This episode of Yours Truly, Johnny Atsign first ran nine years ago today.
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SOUND: Skype rings once.
JOHNNY: Johnny Atsign.
AARON: (Telephone Filter) Johnny, It’s Aaron. We won.
JOHNNY: Congratulations! How long was the jury out?
AARON: (Telephone Filter) It didn’t go to the jury. The judge cut it off after The Bomber rested his case and gave us a directed verdict.
JOHNNY: Well, we knew that he didn’t have a case.
AARON: (Telephone Filter) Yes. And he proved that for us.
MUSIC: Theme up and under.
ANNOUNCER: The Lickspittle Broadcasting System presents W. J. J. Hoge in the transcribed adventures of the man with the action-packed Twitter account, America’s fabulous free-lance Internet investigator …
JOHNNY: Yours Truly, Johnny Atsign!
MUSIC: Theme up to music out.
JOHNNY: The following is partial extract of the tweets sent and received during my investigation of Short-Fused Dud Matter.
JOHNNY TWEETS: (SYNTH VOICE) Hey, @ProBono, congratulations on a good job in court.
JOHNNY: About a year ago, an anti-First-Amendment known as The Bomber activist filed an abusive and vexatious lawsuit against a group of bloggers. He claimed that they were stalking and harassing him and engaged in a conspiracy to defame him. What they had been doing was publishing truthful information about his past crimes and present activities while at the same time mocking him.
The Bomber filed his suit seeking the usual million dollars in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland. A local lawyer, who I’ll call Pro Bono, offered to defend the victims of the lawsuit for free. I say “victims” rather than “defendants” because the clear purpose of the suit was shutuppery, pure and simple. It had no supporting facts and no basis in law.
I joined the defense team to provide investigative support.
SOUND: Road Noise. Car Interior POV.
JOHNNY: It’s about 50 miles from my place in Westminster down to Rockville in Montgomery Count where their courthouse is. Not surprisingly, the lawyer’s office was not far from the courthouse, a bit more than hour’s drive. As I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed Aaron’s car.
SOUND: Car stops. Engine off. Car door opens and closes.
JOHNNY: Hey, Aaron.
AARON: Hey, Johnny.
JOHNNY: Are you here for the meeting?
AARON: Yes. Do you know where you’re going?
JOHNNY: I’ve got the office number. Let’s see …
AARON: Follow me. I’ve been here before.
SOUND: Footsteps across parking lot.
AARON: Here we are.
SOUND: Door opens and closes.
PRO BONO: Hello, Aaron. And you must be Johnny Atsign.
JOHNNY: That’s right. Pleased to meet you.
PRO BONO: (Fading Out) Good. Take a seat. There’s a lot of work to do. This could take a while. Would either of you like a cup of coffee …
JOHNNY: (Fading In) … Whew. This case just seems to keep expanding.
PRO BONO: Yeah. The Bomber keeps trying to find a new angle that might give him some legal traction.
JOHNNY: Yeah, but with each plot twist he seems to dig a deeper hole for himself.
AARON: Which is where you fit in, Johnny. We need you to verify all those details. They’re the fill dirt that will bury him.
JOHNNY: Uh, huh. I see what you meant about keeping track of my mileage. In fact, a couple of these interviews are far enough away that I may want to fly.
PRO BONO: That’s up to you, but we need independent confirmation of these details.
JOHNNY: (Fading Out) OK. This is how I make my living. I’ll start making appointments and booking the travel.
JOHNNY: I wound up traveling out to LA with stops in the midwest on the way back. I met all sorts of interesting people.
THE GRIMMACE TWEETS: (SYNTH VOICE) @JohnnyAtsign. Call me. I have an old girlfriend you’d like to meet.
JOHNNY: An old colleague from a previous adventure called The Grimmace told me of an old girlfriend he had had in Bloomington years ago. Through her, he had met several interesting people, and one of them was of particular interest to me, a young kid dealing dope. It turned out that The Grimmace’s friend was still in Bloomington where she was practicing law. I arranged to meet her at the B Town Diner across the street from The Bluebird. And not too far from the Monroe County Courthouse.
SOUND: Restaurant background.
JOHNNY: MizB, thank you for meeting me.
MIZB: When The Grimmace called me and told me what you’re investigating, I wanted to help.
MIZB: Look, I hung out with some … shall we say … interesting characters when I was in school—The Grimmace is an example—and almost all of us got our acts together and became responsible adults. The Bomber, on the other hand, went from being a petty criminal to something much worse. I thought he was still in prison for the stuff he did up in Speedway. I hadn’t heard anything about him since the VP dope dealing lies.
JOHNNY: Why do you call those stories lies?
MIZB: Because they are. The Bomber met the VP-to-be through me. I grew up with the VP’s wife, but we really didn’t hang out together here in Bloomington. The Bomber happened to be at my place when she came by introduce her new husband to me. The Grimmace was there too. Ask him.
JOHNNY: OK, what else do you want to tell me?
MIZB: (Fade Out) Like I said, he started out as a small time dealer …
SOUND: Restaurant background out.
ANNOUNCER: Here in Westminster, we’re having those pleasant summer evenings when it’s nice to sit on the porch and sip a cold drink while listening to crickets and watching the lightning bugs. I’ve been sipping mine from a Res Judicata travel mug. It’s just one of the goodies exclusively available for you to spend your hard-earned cash on at The Hogewash Store. Stop by today, and spend some cash to support Team Lickspittle. You can also show your support by hitting the Tip Jar.
JOHNNY: The Bomber’s first foray into shutuppery by lawsuit some years ago was mostly successful because he picked on a single blogger with limited resources. This suit failed in no small measure because he went after multiple defendants who received significant support, including legal help, from around the blogosphere. One of the defendants was himself a lawyer.
The Bomber was amazingly inept in his prosecution of his case. He kept falling into traps of his own making. He failed to serve court papers properly and then got caught forging the Certified Mail green cards that he claimed were proof of service. He failed properly respond to discovery due to the defendants and was sanctioned for that.
One theory of the the lawsuit is that The Bomber knew that it was a losing proposition from Day One and that he filed it as a means of harassing some of his perceived enemies. By proceeding on his own without a lawyer, he didn’t expect to have any significant financial expense; he was conducting lawfare on the cheap.
Another theory suggests that the reason that he was unrepresented was that no lawyer was willing to risk his license to practice by signing off on the claims The Bomber was making.
Both of those make some sense, but here’s what I believe. I believe that the truth coming out about The Bomber was beginning to cause a noticeable drop in donations coming into his not-for-profits and that bruised his sense of entitlement. Remember that this case has been called “The Short-Fused Dud Matter.” He couldn’t control his temper, so he foolishly sued people who had the goods on him and who then went looking for more.
And a dud. He lost. And he did it big time. The loss in this state case will severely cripple his federal RICO suit. That suit is not only against a group of bloggers but also some major media entities, major media entities with industrial-strength legal support.
Yep. A short-Fused Dud.
JOHNNY TWEETS: (SYNTH VOICE) @TheBomber, had enough?
MUSIC: Theme up and under
ANNOUNCER: Now, here’s our star to tell you about next week’s intriguing episode of our story.
JOHNNY: Next week? RICO Madness. Join us, won’t you?
Yours Truly, Johnny Atsign!
MUSIC: Swell theme and under
ANNOUNCER: Yours Truly, Johnny Atsign, starring W. J. J. Hoge, is transcribed in Westminster. Be sure to join us next Monday, same time and URL, for the next exciting episode of Yours Truly, Johnny Atsign.
MUSIC: Theme up to music out.
ANNOUNCER: Johnny Atsign is a work of fiction. If anyone thinks it’s about him, he should read Proverbs 28:1.
This is LBS, the Lickspittle Broadcasting System.
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All the LBS scripts are fictional, but as The Portly Pundit was able to figure out, all the characters are based on real people. MIZB and her remarks about The Bomber are based on two real people who lived in Bloomington during the ’70s.