the “fourth trial judge”. The first, Natalia Combs Greene, procedurally bollocksed the case. The second, out of deference to his incompetent boob of a colleague, declined to unbollocks it. The third was actually quite good – so naturally she was removed and transferred elsewhere.

As for the fourth, over at Powerline this weekend, John Hinderaker assessed the core elements of the case. Here is John’s take:

So how could D.C. [Superior] Court Judge Alfred Irving possibly have denied his motion for summary judgment? This is Irving’s explanation:

‘Dr. Mann offers significant evidence that Mr. Steyn held ill-will toward him, that Mr. Steyn was zealous in advancing his side of the climate change debate, and that Mr. Steyn did not investigate his claims. The combination of such evidence could reasonably support a jury finding that Mr. Steyn acted with actual malice.’

But ill will is at best marginally relevant to actual malice, while being a zealous advocate has nothing whatever to do with it. And the judge’s statement that Steyn did not investigate his claims is simply false. Rather, he was aware of the investigations that exonerated Mann from wrongdoing, but did not agree with them. Instead, he agreed with the scientists who think Mann’s hockey stick was absurd as well as deceptive, and could not have been constructed in good faith, for the reasons Steyn laid out in his deposition.

Mr Hinderaker is quite right: “ill will” toward the plaintiff is irrelevant to the legal standard, and, as this judge was obliged to admit very belatedly, most of the “significant evidence” offered by Mann came from years after the alleged defamatory publication. Being “zealous” in advancing an opposing view is so worthless a charge no creature more sentient than an amoeba would put it in a judicial ruling. And the assertion that “Mr Steyn did not investigate his claims” is belied by my testimony under oath, in which I’m able to reel off the top of my head two decades’ worth of scientists and publications that disagree with Mann: see herehere, and here.

Update: The big Mark Steyn @MarkSteynOnline & Michael Mann trial has been–postponed again!

It was set to begin in DC Superior Court on October 30, 2023, but due to the judge’s illness, it has been canceled!

Stay tuned for new updates as to when the trial will be rescheduled!