SocraticGadfly: Ty Clevenger — Joey Dauben with a law degree?

April 23, 2018

Ty Clevenger — Joey Dauben with a law degree?

Ty Clevenger, handout picture
In my opinion, that could be one good way to describe the caped-crusading lawyer from central Texas now removed to Brooklyn.

Clevenger, for the unfamiliar, runs the Lawflog blog. From what I know, based on having known of him for several years and having some familiarity with the area, it has a fair degree of accuracy on Hearne and Robertson County issues. (IMO, he's spot on about most of what he writes about the Robertson County News.) That said, as Clevenger is both a lawyer and a former journo, he knows just how far to push something on the side of opinion or speculation while getting close to calling it fact, or on stuff that is fact but controversial, he knows just how much legal footing he has.

Joey Dauben, the erstwhile "publisher" of several online "newspapers" in Ellis County, had a hazier view of such issues. But, he had no money to make it worth suing, though — or some people may have thought that. He was sued successfully over cybersquatting and ordered to pay fines that he probably never coughed up before the Texas Department of Criminal Justice gave him a decades-long seat in one of its Holiday Inns. More on that parallel with Clevinger below.

Speaking of, back to Clevenger.

The further away from Robertson County you get, the less trustworthy he is. He's a gun nut, from what I can tell on Twitter, enough of one to do the "David Hogg Hitler salute" meme and enough of one to call for armed teachers. He's also a Seth Rich conspiracy theorist and a MAGA-head, one who touts right-wing and even far-right-wing blogs. This too would surely parallel Dauben, were Dauben not in the custody of the state of Texas.

On Rich? Clevinger (who is more than too clever by half, I see what I did) has filed an FIOA lawsuit. They don't require "standing," of course. (Update, June 11: He's Ed Butowsky's lawyer, which partially explains his running down this rabbit hole. And, he's now butthurt that Aaron Rich has subpoeanaed his own Twitter account, among other things, as part of his well-called-for defamation suit against Butowsky and other wingnuts. And, with that, I'm wondering if Seth Rich's parents will further expand their suit, too. Per the original suit, Clevenger is attorney for America First Media Group, a total wingnut outfit whose name says something.)

And, Clevenger's butthurtness is self-inflicted, per that last link:
Mr. Rich’s parents filed a suit this week against Fox News, producer Malia Zimmerman, and frequent guest Ed Butowsky. I think that was a serious tactical error. All of the defendants now have the legal right to subpoena documents and witnesses, and you can be sure they will use that power aggressively.
Discovery cuts both ways, and is a bitch, Ty. 

(Update, Aug. 22: The trial court has dismissed the case, claiming lack of specificity. The family plans to appeal.)

Even more disgusting is the patronizing attitude of another wingnut outfit:
I had hoped we had reached a point in the evolution of this case that the family might want to support the discovery of the truth for their dear son.
Hey, Ty? If you had some more integrity, you'd repudiate BS like this. 

But, he's a full-on winger, like speaking at an event called MAGA Rising. (Pseudo-progressive and real wingnut Jared Beck spoke there too.

Of course, our legal beagle has one thing wrong from the start. Since the FBI is NOT investigating the death — that's still with DC Metropolitan Police — it's a non-starter (except to fuel conspiracy theories) to ask it, let alone the NSA et al, for files. Ditto on throwing Hillary in there. (See more on my blog post about Rich's parents suing Fox et al.)

(Per this good Seth Rich events timeline, the law enforcement who first said the FBI was involved withdrew that claim. Rod Wheeler then also withdrew it.)

Also, Ty, it's a false flag to tell Rich's parents "why not ask Wikileaks to turn stuff over." Assange ain't doing that, and you know that. Why don't you ask Assange instead?

It's even more a false flag to claim there's a conspiracy blocking Wikileaks from revealing anything. Really? Since when has Julian Assange felt constrained by anything? The reality is that about half of what Clevenger claimed in his initial filing is simply untrue; Rod Wheeler has said that multiple times.

Stick to Booger County Mafia, Ty. It's more fun watching your personal feud with Dennis Phillips play out.

Idries Shah
Meanwhile, I'm curious why some of the "other side" in Hearne tossed Ty aside after initially successfully using his services. I'm fairly sure that, even in a small town like this, this is yet another example of Idries Shah's famous utterance:
To 'see both sides' of a problem is the surest way to prevent its complete solution. Because there are always more than two sides.
Unfortunately, the third, and beyond, sides, are usually quiet about their take on issues. And, if they're would-be mediators, they get flamed by the first and second sides. At other places, I've seen third sides and more on issues.

All of this adds up to make him less than 100 percent trustworthy even on Hearne issues, like that, and even given the reality of what I know about Hearne. There, even, he's ... he's Joey Dauben with a brain and a law degree. Or, a more acerbic, low-rent, wingnut Glenn Greenwald.

Clevinger reminds me a bit of Dauben in other ways. Dauben would cybersquat on misspelled versions of website URLs. Clevenger creates websites like "Booger County Mafia" and "Dirty Rotten Judges" then lets them expire after a year or so.

On the third hand, per TPM, as well as the link below, he does take on Republicans as well as Democrats. (On the back of the third hand, though, that's probably selective on the GOP; I doubt he'd ever take on a Tea Partier or Trumper.)

On the fourth hand, his care for women sexually harassed, let alone abused, by judges is hypocritically selective:
On the fourth hand in addition to this hypocrisy, I'm not sure how much in the way of civil rights case work he does, and how broadly he defines that term.

Then, there's other parallels with Dauben. One would be the idea that the law and the rule of law don't necessarily personally apply to him. While part of it may be contempt for being held in judicial contempt, he — he of liking to expose financial irregularities – owed $150K in judicial fines, until he negotiated the equivalent of a plea bargain to pay just $5K and not practice in DC Court any more for the $123K he was sanctioned there. Not sure if that $150K includes this $17K or not. Somebody needs to ask a court to freeze Clevenger's assets. And, beyond the barratry, Clevenger has a past history of legal fishing expeditions and of arguably misrepresenting his domicile, as at the same time he's listed as a Waco attorney in this May 2018 Twin Peaks story, he's been living in Brooklyn for what, a few years?

Related: When a lawyer friend gets a sexual-assault convicted cop off with no jail time, well, in that case, Ty won't break a sweat.

(Also, the $150K link, from the Snooze, started with him getting Denton County to launch a court of inquiry against former Dallas County DA Craig Watkins. It found nothing. Sadly, crusty curmudgeon Jim Schutze packed his own animus against Watkins.)

Yet another parallel, per this snarky tweet, is arguably anti-gay bigotry. I have no idea if, like with Dauben, there's any fire behind that smoke. Yes, he's married; that proves nothing. Ted Haggard was married when his gay sex scandal hit the fan, after all.

And, per tweets like this bashing Black Lives Matter, I'd argue that the fire of racism is behind that smoke. (Clevenger could say, "But, I've legally represented Hispanics and blacks in Hearne." I'd respond: "That proves nothing. You could be doing that just for your pound of flesh. Besides, have any of them seen your Twitter feed?" Beyond that, you represented them as city council members, not as individuals. On the third hand, at times, his representation of a minority appears truly sincere.)

Related to that? One brief pair of paragraphs at the very bottom of one long post is all Ty ever wrote about former Hearne officer Stephen Stem, fired after fatally shooting two civilians, in different incidents, in less than a full year on the job. Nor did Clevenger write a thing about Stem being no-billed by a Robertson County grand jury. Stem eventually lost his wrongful termination suit against the city, which Clevenger also won't tell you. Nor did he write about Stem's prior background.

Lemme know if one of your civil rights cases is for a gay person experiencing employment discrimination.

As for his claim that soon-to-be 82nd District Judge Bryan Russ is a career criminal, Clevenger's being too cute by far. First, he knows that something like a blog is considered a statement of opinion, not fact. (So is a Dennis Phillips column in the Robertson County News, misspellings, bad grammar and all.) Second, Russ and Clevenger seem to have about equal amounts of obfuscation in their backgrounds. Third, if he truly believed Russ — or current 82nd District Judge Richard Stem — were criminal in behavior, he's swear out a criminal complaint. Actually, he went before a grand jury — and lost. That's probably because, as I see it, petition signatures are not a government record. (This is not to say that neither Russ nor Stem isn't "shady" in one way or another. Nor is it to deny that perhaps Russ — like others in either Robertson or Falls counties — has committed civil fraud on real estate dealings. [Clevenger also knows the difference between civil and criminal fraud, and that real estate fraud, if it happened, as in mineral rights issues, isn't criminal fraud.])

Oh, not content with other sneers, Ty has this in one of his Russ screeds:
(A)cademia is better known these days for intolerance and closed-mindedness.
Followed by:
Mr. Russ is and always has been a Democrat, like Ms. Roe and all of the other Booger County Mafia kingpins. 
What, Ty? There's no Republican corruption anywhere, anytime? As for academia? Puhleeze. Christian fundamentalists don't like the open-mindedness of academia, let alone public universities teaching evolution, etc. Guess folks like Talking Points Memo only selectively read about you.

Beyond that, as another example from Twitter, he clearly thinks fundamentalist and conservative evangelical Christianity is the only "real" type.

From Falls County, yeah, Ricky Scaman has about zero ethics. That said, I don't think the Pamplins have a lot more. And what a fucking spin doctor he is, as representing the Pamplins, to claim:
The Pamplins also settled their dispute with Scaman. Their settlement agreement included taking down a website Scaman claimed was libelous. 
“Scaman’s lawsuit was bogus, and if I was Mark Stratton, I wouldn’t have settled,” said attorney Ty Clevenger, who represented the Pamplins. “The Pamplins didn’t pay him anything. They didn’t pay him one dime. They just both agreed to walk away. My biggest criticism of Mark Stratton was that he brought a lawsuit with no merit in the first place. The Pamplins didn’t do anything that the First Amendment doesn’t give them the right to do.”
So, Ty, you're their attorney. You signed off on this settlement. Then you turn around and badmouth it? If that's not chutzpah on steroids .... If you really felt THAT confident, you would have countersued, given what I see as your reputation.
And, since this time, Scaman, a Republican, has had SHITLOADS of corruption.

And (this is getting more fun) Clevenger has allegedly smeared a school superintendent among his past legal barratry nefariousness.
After a joint college-district meeting March 2, Cooke said Clevenger approached her to ask why trustees were not yet made aware of his letter. She told him and Saccoccio the letter would be shared at the rescheduled March 4 board meeting. 
"They did not accept this explanation, and the next day began an email and text campaign against me and my board with unfounded allegations," she said.
So, this too means that his Robertson County claims are, to some degree, "he said, she said." AS this link shows. And, in other cases, again, people he represents legally eventually drop him.

I know that Brains, if not perhaps worshiping the ground he walks on, may think more highly of him than I do. (See his comment below.) That's perhaps because, in addition to his "Booger County Mafia" take on Hearne and Robertson County already being familiar to me years ago, some of his other stuff was also familiar to me.

Overall, Clevenger exemplifies my take on an old cliche: "Sometimes the enemy of my enemy is my temporary ally of convenience and nothing more."

And, again, the bottom line is — his national-level conspiracy thinking and related undercut his local-level reliability to some degree.

At the state level, his "selectivity" is interesting. Is it because Abel Reyna was otherwise a "law and order" DA that Clevenger never blogged about the Twin Peaks post-shooting legal clusterfuck? (And, he didn't; I searched his blog; he did have that claiming to be a Waco attorney comment above, but that's different.) And, even his actions against District Judge Walter Smith were motivated in part by past politically-driven legal cases.

Relevant to today's political world, too — Clevenger is on record, and cited in a book, as thinking that illegal immigration fosters gangsterism (footnote 229)

Hey, Ty ... you're getting into Actual Flatticus territory now.

But, none of this should be taken as implying that the Phillipses have a high degree of ethics in running papers in Hearne or Marlin. I have enough direct knowledge there, in addition to what Clevenger wrote 3-4 years ago, when he paid more attention to Hearne.

That said, Clevenger didn't write that much about the Phillipses themselves when I was in Marlin before. I might have been more forewarned about moving back if he had.

That's because he doesn't want to, if it's more than low-hanging fruit. I'd given him material ... hints, if not directly. He chose never to run with it.

The reality is Ty Clevenger and Dennis Phillips are kind of made for each other and kind of deserving each other.


Oct. 4: Clevenger is doubling down on Seth Rich conspiracy theories to the point that he tries to get Aaron Rich's attorney to have ex parte conversation with him (a legal term, Ty), and "assumes facts not in evidence" (a legal term, Ty) in claiming Rich-Wikileaks connections. And as of March 2019, he's basically filed a SLAPP lawsuit against Seth Rich's parents attorneys. And then hid his ass by claiming he doesn't have time to blog about it. And the shyster knows there's no federal anti-SLAPP law.

As cheering section support for that, Ty cites an online rag run by people who are in one case, a Christian identitarian, and in another, an Obama birther.

July 24, 2020: Clevenger et al now want to have a totally new round of discovery. Proving that he, and his client, are both Seth Rich conspiracy theorists, they both want that discovery to include a nameless former British ambassador to Uzbekistan who is almost surely Assange toady Craig Murray.


PDiddie said...

Hey, I just link to his blog and put him in the Wrangle once in awhile. As with Ted and Kuffner.

Gadfly said...

Maybe I harshed up on you a bit much ... i'll edit.

And, had I known part of what I didn't know before I briefly returned to Marlin, I probably would have remembered Clevenger earlier and that would have been a factor in not returning in the first place.

Gadfly said...

Further note to Brains, two-plus years later. Kuff and Ted are both ConservaDems. Neither is a conspiracy theorist, far worse.