The nut takes a bow! #notchilled

Reminder: I post this as myself, and not on behalf of any other entity.

I would like to point out that in my initial disclaimer, I said I would try to be evenhanded. I tried with this post, but…it’s really hard to not make fun of pubnt, and I’m afraid that I failed. This is not evenhanded.

Reminder of where we are: Right now, we’re in the very beginning of the discovery phase. That means that the parties have agreed on a schedule for discovery and have produced initial witness lists. One individual on Jane’s list was the @pubnt account on Twitter. I mentioned this last week, and there was much rejoicing. The Nut went relatively silent on Twitter…but don’t worry, it has faxed a letter to the Court.

Note that, as one might have expected, the Nut does not have a solid grasp on legal proceedings, and that shows in this letter. Also note, however, that the Nut is presenting a legally cognizable argument, and even though the evidentiary basis is thin (to put it in friendly terms), the underlying legal argument is not completely unsound.

A summation of pubnt’s claims for those who don’t want to wade through them.

  1. They don’t know anything about the business of Ellora’s Cave.
  2. They can’t figure out why Jane wants to call them as witnesses for her side.
    (Lemme help, pubnt. Here’s what’s going on. Jane thinks that you might be someone who is connected to EC, as in a personal friend of Jaid Black, or someone involved in the business. She suspects that you’ve been told inside information, and she hopes it was in email form. Jane isn’t asking you to testify on her behalf. She’s saying that you might have information that sheds light on the case. You may think that none of the information in your possession is useful to Jane, but your legal judgment is demonstrably what one would call “sketchy”.)
  3. Pubnt claims that Jane is using the court proceedings to harass. Because pubnt is not good at using words, pubnt fails to mention that the person that is being harassed by Jane is pubnt, but that’s almost certainly what they mean. Pubnt also says that the gang that Jane is running (I think Pubnt means me and others who post on the #notchilled hashtag? — er, I’m a very bad stooge of Jane, since I disagree with her about 50% of the time, but hey) intends to harass it once its identity is known, presumably by taunting it a second time.Pubnt claims that there have been “very serious” threats made. I’m not sure what “very serious” threats have been made, but yeah, I would agree with pubnt that if pubnt’s identity was made public, and pubnt was someone well-respected, it would look very bad for them.

    Chances are that pubnt is either (a) someone connected with the principals of the case, (b) someone we have never heard of, whose identity will strike bafflement into the hearts of all, or (c) someone we have already heard of, who already has little to no reputation in the community.

    If I were masquerading as pubnt (plot twist!) I guess it would go badly for me when the mask got torn off, but I can’t imagine that pubnt is anyone who actually commands respect these days.

  4. Pubnt repeats that pubnt knows nothing.
  5. Pubnt claims that Jane is a “vicious troll” and that the judge needs to watch out for “possible gang activities” and “violation of our rights.” Pubnt doesn’t really mention which rights those are. Don’t worry; pubnt will get there. Eventually.
  6. Pubnt mentions that Jane was banned from RWA. Pubnt fails to mention this was because Jane did not meet the strict definitional requirements for membership in RWA, which as a trade association must offer benefits only to those in the trade, but that’s because pubnt gets news from Stop the Goodreads Bullies, everyone’s favorite source for made-up anonymous bluster. Courts just love anonymous online bluster! (Lookit me not being evenhanded.)
  7. Pubnt cites STGRB again for an attack that Jane supposedly led on an author.
  8. Pubnt cites STGRB yet again for an attack that Jane supposedly led on Nathan Bransford, an agent.
  9. Pubnt cites STGRB one more time for the proposition that Jane supports violence. The twitter thread, by the way, supports the proposition that Jane shrugs off hyperbole that invokes violent imagery. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t literally support authors getting punched in the throat for their books. You realize that anyone who reads this and looks at the receipts will say, “Uh, what? You’re afraid that you will be subject to actual violence because a different person said once that they were so disappointed in the ending of Veronica Roth’s book that they wanted to punch her in the throat, and Jane said NBD? How do you even function with fears like that?”Whatevs. Those are details.
  10. Pubnt says: And there’s more! We just won’t go into details.
  11. Pubnt says that Jane is jealous of success and targets those who are successful. (Which, of course, is why she went after EC when they reported a crushing loss of Amazon revenue, and not the publishers reporting record profits–but whatevs, details again.)
  12. Pubnt says that Jane targets anyone who speaks out against her.
  13. Pubnt says that they are “bystanders and legal case bloggers” (once again, no legal blog is mentioned) (Pubnt, you forgot to tell the judge that you gave Jaid Black legal advice!) Pubnt says that Jane runs her smear campaigns on Twitter, and so they have taken to the tweets to counteract her message by exercising their first amendment rights. This is the first time that pubnt manages to mention a cognizable right at stake here, so good job, pubby.I have not actually seen Jane tweet much, if at all, about this case, so presumably pubnt is conflating me with Jane here.
  14. Pubnt mentions that Jane’s gang is made up of “self-published authors” and bloggers who profit by selling self-published authors advertisements. I am apparently motivated by jealousy, because I wish that my ebooks were priced at $7.99 with me getting 25% of net digital royalties. I am eaten up with hatred at all the many rejections I’ve received.
  15. Pubnt reiterates that pubnt knows nothing, John Snow.
  16. Pubnt once again calls Jane perverse and a vicious troll.
  17. Pubnt says that it does NOT want to be a witness, nope, nosirree bob, in case there was any doubt.
  18. To prove that pubnt is pubnt, it promises to tweet, on February 14th, “In the American tradition of free speech the public can sort out truth from fiction only when both sides have their say.” Oookay pubnt.

There we are.

There are two questions here.

1. Has pubnt made a cognizable legal argument? Uh…yes. Not very well, admittedly, but pubnt is operating pro se and judges give a lot of leeway to those who are representing themselves. Pubnt clearly alleges that (1) It is engaging in anonymous free speech; that (2) Jane’s proposed discovery is not for the purpose of discovering information about the case, but for the illicit purpose of uncovering its identity, and (3) that uncovering its identity would threaten its first amendment right to comment on the case anonymously.

These are perfectly reasonable legal arguments for someone to make, if they find themselves in the position where their right of anonymous free speech and potentially their safety is threatened by a malicious subpoena in a court proceeding. Those of us who are watching the O.o that starts with G and ends with E and has “amergat” in the middle know that there is real truth to the fact that sometimes, the veil of anonymity is necessary for safety.

So if you ever find yourself in the situation where you fear for your safety because of malicious discovery attempts, find yourself a lawyer immediately, so you can quash that subpoena.

And that is why the judge read the letter and understood it as a motion to quash any subpoenas relating to pubnt, and entered it on the docket as such. Good for the judge.

Now, I said that these are perfectly reasonable legal arguments. The other problem pubnt will have is a factual one. Jane will probably be able to explain, based on pubnt’s own tweets, why it looks like pubnt has specialized information about the case. It’s hard to be all “I know nothing, Jon Snow!” when you’ve spent the last few months talking about the fact that you know so much and nobody else knows anything.

I mean, pubnt has claimed multiple times that Ellora’s Cave is flush with cash. Bank balances are not things that the general public knows. Pubnt has claimed that it has proof of libel. If so, that would be discoverable information, and Jane Litte therefore has the right to know it. Pubnt claims that EC is about to merge with one of the Big Five–a fact so bizarre that, if true, it would surely be under embargo right now, and so pubnt’s claimed knowledge of it demonstrates that it has internal knowledge of EC’s workings. And that’s only going back to very late January; I’m sure we could harvest hundreds more tweets of claimed insider knowledge.

There are really only two possibilities. Either (a) pubnt has been lying to us all (quelle surprise), or (b) pubnt has inside knowledge of EC’s affairs and thus should be subject to discovery requests. Pubnt’s main problem is that in order to explain why they should not be subject to a subpoena, they will have to go to the court and say, “We are lying sacks of shit and you cannot trust a word we say.”

This is not a particularly comfortable legal posture.

One last question that has been bandied about on Twitter: Is the Nut in danger of…anything, for sending the Court a screed that exhibits pubnt’s typical antifactual connection to reality? There are some things in the letter that are almost certainly what we would call “lies”–I think we’ve established pretty firmly that the Nut is not a legal blogger, at least not in the sense that the Nut has a blog. Or that the Nut knows beans about law.

But the Nut hasn’t actually said this was on penalty of perjury. It wasn’t even presented to the Court as a formal legal filing. It was basically just a letter that said “HELP MEEE PLEEEEEEAAASSEEEEE THERE ARE WOLVES ON TWITTER.” If the Nut wants to eventually file something with the court to prove its point, it will eventually have to submit…something that could create some danger. But a pro se letter sent to a judge is highly unlikely to result in sanctions of any kind.

What the Nut really, really needs right now is legal advice. Good thing that one of them’s a lawyer.

28 thoughts on “The nut takes a bow! #notchilled

  1. I wonder, should the nut be someone intimately connected to EC *cough* whether said nut would be hiding all these shenanigans from EC’s actual lawyer. Because if the nut is who I think it is, and it goes seeking advice from that lawyer, the poor man may be in danger to asplode. I do believe someone was warned before about contacting Jane and perhaps those who submitted affidavits for her. A second–and oh lordy, so prolonged–instance of not quite appropriate behaviour would raise a conscientious lawyer’s blood pressure, wouldn’t it?

  2. Reading this gave me my injection of laughter for the day, so thanks. I’d already read the letter and the judge’s response you posted on Twitter.

    IDK, how can you be evenhanded in the face of something like this? I kept thinking to myself “facts, not vituperation, is what you need here.” (It makes me wonder what Judge Adams and his clerk(s) made of this and how much internal eyerolling was going on when they read it.) Either pubnt knows nothing and is a troll or it knows something relevant and will wind up being unmasked.

  3. I just want to be clear that this is not, by any means, the worst thing I have ever read in a legal filing. It makes a cognizable argument. It uses facts. Sentences are mostly constructed in the expected fashion.

    It’s downright SENSICAL compared to some of the O.o stuff out there.

  4. Er and by “facts” I mean “the legal definition of facts” meaning “assertions about what happened.” I don’t mean that the Nut’s claimed facts are factual.

  5. I have a low threshold for nonsense and was never a judicial clerk, so haven’t seen what you have. But other than the tax protestors I dealt with when I worked for the IRS, this is among the most whackadoodle things I’ve personally seen filed.

    I get what you mean, though, about it stating a legally cognizable basis for quashing any subpoena issued to compel its testimony.

  6. Pubnt said:

    “…for merely daring to say positive things about the claimant”

    That line cracked me up! Oh, she’s going to be a Twitness

  7. I wish point 10 had said, “But wait! There’s more!” and then we’d find out Nut was selling something for $19.99 + shipping and handling.

    Shall we all sneer in Nut’s general direction?

  8. Pubnt is doomed if they think they can use STGRB as proof of anything. STGRB is a corrupt stalker troll hate site that I have had run off two hosting services for personal attacks, defamation and libel.

  9. There are two questions here. 1. Has pubnt made a cognizable legal argument?

    I’m guessing the second is: ‘2. Does pubnt have specialised information about the case?’

    (Methinks the second numbered legal question got lost in a small editing mishap. The piece as a whole brightened my evening immensely, for which, much thanks. The deft avoidance of Summoning by Name at one point was a nice touch among many.)

    Best Regards,
    Rick Moen

  10. Do you think it’s possible @pubnt created this anti-pubnt account on twitter? This account seems to have been made to bully @pubnt. Perhaps he/she/they are thinking this will help the request to remain anonymous? To actually make it look like someone is harassing him/her/them?

  11. It doesn’t claim that NSA helicopters are hovering over their house or that the American interstate highways form a map for alien invasion, so yes, claims of Twitter bullying, unfortunately, are far more coherent (and plausible) than a lot of pro se papers that judges see. Gah.

  12. In general I think your analysis is spot-on, but I’d take issue with one point:

    “There are some things in the letter that are almost certainly what we would call “lies”–I think we’ve established pretty firmly that the Nut is not a legal blogger, at least not in the sense that the Nut has a blog.”

    It depends on how you define the term? It sounds like you’re making a distinction between “a Twitter account” and “a blog,” and I don’t think one actually exists. (I can see how they might be different things in your idiolect, but I don’t think there’s a real claim that somebody who defines the terms differently is a liar.)

    Certainly Twitter has not infrequently been referred to as a “microblogging” platform, which I take to mean that it consists of very short blog posts. And, other than post length, I can’t think of any significant way in which Twitter differs from LiveJournal, which is unambiguously on the “blog” side in today’s parlance.

    (I first started an online journal in early 1999, and have survived multiple flamewars over terminology, starting with “diary” vs. “journal” [and “diarist” vs. “journaler” vs. “journaller” vs. “journalist,” with a side order of “escribitionist”], and proceeding to practically everybody vs. “blogs,” culminating in pitched battles over the dividing lines between the various terms. I’ve come to accept that everything is a blog these days. A journal is a kind of blog. A Twitter account is a kind of blog. Bloggers blog blogs on their blogs. All hail the blog.)

  13. Gee, the fax number belongs to Mental Health & Wellness 2500 Bissell Avenue, Richmond, CA 94804. They treat addiction, stress etc. Do we know anyone with close ties to EC with addiction issues…say a roommate and co-author perhaps?

  14. I haven’t been following this much. One of the author’s blog I occasionally read mentioned this so I popped on over to see what was going on. I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard all week. Thank you Ms. Milan. This is great explanation for those of us completely clueless about the court of law. I looked at the fax. As soon as I saw the words used and the links, I couldn’t help but imagine what the judge said. Or the look on his face when this was handed to him. (I hope it is a male judge because I’m just guessing.) Anyway, this may be one the judge will remember and when he retires goes… “this one time, I had this case you won’t believe. It was like a cat fight between two women but the sad part was one of the women was surrounded by a Nut…”

  15. That letter gave me the biggest laugh of the week. Not knowing a hell of a lot about law in general (though I have learned a lot, thank you Ms. Milan! :D), I wonder why someone in their right mind would open up its Twitter feed to possible scrutiny by the court. Then again, I guess “in their right mind” is my answer. Seems to me that with all the threats of additional lawsuits and withholding royalties throughout the stream, it shoots tons of holes in its own argument. Not to mention the outright lies – there’s plenty of proof of that too, between the RWA approved publisher list/PAN/RITA arguments, the ridiculous slams aimed at you, the lame attempts to insult and degrade everyone who dared speak out, and the fact that it has such power, it has “ensured publishers won’t touch any of the authors” on its infamous blacklist.

  16. @Anita Cox:
    I seem to recall that Jaid posted something about calling an ambulance for a friend of hers at some point near her birthday, perhaps actually during her birthday party.

  17. Thank you for these blog posts. Your explanations without hyperbole fill in the blanks in the story since I do not follow this hashtag daily. Your perspective helps make sense of what otherwise seems like a crazy flurry of tweets, even when logic isn’t clear.

  18. Wow, Jane’s a gangbanger? Who would have thunk it? LMAO. So, who could the mysterious pubnet be? In my humble opinion, and it is my personal opinion, it’s likely EC’s fearless leader herself. So, suppose the judge grants Jane’s request to add the nut to the witness list and he then discovers pubnet is who I (and I’m guessing many others) believe s/he is, would there be any legal sanction against a party to a lawsuit making public statements with regard to said lawsuit in order to manipulate the outcome? Because, clearly, that’s what’s happening. Holy cow, I’m really sorry Jane is going through this but reading that delusional screed was such a hoot. Is it wrong that find myself hoping for more?

  19. Thank you very much for these posts. I’m learning a lot about legal procedures in USA.
    I can imagine what an overworked & stressed Spanish judge would have done with such a paper… ad I’m still laughing.

  20. @Courtney Milan:

    Gosh no, some of the filings from Rakofsky are very interesting and have you seen what Prenda puts out.

    I always disliked pro se litigants. Always more work just cleaning up and clarifying what they had put in front of the court. But I always thought the judge’s appreciated having it clarified so we could be expedient.

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