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Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Kristina Chew

keep it up, keep it up---


Liz, how about if you leave a comment on Kirby's and Olmstead's blogs (so there is a trackback to your site) with the text of their email to Orac, to see if they allow it to post.

Joe McDermott

I am a lawyer. I also am a "lay skeptic" of the vaccine/autism link. By this I mean I have never been retained on any vaccine litigation and have no first hand or what I consider reliable second hand knowledge (i.e., hired an expert I have vetted and gotten his opinion first hand) to support an opinion that vaccines do or do not cause autism, but based on my reading it looks like a vaccine/autism link is not scientifically established. However, I think the blogosphere reaction to the deposition subpeona is misplaced. We have open discovery in lawsuits in this country. The standard for allowing discovery in Texas where I practice and under the federal rules (I imagine the New Hampshire standard is similar) is "the material sought appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Under this broad standard -- which reflects the sound policy judgment that litigants should be able to marshall the proof they need to presecute and defend lawsuits -- it strikes me as premature, to say the least, to say that "Ms. Seidel has no connection to the case." I can imagine a lot of circumstances where that could be untrue. For example, if it were to be found that she had received vaccine maker support for her website (I know she denies it, but the litigants don't have to take her word for it), her communications with the vaccine maker might well reveal facts that the maker was otherwise hiding from the plaintiffs. She is entitled to her expenses in complying with the subpoena -- and entitled to reschedule to a more convenient date. She would also be entitled to compensation if the subpoena were found to have been issued in bad faith. What she's not entitled to is to shut down the process on her sayso alone. I'm also not partial to the invocation of a "reporter's privilege" -- not because she's a blogger, I'd feel the same way if she were a New York Times reporter. As a matter of policy, such privileges -- which are not well founded in the law -- should yield to litigants' need to prosecute and defend their cases. I realize many on this site will disagree with me on this :)


You might have a point if the subpoena covered only communications with the vaccine maker. However, how probable is that her communications with religious groups (Muslim or otherwise, one must note) are going to reveal information that the vaccine maker is hiding from plaintiffs? Or all her communications with something like a hundred other bloggers? Or with the US Government? Or with her physician or attorney? What will materials that she received through FOIA requests reveal that the plaintiffs could not obtain, given that plaintiffs can file FOIA requests all on their very own?

Liz Ditz

On the Muslim matter: Kathleen Seidel maintains an online "Sufi Cookbook and Art Gallery", Serving the Guest, "with essays and anecdotes on the historic and contemporary role of food, eating, meals and hospitality in Sufism, the mystical tradition of Islam".


Oh, I know. It's just that little touch of specifying "Muslim or otherwise" is so obviously unnecessary (what, does he think someone is going to claim that Muslim groups -aren't- religious groups?) whether or not she has or ever had any connection to Muslim groups, and so obviously intended just to cast some kind of suspicion on her, that its very presence in the subpoena is proof that this subpoena isn't intended to produce anything meaningful in the lawsuit. That's why I quoted it.

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