Saturday, June 09, 2012

You gotta admire the chutzpah

Some hilarious acts of spin going on regarding the latest ruling in the California resale royalty lawsuit.

Here's the story.  Last month a federal district court dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that the statute was unconstitutional.  The plaintiffs filed a motion to stay the ruling pending their appeal.  This week, that motion was denied -- yet this is somehow being reported in the press as a victory for plaintiffs.

You see, it was a clever act of litigation jujitsu:  the plaintiffs "cleverly asked the court to stay the invalidation of the law—of course, they believed that the ruling had done no such thing, but they wanted to get the judge to state that."  Ahh, the old reverse psychology trick.  Well played, plaintiffs' counsel.  Well played.

Look, this is complete nonsense.  It was not "a victory cloaked in the language of defeat," and it did not "narrow[] the previous decision" in the case.  All it was was a tautological statement that a single district court decision is not binding on anyone other than the parties to the case, so there is nothing to stay.  State officials remain free to enforce the statute, and other plaintiffs are free to bring suit under it.  That's not in any way specific to this ruling.  That's just a fact about district court decisions generally.  There was no "victory" here, backhanded or otherwise.