Monday, January 07, 2008

Rocket Man

(crossposted to the Scoreheads group)

So, Roger Clemens filed suit against his alleged steroid injector.Frankly, I'm amazed.The case was filed in Texas state court, and I admit to knowing NOTHING about Texas civil procedure. However, I'm assuming they have a rule similar to the federal one where, prior to discovery, in a motion to dismiss, the court assumes that everything the plaintiff alleges is true. If those allegations state a claim, the case proceeds, and goes into discovery.THAT is where things get interesting.

Discovery involves production of documents, interrogatories (written questions) and depositions (interviews with a court reporter present), both under oath. While there are limits of course, the scope of questions that can be asked in discovery is far more broad than what could be asked/introduced at trial. I am somewhat stunned that Clemens is willing to go under oath for such a far-reaching inquiry, when many stones can be turned over (He may also try to "out-lawyer" him, given that Clemens has millions and a trainer--doesn't.)

Substantively, under Supreme Court precedent, Clemens as a public figure has to prove "actual malice." For ordinary folks like us, we can sue just for falsity, even if the defendant had thoroughly researched the matter and made a mistake. For public figures, to promote open discussion under the 1st Amendment, they have to show actual knowledge of the falsity or a "reckless disregard" for the truth.

It will be interesting!

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