Thursday, February 7, 2013
Judges Say ‘Birther’ Dispute May Be Moot
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges hearing an appeal from the denial of an anti-SLAPP motion in a suit between two attorneys prominently referred to as “birthers” suggested yesterday that the case may be moot.
Senior Judge Stephen Trott and Judges Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain and Richard Clifton, hearing arguments in Pasadena, suggested that the filing of an amended complaint by Philip Berg may make it unnecessary to determine whether his original complaint against Orly Taitz should have been stricken.
Taitz, who practices in Orange County, filed the appeal after U.S. District Judge Andrew Guilford denied her motion to throw out the defamation complaint filed by Berg on behalf of himself and others, including his paralegal, Lisa Liberi.
Berg, who practices in Lafayette, Pa. near Philadelphia, originally filed the suit in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, but the defendants won a change of venue.
The Pennsylvania lawyer and Taitz have filed numerous lawsuits around the country challenging the legitimacy of Barack Obama’s presidency. They allege he was not born in the United States and that the birth certificate that he made public is a forgery.
Despite their shared antipathy towards the president, Berg and Taitz have clashed over their respective roles in the movement.
Berg argued yesterday for himself, as well as for the other plaintiffs, notably his paralegal Lisa Liberi. Liberi claims that Taitz maliciously placed a huge volume of information, much of it private and much of it false, on the Internet.
One of the allegedly defamatory accusations is that Liberi has a criminal conviction from San Bernardino County.
Taitz was present in court yesterday, but attorney Jeffrey Cunningham argued on her behalf.
If the court does reach the merits, Berg told the panel, it should affirm because the plaintiffs, in particular Liberi, are not public figures. Taitz’s aim in bringing the suit, he said, is to “get rid of me by taking out my paralegal.”
Both Berg and Taitz have sought public office. Berg ran for a judgeship in his home state, and is a former member of the state Democratic committee. Taitz lost bids for California secretary of state in 2010 and for U.S. senator last year.
Copyright 2013, Metropolitan News Company