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Act 105: The Appeals Hearing

On October 16, 2002, my lawyer, Paul Levy, and Taubman's lawyer, Doug Sprinkle, appeared before the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati to argue before a three-judge panel (Judge Danny J. Boggs, Judge Eric L. Clay, and Senior Judge Richard F. Suhrheinrich) in the matter of my appeal of the District Court injunctions that forced me to remove two of my websites from the Internet. (This website was one of them – but the Court of Appeals subsequently granted our motion for a stay of that injunction pending appeal.) We're also appealing the District Court's denial of our motion to dismiss the case because we feel that the District Court in Michigan does not have jurisdiction over me.

I was unable to attend the hearing, and no official transcript is available – but the Court did provide us with an audiotape of the hearing, which I've had transcribed, and which you can read by following the link below. A few disclaimers are in order:

  • The tape is not of especially high quality, and the background noise is pretty intense at times, which is why you'll notice that a few passages are marked as "inaudible."

  • There is always a chance that the transcription is mistaken about the exact wording of any particular statement, and it's likely that there are a few inadvertent inaccuracies. I suspect that the errors are minor, and I doubt that they detract from the general sense of what each party is trying to say.

  • I believe that I was able to attribute with 100% accuracy the speeches of Mr. Levy and Mr. Sprinkle, but I'm a little less certain about the attributions to the judges. Having said that, I believe that I have made the correct attributions to the correct judges, but there is always a slight chance that I have misattributed a statement or two, for which I apologize.

If you read the transcript, I think you'll agree with me that the hearing went well. Having said that, I've learned the danger of trying to predict any judge's decision in advance – and so although I'm looking forward to a positive outcome, I'm also trying to steel myself to the possibility that the ruling might be adverse.

And then, of course, there are degrees of positive and negative outcomes. You'll notice, for example, that Judge Clay seems interested in the idea of sending the case back to the District Court and telling Judge Zatkoff to "do his job," which would technically be a victory for me – but it might be a short-lived victory, as Judge Zatkoff could then simply re-issue the injunction, and we might find ourselves back in the Court of Appeals - in Judge Boggs' words - "another year and a half down the road." So although a ruling that the first injunction was not properly issued would certainly be better than a defeat, I'd much rather have the Court of Appeals overturn the injunction because it was legally wrong, rather than because it was technically flawed.

You'll notice that I've made some comments about Doug Sprinkle's statements, especially in one instance where he makes a series of false claims to the Court about a very important point in the case. As you'll see, he emphatically states that he engaged in telephone discussions with me, and that those discussions occurred prior to Taubman sending me an offer of $1,000 to settle the lawsuit. The truth is that I had no telephone discussions with Doug Sprinkle (nor, for that matter, with anyone else connected to this case) about any subject whatsoever prior to receiving the settlement offer. In other words, Mr. Sprinkle is claiming to have distinct memories about conversations that never took place, and he has no qualms about using those imaginary conversations to bolster his case in the United States Court of Appeals. Fortunately for Mr. Sprinkle, it's my understanding that I can't sue him for his statements in Court. Unfortunately for me, that means that he's essentially free to continue to manufacture evidence when the actual facts fail to support his case.

Next: The Transcript

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©2002 Hank Mishkoff
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