The title "Defending Singleton" grabbed my attention a couple of weeks ago, causing me to read a column I generally make it a practice to skip over. Initially, I considered composing a response to it, but realizing I couldn't really do justice to its shortcomings within your 300 word limit, I didn't try.
So I was pleased that the letters by Tim Gray and Todd Larsen in your Jan. 30 issue dealt quite nicely with the non-sequiturial reasoning and tortured contrarianism that had so vexed me in the column, leaving just one remaining item I felt required public attention. That was Singleton's foray into employing the email spam problem as another wedge for extortion. I recalled that the NCJ's cover story (by Ryan Burns) in the Sept. 30, 2010 issue described the effective destruction of another business — the small Garberville internet service provider which Singleton had apparently persuaded he could assist by employing the federal CAN-SPAM Act in order to deter the spam-scum who were tormenting it. I thought this additional example of his practice of dredging up plaintiffs to front for his racket would provide a helpful perspective to fill out the picture. So I looked up that article and re-read it.
What an eyeful that was! Besides refreshing my recall on that particular gratuitous disaster, it contained offhand references to Bob Doran's article "Access and Dollars" way back in the March 8, 2001 issue (also a cover story) and Heidi Walters' "Jason Singleton Strikes Again" in the May 8, 2008 NCJ. All three are required reading (if you think you can bear to know what's actually going on), and all are available in the NCJ's website archive. Read 'em and weep... or gnash your teeth.
Mark Drake, Fortuna
Good on you, Marcy, for spelling out in real and clear terms why aggressive attorneys are needed to bring about recognition of the rights of the majority, those who are not powerful — because it doesn't happen otherwise. I think it was Frederick Douglass who said, "Power concedes nothing without a demand, never has, and never will."
Differently abled folks, like people of color, women, seniors, First Nations people, workers, LGBT folk, sometimes students, have had to struggle to get their rights recognized. Courageous and sometimes noisy attorneys have been part of those struggles. Of course they're unpopular with some and labeled in the media as outsiders, pinkos, and ambulance-chasers. It's so much easier to trash them then it is to listen.
The Americans With Disabilities Act is Congress' free market response to the challenge of protecting the right of access for all. Rather than creating an elaborate bureaucracy to enforce the act, Congress provided a private right of action allowing lawsuits to be brought to enforce the right, and an attorney's fees provision so that private attorneys could afford to take the cases, which are time consuming, and involve clients who can rarely afford attorneys themselves.
Remember, kids, the rights you save may be your own.
Michael Golden, Bayside