Monday, August 8, 2011

*UPDATE* OP-Ed: Freedom of Speech Under Attack - Rockstar05's Attorney Files Motion to Quash Thomas M Cooley Law School's Subpoena

A few months ago I relayed information about Thomas M. Cooley Law School. It was from a little bird named Ch. Burns. The school has now filed two lawsuits, claiming that their reputation has been damaged by Ch. Burns and three other "John Does." The other lawsuit is against a New York City Law Firm. The suits  (see here and here) were filed - Lord only knows why -  in Ingham County (Michigan) Circuit Court on July 14, 2011. Jesse Strauss and David Anziska are the two attorneys at Kurzon Strauss who have been accused of defaming the school.

One of the other John Does, Rockstar05 has responded to the complaint and their demand to have his/her identity revealed. Rockstar05 has encouraged me and others to provide this critical information.

Rocktar05's attorney, John T. Herman, has filed a motion to quash Cooley's subpoena. In the introduction to the case, the document states, "the present case is a textbook example of a SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) suit brought by Plaintiffs [Cooley] against the above captioned Doe Defendants for participating in hosting a internet blog forum in which the blogger, identified as 'Rockstar05' expressed his personal opinion about Thomas M Cooley Law School's ("Cooley Law School") (1) open door admissions policies; (2) high attrition rates and unfriendly administrative policies; (3) law school ranking system; (4) employment rates of recent graduates . . . In the blog, Rockstar05 explicitly states that the commentary contained in the blog [is] an "expression of his own personal opinion."

Here are some more highlights:

"Cooley is now the emperor who appears angry at being told he not wearing any clothing."

"Once the identity of 'Rockstar05' is known or disclosed, it is entirely likely that anyone (which may include current students and/or faculty) associated with 'Rockstar05' blog site will end up as another target for Cooley's wrath [my emphasis]. Such Orwellian tactics are an abuse of the legal system and constitute a reckless disregard for the constitutional protections of the First Amendment."

"Plaintiff clearly uses its self-published rankings as a shameless marketing tool . . . Plaintiff then proceeds to openly boast about integrity and ethics at the core of its institution of higher learning. John Doe 1 has confined his blog post to his personal opinions, and experiences identifying the institutional hypocrisy evidence in Cooley's business practices which involve millions of federally backed loans [my emphasis]."

That last point is quite important, and one of the reasons I have brought this case to the attention of my contacts on the Hill (and they have received this current update already). I intend to bring it up in my meetings in mid-August, too. The case shines light on the way in which powerful and moneyed institutions, like Cooley, are trying to strip citizens of their right to free speech. Are they really deserving of those federally backed loans when they threaten former students with SLAPP suits? That's the question I will be asking when I visit with folks on the Hill in a few weeks.

I've been neutral on my reporting of this situation, but I refuse to remain silent about the matter now. This young person must be protected. Their identity should not be revealed. The matter is huge. This is about freedom of speech, and Cooley has no right to squelch these John Does.

As another blogger wrote when discussing the Cooley fiasco, I too hope they don't sue me for expressing my opinion. After all, they've threatened me already . . .

Here's the entire document.

Cooley's Response

"Jim Thelen, Cooley's general counsel, said when the suit was filed that the posts are damaging because prospective students search the Web for information about law schools."

Source: Court House Forum

I alerted the ACLU in Michigan. They responded to me immediately, and thanked me for the information.

Also, Cooley is opening a campus in Florida!

Related Links

"Lawyer says Cooley Law School's suit just trying to silence critical bloggers," Detroit Free Press 

"Stink Pit Central: Fourth Tier Dung Pile Thomas M. Cooley Law School Sues Bloggers," Third Tier Reality (July 18, 2011)

"Thomas M Cooley Law School Sues NYC Law Firm and 4 'John Does' for Defamation: Seeking Answers and Help from the Hill," AEM (July 19, 2011)

"I see defamation cases everywhere . . ." Wells Law Blog (July 16, 2011)

"BREAKING! Thomas Cooley Law School Fights Back And Sues a Law Firm and Four 'John Does,'" AEM (July 14, 2011)

"Cooley Law School Files Suit to Protect Students, Alumni and Reputation,"  Thomas M. Cooley Law School (July 14, 2011)

"Thomas Cooley Law School - What Are They Hiding?," AEM (July 15, 2011)

"The Thomas M. Law School Scam" 

"Repost - Investigating Law Schools (Class Action Case)," AEM (May 22, 2011)

"[UPDATE] Dean James Thelen from Thomas M. Cooley Law School Responds With A Threatening Letter," AEM (April 28, 2011) - Primary Document

"Part II: Thomas M Cooley Law School," AEM (April 28, 2011)

"UPDATED] MUST READ: Thomas M Cooley Law School Under Investigation For Serious Title IV Violations," AEM (April 27, 2011)


Anonymous said...

Oh look. . .no one cares!

C. Cryn Johannsen said...

Oh look . . . you're WRONG! I have already had over 500 hits today, and right now, as I write this to you - you troll - I have 5 people live. So, uh, yeah . . . people care, especially those who are threatened.

C. Cryn Johannsen said...

@Anonymous 11:31 AM - for someone who doesn't care about this blog, you sure spend A LOT of time here. You've been here at least 38 times! So thanks for caring!

C. Cryn Johannsen said...

Yeah, they don't care . . . that's why I have had nearly 700 hits already, and countless people viewing it NOW.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous poster above at 11:31 AM is probably a fucking Cooley troll. Fucking Cooley admins and trolls running around online everywhere trying to police the internet and defend its "reputation" LMAO. A shameless law school that demonstrates this type of reckless disregard for the first amendment of this nation and sues one of its former students- headlines written all over it. Especially considering the HIGHLY questionable business practices over at Cooley it is stupifying as to why they would invite this type of scrutiny into their own backyard. The "Striesand Effect" will soon become known as the "Cooley Effect". You heard it here first.

Anonymous said...

For the Cooley troll

Cooley is shittier than shit. How do you like them apples?