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Act 116: Fighting Back

During the seemingly endless months through which the case dragged on, many people urged me to stop playing defense and to go on the offense. I should contersue Taubman for malicious and abusive litigation. I should file ethics charges against Taubman's attorneys. I should write a book to further expose the nefarious schemes of the people who had harassed me for so long.

In the end, I opted for "all of the above."

Having said that, I should add that a few knowledgeable people pointed out that my chances of success were slim, for a variety of reasons:

  • Contersuing someone on the grounds that they had no valid reason to sue you in the first place is rarely successful.

  • Ethics boards largely exist to adjudicate fee disputes between attorneys and clients. The boards are composed of attorneys, who are notoriously protective of their own. And if I were to document my dealings with the ethics board online (as I'd done with the suit itself), the board would probably feel that I was harassing their fellow attorneys and would become even more sympathetic to them.

  • Book deals are incredibly hard to arrange. I'm a published author, which might help me get my foot in the door -- but the fact is that only a very small percentage of book proposals are ever accepted by a publisher.

But even armed with the knowledge that I was likely to fail, I felt compelled to try. It just didn't seem right that a group of people should be able to harass me for so long and not suffer any consequences whatsoever. Some of that feeling, I have to admit, was personal, a desire for a measure of revenge against the people who had dragged me through such a grueling ordeal for no good reason. And some of it was an attempt to restore a sense of fairness to the process, a gut feeling that people should be held accountable for their actions.

Here's a quick summary of the various avenues I pursued:

  • Sue the Bastards: I spoke with an attorney in Dallas who had represented clients in what he called "SLAPP-back" cases in the past. A SLAPP is a "Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation" -- which is to say that it's a lawsuit filed to silence someone by running up their legal bills. The intent of anti-SLAPP laws is to make it easier to contersue someone who SLAPPs you -- but less than half of the states have anti-SLAPP laws, and Texas (where I live) and Michigan (where the suit was filed) are not among them. "SLAPP-back cases are very difficult," the attorney said, "because the law does not favor lawsuits over lawsuits." He declined to take the case, and he couldn't think of any other attorneys in the D/FW area who might want to handle it. As the odds seemed to be stacked firmly against me, I decided not to pursue the idea of a countersuit,

  • Lock 'em Up: Attorney Doug Sprinkle had made false statements in the Court of Appeals about a key point in the case. That isn't legal, is it? Where do you report this kind of crime? (Calling 911 didn't strike me as a good plan.) Although I suspected that they had more pressing issues on their plate, I filed a complaint with the FBI. Sure enough, after a few weeks they put my complaint into what they called a "control file," which meant that they didn't plan to pursue it unless they ran out of things to do. To cover all the bases, I also filed a complaint with the US Attorney, but he basically told me that he doesn't initiate this kind of action unless it's referred to him by the FBI. Another dead end.

  • I Ought to Write a Book: I've had books published before, so writing a book about my legal ordeal didn't seem to be too much of a stretch. Since the major publishers don't like to deal with writers directly, I coaxed a friend of mine who used to be a literary agent out of retirement, and she helped me develop a proposal. She sent queries to publishers for nearly two years without receiving a positive response, so I finally decided to put the book project out of its misery. As it happens, I posted the proposal on the Web so editors could read it online if they wanted to -- and it's still there at TaubmanSucks-TheBook.com if you want to see what a universally rejected book proposal looks like. (It includes a few sample chapters for your reading pleasure.)

  • Ethically Challenged: Early in the proceedings, an attorney I met online suggested that I should file an ethics complaint against Julie Greenberg for her lack of responsiveness to my discovery requests. I didn't -- but his suggestion did lead me to conduct some research into legal ethics. As the case progressed, I became convinced that Julie and her partner Doug Sprinkle had committed ethical lapses. Nearly every lawyer I asked told me that filing ethics charges would be a waste of time. But in the end, I decided to do it anyway. Although I thought that Julie's ethical violations were more numerous (possibly because she was much more deeply involved in the case), I thought that Doug's were more serious, so I decided to pursue charges against him first (on the theory that if my charges against Doug didn't stick, I wouldn't waste my time filing against Julie).

As I should have anticipated (but didn't), the ethics procedure turned out to be incredibly long and stunningly convoluted. If you want to learn how it turned out, you'll have to plow your way through the excruciating detail I've posted on the following pages.

Note: Many of the documents included in the following pages are PDF's, which may take longer to load than if they were standard HTML pages. I'm using this technique in an effort to get the material online quickly, and I apologize in advance for any problems this might cause you.

Next: I File a Complaint

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