"Aw Shit!": My Reaction to the Flea Debacle
As everyone and his brother now knows, our dear de-blogged Flea suffered a dramatic moment in his malpractice trial: the plaintiff's attorney asked him if he was, in fact, the anonymous blogger known as "Flea." He apparently answered in the affirmative, and then had to settle his case (for a "substantial sum") instead of continuing to fight the case on its merits.
On the Pharm is correct in this:
It saddens me when a case is settled not on the facts of the case, but rather on issues that are only tangentially related to the matter at hand, at best. That said, perhaps Flea was confident in his anonymity, but probably shouldn’t have been...I, for one, am hopping mad!
Unfortunately, hindsight is 20-20, and things that are obvious after the fact are often not so obvious while they are occurring. We’ve all done things that were dumb in hindsight — myself especially — so I will refrain from being an armchair
jackassexpert and saying that Flea should have known better.
But ultimately we have a legal outcome wasn’t about the truth. The truth — whatever it happens to be — is apparently irrelevant. Unimportant, even. I think that alone is poor commentary on our legal system.
WHERE THE HELL WAS HIS DEFENSE ATTORNEY? And why didn't said defense attorney object to the question, on the grounds of relevance?
Flea -- and all of us -- have a right to blog anonymously. This also means we should have the right not to be compelled to renounce that anonymity. Anonymous blogging didn't have anything to do with the medical case at hand. What business did the attorney have bringing it up in court at all? Answer: she didn't. So I repeat, where the HELL was Flea's lawyer when that question was asked?
(Actually, Flea should have had an arrangement with his attorneys so that he could signal when there was something dangerous about a question, letting them know to either object or call for a break. He should have told his defense team about his blog, too, so they would have been alert to the possibility of a question about it.)
That said, this whole thing sucks. It just sucks.
Addendum: I don't disagree that real-time blogging about litigation is foolish. But I still think the "punishment" (settling a defensible suit, necessitating a report to the National Data Bank which will forever tarnish one's reputation) is completely inappropriate.
It's like the line from the closing argument in A Time to Kill, where Matthew McConaughey is apologizing for putting a convicted felon on the stand, but goes on to describe that the felony was statutory rape, the girl was 17 and the witness was 23, and that they later went on to marry and raise a family, and should that affect how the jury views his testimony.
From the point of view of pure justice (which I understand has nothing to do with any of this), how does saying or blogging something now have anything to do with what was or wasn't done at the time of the alleged malpractice?
It still sucks.