Jihad-by-lawsuit fails in Boston

The American system of litigation, allowing anyone to sue anyone for anything, thereby inflicting major costs (for legal counsel and time) on any enemy, is an open invitation to legal thuggery by the wealthy. Proposals to implement the English system, whereby the loser in a lawsuit pays the winner's legal costs, have always run into fatal opposition by those protectors of the rights of the little guy, the tort lawyer lobby and its captive political party, the Democrats.

In this era of deep-pocketed Islamic groups, it was inevitable that this available tool would be exploited by groups seeking to stifle any criticism of Islam or radical Islamists. The phrase "jihad-by-lawsuit" has been invented to cover such instances, the most recent of which is CAIR's notorious lawsuit threatened against passengers on the USAirways flight in Minneapolis who alerted authorities of the suspicious behavior of the Flying Imams.

But long before the Imams asked for seat belt extenders for svelte clergy, a particularly troublesome lawsuit was brought in Boston in 2005, by the Islamic Society of Boston, against  private groups and individuals as well as selected press outlets, which brought to light embarrassing details of a deal between the Boston Redevelopment Authority and the ISB, handing over land for construction of a new mosque at an extraordinarily cheap price.

Solomonia brings us the good news  that the ISB has completely dropped the lawsuit. Quoting from a press release of the David Project, one of the groups sued,

The David Project has announced that the Islamic Society of Boston ("ISB") and its officers have withdrawn all of their claims against all of the citizens who raised concerns about the ISB, its funding and its leadership, as well as all of their claims against the Boston Herald, Fox-TV and the various journalists whose investigative pieces about the ISB in 2003 and 2004 disclosed damaging information about the ISB and its controversial land deal with the Boston Redevelopment Authority ("BRA"). The ISB and its officers have abandoned all of their claims against all of the defendants they sued 2 years ago, without payment to the ISB or to them of any money whatsoever.

The ISB's decision to drop all of its claims against all of the 17 defendants it sued back in 2005 alleging "defamation" and accusing them of conspiring to violate its civil rights comes just months after the defendants--who included a Muslim cleric, a Christian political science professor and the Jewish daughter of Holocaust survivors, as well as Boston civic leader William Sapers and national terrorism expert Steven Emerson--had begun through their lawyers to conduct discovery into the ISB's financial records, its receipt of millions of dollars in funding from Saudi Arabian and other Middle Eastern sources, its contributions to certain organizations and the records of certain of its officers and directors. The ISB's abandonment of its lawsuits comes only weeks after two of its original Middle Eastern Trustees, Walid Fitaihi of Saudi Arabia and Ali Tobah of Egypt, suddenly resigned as Trustees just before they were required to submit themselves to the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts court hearing the case.
While this is a victory, it could be a Pyrrhic one, for immense costs have already been inflicted, and there is not much prospect that they can be recovered. It is not at all uncommon for meretricious litigation to be dropped when discovery looms. If the defendants are tied up and impoverished, the litigant may accomplish its purpose without a courtroom victory.

On the other hand, it is always dangerous for financial goliaths  to push around a group which models itself on David:
"We were determined from the beginning to act the way citizens should, by asking questions about this matter and by refusing to be intimidated into staying silent," said David Project founder and President Charles Jacobs, "and we intend to continue as we have before. Indeed, the evidence that has emerged about the transaction, about the BRA's failure to do due diligence into those whom it chose to subsidize and about the funding and the leadership of the organization that received this public subsidy is of extremely deep concern. That evidence not only vindicates the reporting of the courageous journalists whose investigative work broke the story back in 2003 and 2004, but validates many times over the concerns expressed by the good and decent citizens-Muslims, Christians and Jews- who refused to stay silent."

"Those citizens were vilified by the ISB for having had the courage to speak out", said Jacobs. "The ISB's abandonment of its claims without payment of one dollar to them, coming as it does as the ISB was ordered to turn over evidence, speaks more eloquently than anything else could about the truth of what these citizens said, about the validity of their concerns, and about the lack of merit to the ISB's allegations that they had been ‘defamed' and had been financially ‘damaged'. Above all, the ISB's ultimate abandonment of its lawsuits speaks eloquently about the importance of refusing to be bullied and intimidated into silence."

If the BRA is forced to reveal its incompetence or worse, perhaps some meaningful reforms will be possible.

The best possible outcome, however, would be for this case to gain publicity, and help press the case for implementing the English rule for lawsuits, as a matter of national security.

I wonder how many profiles in courage awards we will see for the Boston Herald and WXNE, the Fox-owed affiliate in Boston, which stood up to the bullies who used lawsuit intimidation to try to silence reporters digging into public corruption? In a world of an unbiased journalistic establishment, there would be Peabody Awards, Pulitizers, and other awards of merit. If, as I expect, the journalistic establishment averts its eyes and moves on, that will be another nail in the coffin of their reputations.

Congratulations to all the defendants. May they press on. Let us watch the reaction of the MSM to this case, It is a victory for freedom of the press.