Steyn is exceedingly polite about the fact that he no longer shares the same lawyers as National Review.
“The previous lawyers and I parted company,” he said. “I now have a guy who’s a real free speech warrior who has had great consequential impact on American cases and English libel law.”
Before securing his current lawyer, Steyn announced that he’d represent himself — something he laughs at now.
“I enjoy the show biz elements of self-representation,” he said. “I don’t deny that, that’s very appealing.”
But he’s opted for lawyers — and not just any lawyer. “I thought very carefully about the new lawyers I wanted,” he said, later adding, “I am represented by counsel, but I don’t entirely rule out cross-examining Michael Mann for the sheer entertainment value. I have to think of the movie deal down the road.”
So what will go down in court Tuesday? When I ask, Steyn replies, “Please feel free to stab something into your eyeballs while I explain, because that’s the effect it has on me,” he says.
What’s happening is that the court must decide if D.C.’s anti-SLAPP law is appealable. Essentially the court proceedings so far have been a legal clusterfuck the proportions of which will be hard to detangle. “It’s the latest state in the eyeball stabbing procedural torture of this system,” he says, explaining that it could take up to a year a half for the judge to reach a decision.
What Steyn despises most about American legal system is all the “proceduralism” that goes on here.
“If you’re sued for 20 million, the thing to do is agree to 4 million,” he said, resuming his comedy riff. “I like guilty, not guilty and that’s the only thing I’m interested in. That’s one reason I countersued because his whole plan — he’s drained some poor professor up in Canada his life savings. The point is why you get the result. You’re broke, exhausted and your life is ruined. I thought it was time to apply the heat to him, which is why I am countersuing. I am happy to trust it to 12 good men or women.”
Steyn has frustrations about the case. In his own battle with Mann, in which he countersued him and Mann filed an anti-SLAPP suit right back, Steyn says he’s turned over an exhaustive list of discovery materials that Mann had requested, but Mann hasn’t reciprocated and legally doesn’t have to. Technically Steyn didn’t necessarily have to provide all the discovery materials, but did so anyhow and says he may one day turn the whole thing into a book to show everyone how absurd it is.
“I’m ready to go to court, says Steyn. “I’m ready to be staggering around, saying ‘objection’ and testifying to the jury and the rest of it. I’ve seen Law & Order and it’s all wrapped up in 50 minutes. No one would tell you in real life it takes seven years. I want my Law & Order episode. I don’t like having a decade of my life taken away for this test case. I want him to put up or shut up.”