Some More Thoughts on Autoadmit

anonymity2.jpgA few more thoughts on Friday’s developments in the Autoadmit lawsuit. (Yes, I do have better things to do, but those things all involve coding and STATA, and my mind wanders.)

  • There is Much More Here Than Ciolli: The changes from the original to the amended complaint extend quite beyond dropping Anthony Ciolli. Plaintiffs’ theory of harm seems to have shifted – from one grounded largely in loss of employment, to one grounded largely in a tort (IIED/false light/defamation). Claims about loss of employment are gone, replaced by much more detail about the attempts by Board posters to harass the Doe plaintiffs. The result is a more streamlined theory of relief, coupled with a viable damages claim. Moreover, the complaint ties the XO board to an aborted attempt to set up a googlepages account to host a “contest” ranking law student attractiveness. This would seem like a chink in defendants’ anonymity shield.
  • The Board Responds: Read this thread, or this one, or this one. (Or, try a search for “lawsuit” on the Xoxohth page.) Lurkers and posters alike are reacting to the allegations by distancing themselves from the Board: “it is too risky to be associated with some of this s**t, and i need to focus on my exams.” Some purported named defendants are debating whether to turn another in, and others are struck by the nastiness of the place, as if for the first time. Others turn to technical solutions, seeking to preserve their anonymity. But you can’t unbreak those eggs.
  • What to make of all this? Clearly, the case has taken a more serious turn. It looks like settlement is off the table, and plaintiffs intend to go forward and actually name individual posters. The defendants’ threats and statements are chilling (and it is, in my view, a weak defense that in the speech’s original context it was surrounded by like-sounding bits of shock humor). Any poster so named will, I think, be unemployable by reputable law firms and at serious risk of failing character and fitness evaluations by State Bar Examiners. (I have some doubts that the really vile posters are law students, but maybe that is just wishful thinking.)

More: Howard Wasserman at Prawfs on the Civ/Pro aspects of the case and Salon, on the possibility of tracking down trolls.

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1 Response

  1. anonymous says:

    I have some doubts that the really vile posters are law students, but maybe that is just wishful thinking

    When I compare the sorts of people I met in law school with the sorts of people I encountered in college and high school, my intuition is that the most vile posters are more likely to be law students.