A month ago, we wrote about actor James Woods bizarrely suing a trollish
Twitter user who had been mocking Woods on the site. The whole lawsuit seemed ridiculous. The specific tweet that sent Woods over the edge was this anonymous user (who went by the name "Abe List") saying "cocaine addict James Woods still sniffing and spouting." Soon after our post on the subject, Ken "Popehat" White posted an even better takedown entitled James Woods Punches the Muppet
. That post has now been updated with a brief note that White has now been retained to defend the anonymous Twitter user. And, if that gets you excited for what to expect in the legal filings, well, you don't have wait. As first reported by Eriq Gardner at the Hollywood Reporter, White has filed the John Doe's opposition
to Woods' attempt to unmask the guy. And it's worth reading.
Problem number one with Woods' suit is laid out right at the beginning of the filing, which is that Woods himself has a habit of accusing others of using illegal drugs as well, just as Abe List did:
The filing shows other tweets from Woods that have similar words that Woods complained about Abe List using, such as "clown" and "scum." As the filing notes, it appears Woods thinks that he can use those insults towards others, but if anyone uses them towards him, it's somehow defamatory.
Plaintiff, an internationally known actor, is active on Twitter, a social media platform.
There he is known for engaging in rough-and-tumble political debate. Plaintiff routinely
employs insults like “clown” and “scum,” and even accuses others of drug use as a rhetorical
But Plaintiff apparently believes that while he can say that sort of thing to others,
others cannot say it to him. He has sued Mr. Doe for a derisive tweet referring to him as
“cocaine addict James Woods still sniffing and spouting” in the course of political back-andforth.... He also complains, at length, that Mr. Doe has called him things
like a “clown” and “scum.” Naturally, Plaintiff has himself called others “clown” or “scum”
The filing, quite reasonably, notes that these kinds of hyperbolic claims cannot be seen as defamatory, and since there's no legitimate claim here, there is no reason to do expedited discovery or to unmask Abe List, who is entitled to have his identity protected under the First Amendment.
Oh, and, not surprisingly, White will be filing an anti-SLAPP motion shortly, which may mean that Woods is going to have to pay for this mess that he caused.
The filing also notes that while Woods sent a subpoena to Twitter to try to seek Abe List's identity, the company turned it down as deficient. The full two page letter is in the filing below as Exhibit B, but a quick snippet on the First Amendment concerns: