Read James Chaffee's response - Page 3


The law on vexatious litigants uses the term "adverse judgment."  Let's take just one example.  The library refused to hold the required Library Preservation Fund neighborhood hearings on open hours in the branches.  I filed suit.  After the suit was filed, the Library Commission scheduled new hearings, and then claimed to the judge that the case was moot.  Is that an adverse judgment?  The city seems to think it is.  In fact, in the law there is something called a "prevailing party" standard.  Under that standard, if you get what you were originally asking for you are the prevailing party.  Under the "prevailing party" standard I have won the vast majority of the suits.

Let's take another example.  One of the lawsuits was on a closed session.  The judge demanded to see the tape recording of the meeting "in camera."  The Library Commission claimed that they had "lost" the tape, unquestionably as a coverup.  The judge had no choice but to dismiss for lack of evidence.  Is that an adverse judgment?  The city seems to think it is.

Of course, there was the case that I won hands down.  At least two of the cases were about the Fuhrman Fund (See Bay Guardian of Dec. 22, 1993) where they had to get the law and the will changed to retroactively indemnify themselves.  Quentin Kopp got involved and there was a major public discussion public trusts.  (Don't forget the Director of the Friends and Foundation was the same person who had attempted to divert the Buck Trust in Marin County.  Marin County was successful in protecting itself, but San Francisco failed.)  How meritless was that?

I could go on like this at some length, but the point is, these were all crucial issues and now I am defending myself against this superficial and malicious SLAPP.

I am grateful for the Bay Guardian's support, but I think it makes one small faux pas.  The editorial refers to some of my lawsuits as "a little obscure."  All of the suits were about distinct and important points.  I never sued over anything that I didn't consider both significant and a deliberate violation on the part of the Library Commission.  The Library Commission does not negotiate or compromise.  When I began the door was completely slammed in my face.  I started by establishing a beachhead and advancing openness point by point.  Myself, Kimo Crossman, Christian Holmer, Timothy Gillespie, Doug Comstock and so many others -- including Bruce Brugmann -- have been fighting for sunshine and open government against a door that has been slammed in our face by those who think that because of their money they are aristocrats or "good people."  There was nothing obscure about it.

The reason that this is so prejudicial is that I am in fact in "pro per" and people make certain assumptions about that.  What no one wants to admit is that the City Attorney is what is called "Rambo litigators from Hell."  Until one have been through at least a dozen lawsuits against them, one is helpless against the dirty tricks that one is up against.  Just as an indication, there are court rules that every case must have a settlement conference and a mediation.  In my entire history, I have never had either.  They never negotiate.  They never discuss.  They don't have to.  If there were any truth in the matter, the City Attorney would be declared "vexatious."