From time to time, as a pro-bono McKenzie Friend here in the UK, I have helped appellants have restraining orders removed. In UK civil procedure, appeals require permission followed by a substantive hearing. Often, where a case is doomed, likely to be excessively costly or embarrassing, a party will cave in. It looks like Zoe Quinn (also known as Chelsea van Valkenburg) did just that on 07/08/2015.
I personally find this incredibly annoying, but when the other side caves in, I am usually forced to advise my client to sip it up because that is in their best interests. What we normally do is negotiate what we want in the form of a consent order in return for letting the other side off without applying for costs against them.
It is theoretically possible to proceed to a hearing for judgement anyway but normally the client is better off just taking the surrender, getting it worded the way they want and avoiding the aggravation and expense of going to a full hearing. It does sometimes happen especially when a public body wants the law clarified but with private clients it is incredibly rare.
However, this looks like exactly what is happening in Valkenburg v Gjoni. The court dockets in the case are available online according to latest posts at the Massachusetts appeal court page for the case (archive here).
[A note about dates. I use UK dating (dd/MM/yyyy). The Massachusetts court system uses US dating (MM/dd/yyyy)]
- On 12/06/2015 Gjoni, via his attorney, issued an appellate notice, application to appeal out of time and a number of supporting documents.
- On 28/07/2015 the appellate Court made a case management order for Quinn to respond to the appeal with a position statement.
- On 07/08/2015 Quinn duly filed a position statement. The docket does not refer to the contents …
- … until 14/08/2015 when Gjoni’s attorney responded. The docket entry reads –
“LETTER from the Defendant by his counsel, Jeffrey G. Harris: “Although the plaintiff has moved to vacate the underlying 209A order, the defendant continues to believe that this case…worthy of Direct Appellate Review…””
Quinn has filed a motion to vacate the restraining order. In American law, vacate means – “to overrule or void”. That means that Eron Gjoni has won. It is all over now bar the screaming. We do not know what reason or explanation Quinn has given (yet) – she may have said it is too expensive to try to uphold the order. Appellate hearings are not cheap. Perhaps she simply says that the horse has already bolted and the world is aware of Gjoni’s views. Nevertheless, she has thrown in her hand.
The allegations of ‘harassment’ that launched a fleet of Guardian articles. All based on alleged ‘harassment’ of Zoe Quinn. The ‘evidence’? A restraining order that Quinn has just conceded.
GamerGate is noteworthy for vast numbers of allegations being made to and even about police. For example, Brianna Wu claimed in an article that she was being harassed and the local authorities were doing nothing … until the office of Ohio district Attorney Ron O’Brien exasperately pointed out Wu had never complained to his office, the police or the FBI at all.
A repeated tactic of the extreme left in the #GamerGate scandal has been to make contentious statements then cry harassment – allegations which regularly fall in the harsh light of legal scrutiny.
Bravely, Gjoni is seeking to go to a hearing anyway. His bravery is commendable but whether or not he succeeds or fails it looks like he has already won. The Witchfinder salutes him.