Washington, DC — Today, Mark Steyn requested that the Superior Court of the District of Columbia expedite the hearing and lift the stay of discovery in the case of Michael Mann v. Steyn, et al. It has been two years since the case was referred to the Appellate Court, where it is remains in limbo.
Mr. Steyn has asked the court to move forward with the case as material witnesses for the defense have passed away since the referral.
“Something needed to be done to jumpstart this case, a case that threatens the most fundamental First Amendment freedoms. The case was brought in mid-2012. It is now four years later and the appeals from defendants’ special motions to dismiss have not been decided, nor has discovery proceeded,” stated Dan Kornstein, Steyn’s lawyer. “The passage of time since the appeal was argued in this case a year and a half ago while a stay of proceedings was in effect at the trial level has stalled a case whose very existence chills freedom of speech. To correct this situation and get the case moving, Mark Steyn filed this request to ask the trial court to lift the stay of proceedings even while the appeal is pending. We hope the trial judge grants the request.”
Mr. Steyn’s request is in line with case law, as cited in the amicus brief filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the defendants, stating that SLAPP laws exist “to remedy the ‘nationally recognized problem’ of abusive lawsuits against speech on public issues by providing defendants ‘with substantive rights to expeditiously and economically dispense of litigation’ that qualified as a SLAPP – in other words, to nip such lawsuits in the bud.” Furthermore, “[T]he special motion to dismiss must generally be granted prior to discovery, D.C. Code § 16-5502(c)(1), ‘[t]o ensure [that] a defendant is not subject to the expensive and time consuming discovery that is often used in a SLAPP as a means to prevent or punish.’”
The defense of this case, due to its First Amendment implications, is supported by: The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Advance Publications, Inc., Alibritton Communications Company, American Society of News Editors, Association of Alternative Newsmedia, The Association of American Publishers, Inc., Dow Jones & Company, Inc., First Amendment Coalition, Freedom of the Press Foundation, Gannett Co., Inc., Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University, The McClatchy Company, MediaNews Group. Inc., d/b/a Digital First Media. The National Press Club, National Press Photographers Association. National Public Radio, Inc., NBCUniversal Media. LLC, The New York Times Company, News Corp. Newspaper Association of America. North Jersey Media Group Inc.. Online News Association, POLITICO LLC, Reuters America LLC, The Seattle Times Company, Society of Professional Journalists, Students Press Law Center, Time Inc., The Washington Post.