Tuesday, December 5, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Fellow Birthers Peck at Orly Taitz in 9th Circuit

PASADENA, Calif. (CN) - A birther-conspiracy theorist told the 9th Circuit that the so-called queen of that movement, Orly Taitz, harassed his paralegal as part of a political hatchet job.

Taitz, usually the plaintiff in unsuccessful challenges to the legitimacy of Obama's presidency, faces a civil suit alleging that she and her organization, Defend Our Freedoms Foundation, defamed attorney Philip Berg and his paralegal, Lisa Liberi.

Berg and Liberi say Taitz found Liberi's personal information, including her Social Security number, and then mass-emailed the information and published it online.

Taitz has run into problems with other people's Social Security numbers before.

In 2011, a Washington federal judge said Taitz "is either toying with the court or displaying her own stupidity," by repeatedly failing to properly redact Obama's Social Security number in complaints that claimed he was using the number illegally.

Taitz appeared before the 9th Circuit on Wednesday after a federal judge in Santa Ana, Calif., refused to dismiss Berg and Liberi's complaint under California's anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) law.

Berg, of Lafayette Hill, Pa., said the current fight marks Taitz attempt for "a third bite at the apple."

He said she had filed an anti-SLAPP motion in a Pennsylvania federal court, where the case was originally filed, and then another motion after the case was transferred to California.

Since a first amended complaint is now pending, Berg said there is "no question that this case is moot."

He accused Taitz and her co-defendants of dragging their feet.

Judge Richard Clifton interjected that "an anti-SLAPP motion doesn't delay the case, it seeks to bring it to head, albeit on precise grounds."

The lawyer also said that Taitz fails on the merits and has been acting "with malice." He called her actions "deplorable."

"They've decided that they're going to get rid of me politically in a certain case," Berg said. "To do that they're decided to get rid of me by taking down my paralegal."

Taitz and Defend Our Freedoms had published Liberi's social security number "over a million times," he added.

Berg also noted that Taitz had also misinformed the 9th Circuit clerk through her counsel that Berg had been disbarred.

"I wasn't disbarred," he said. "That to me is violation of my rights."

The three-judge panel questioned why Berg had not filed a motion for sanctions, and asked him to point to something in the record.

Backtracking, Berg answered that he would file a motion relating to that issue at some point in the future.

Taitz's attorney, Jeffrey Cunningham, addressed this point in rebuttal, saying his team had admitted that they sent the notice in error based on a Pennsylvania order that is not final.

He argued that all requests for sanctions related to motions that had been "resolved."

Judge Stephen Trott shot back: "Guess who the merits panel is? And so you say we've resolved all of that?"

The panel seemed to lose patience when Cunningham said Berg was to blame for the bulk of the motions before the court.

"There's been lots of papers filed by lawyers on both sides," Clifton said. "Most of which don't do them proud."

Cunningham, of Costa Mesa, Calif., also argued that the appeal is not moot under Pacific Bell Telephone Co. v. LinkLine Communications, a 2009 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.