Worldcon 76 Filings for Summary Judgment in Del Arroz Defamation Suit Now Online

San Francisco Science Fiction Conventions, Inc. (Worldcon 76) last month filed a motion for summary judgment in the defamation suit brought by Jon Del Arroz (see “Worldcon 76 Moves for Summary Judgment in Del Arroz’ Defamation Suit”.) The court finished posting those documents online today.

The full set of documents can be downloaded free of charge from the Superior Court of CA, County of Santa Clara court’s Case Information Online website – search case number 18-CV-334547.

Made available below are two key documents, the 26-page “Defendant’s Memorandum of Points And Authorities in Support of Motion For Summary Judgment” and the “Declaration of Kevin Roche” (chair of Worldcon 76 held in 2018).

85 thoughts on “Worldcon 76 Filings for Summary Judgment in Del Arroz Defamation Suit Now Online

  1. @StefanB — Assuming the case isn’t thrown out by a judge and eventually gets to trial, JDA deserves (like everyone does) a fair trial with a jury. And the members of that jury deserve respect for serving.

  2. Disagree with the assertion that characterizing jurors as people who couldn’t get out of jury duty is disrespectful. The overwhelming majority of prospective jurors want to get out of jury duty, which is a lot of work for very little pay, and that’s why there are fees and penalties for ignoring a jury summons, and huge FAQs on court websites discussing exactly what conditions you must meet for a deferral. I read a SF author’s Facebook post quite recently expressing relief about getting out of jury duty, with a handful of helpful comments from her friends explaining further ways to avoid it. If I were reading a book and came to a scene where prospective jurors were overjoyed about being selected I’d put it down. Will stipulate that said characterization is a gallows-humor type joke and that style of humor does not appeal to everyone. Perhaps I’m bitter because they never pick me.

  3. Kind of an unfair characterization of jurors, there. I’ve been called to jury duty, and felt like that it was an obligation of being a citizen, like voting. I’d bet most feel the same way.

    I know people in the U.S. who felt an obligation to be a juror until they served as one. The experience left them cynical about the courts and they would happily avoid serving again if they had an opportunity to get out of it.

    My one jury duty experience was to be prospective juror 15 in a large pool. Juror 14 was part of a wedding and expected to pick guests up from the airport, so he hoped he would be excused. Somehow this benign request pissed off the judge so much he made the guy be the last juror on the trial. I was sent back to juror genpop, they ran out of other cases and dismissed us.

  4. I’ve never served as a juror. I’ve never been called, or, in the latest one, I nearly got onto a jury the last tiime except that the prosecutor was not happy to learn of my family’s history vis a vis the police, and so I got dismissed.

  5. I’ve been summoned for jury service a lot of times, only once got as far as serving in the box at a trial — a pathetic indecent exposure case. Another time I was still one of the prospective jurors for a civil suit while voir dire was going on, but when we came back from lunch the case had settled. (It’s not that unusual for civil cases to settle at any point, much less when the parties are sobered by being on the verge of trial and face the possibility of losing). Then there was the time I was in the box during jury selection and was one of the two of us who had to ask the judge to be let out because the trial dates would overlap crucial work commitments. Other times when I made it as far as voir dire, and told them I worked as an IRS Appeals Officer, the defense promptly exercised their right to excuse me. While I thought I had a good record of listening to both sides, I expect they held out hope of picking people who’d mainly listen to them. (Isn’t that how it goes on Bull?)

  6. I’ve been called several times. Of the times I actually got out of the assembly room, one ended when the defendant decided to change his plea, one ended when the defense attorney didn’t show up, one I served 11 days as a potential juror before being excused (happily: I had bronchitis at the time and was taking cough syrup with codeine), one I was in the pool for a case but they got the jury selected before getting to me (I was something like #107, and they went through 102), and one I was the second alternate on a grand jury, but never had to go in after the first day. (The last two were in Texas.) At one time, my father and I would be getting called within the same month, but about a week or so apart. (Random, my @#%^! We had similar names.)

  7. @Charon Dunn

    Disagree with the assertion that characterizing jurors as people who couldn’t get out of jury duty is disrespectful.

    Well, originally you said “couldn’t figure out how to get out”; i.e., not bright enough. Which is disrespectful. But even going with your second phrasing, I was pointing out that not everyone tries to get out of duty. Yes, it’s a PITA, and depending on your employer, a financial burden. I drove from Huntsville to Birmingham AL (about 90 miles) and back three times in one week for Federal Court, and was never even picked from the pool for a case. But it’s something you do, like paying taxes.

  8. Also never summoned, would have no objections.

    Just to derail the discussion, is there any sense of when the judge is likely to make a decision?

  9. @NicPheas — hearing is set for May 11 at 9am, tentative ruling should come out a little before, losing party will probably contest it and opt for oral argument, continuance is possible.

    If anyone is interested in the juror experience, Google “jury focus groups.” Lawyers use these to conduct mock (practice) trials, and usually you get paid around $100 a day, which is approximately 10x what real jurors get paid. I would totally recommend this for anyone interested in civil procedure, or who is writing a trial scene. Some firms even hire out of these mock jury pools when they find people who seem engaged with the process.

    Usually I get 86’d from jury pools after I start answering questions about my background. Last time I actually showed up in court they had me sit in chair two and tell stories about people like Noel & Knoller before excusing me.

    It was an interesting case and I would have loved to serve. Commercial Halloween party event in SF. In attendance: (1) the Accused, an Asian man of slight build; and (2) the Victim, a tall lanky frat boy type (both are from the suburbs), with a pack of friends. At some point during the festivities, Victim accuses Accused of looking lustfully at a girl in V’s pack. Argument happens. V and pals come after A in the parking lot.

    A happens to have a lawful, permitted firearm in the trunk of his vehicle. He retrieves it. He fires a warning shot. V keeps advancing. A takes aim and shoots V in the head – without killing him! V stops bothering A and makes amazing recovery with a few brain injury residuals. The case was whether to let the Accused go, and I got excused for fitting the demographic of anti-gun jurors likely to convict, although mention was made of my violent YA novels with guns on the covers, plus I name dropped some former co-workers. I really hate name dropping in principle but I’ll do it on voir dire. I followed up on the case and A walked without doing time, and I was very happy for him.

    I actually did serve on a jury early in my career, on a DUI; we convicted. Because we were all San Franciscans and the healthy able-bodied defendant couldn’t face walking two stinking blocks without hopping in his car, and we all thought that was pathetic.

    @Bill, you’re just trying to be disagreeable and find fault with me and I think that’s both obstreperous and silly. But if you want to write a memorandum of points and authorities about how it’s mean and rude and oppressive to accuse people who can’t get out of jury duty of not being able to get out of jury duty, I will read it.

  10. @NickPheas, the hearing on the Motion for Summary Judgement is scheduled for May 11, 2021.

  11. I served on a criminal jury once. I was a little surprised to be selected, but said I could promise not to walk down that particular block a mile from my house for the next couple of weeks, since it wasn’t on my usual routes.

    Part of why I didn’t mind is that my employer agreed that jury service is a civic duty, so paid my regular salary without taking it out of my vacation time. At the time, New York was paying $40/day, and one subset of the jury pool was unemployed people whose benefits had run out, and retirees: $40/day isn’t a lot, but it’s $40 more than sitting at home doing nothing. (I signed over that $40/day to my employer, which was required if they were paying your regular salary/wages.)

  12. In spite of living and voting in this area for 30-some years, I’ve only been summoned 3 times – and each time, I dutifully called the courthouse every day for a week, and found that my presence was not needed (because they had enough jurors).

  13. Ah, jury duty.
    I’ve been bounced for asking the prosecutors if they were only prosecuting because someone got shot (my sister had been stuck up and the robber got a plea).

    Another time I showed up expecting to serve. I was on paternity leave (fancy way of saying I was using all my vacation + FMLA after my daughter was born). So, G________ and I showed up, diaper bag, bottles and pointy headed infant in tow.

    I sat through the basics and had to take G_____ to the bathroom to change her diaper. I come back the judge’s clerk stops me at the door and said “Give me your papers.”

    Ever the paragon of wit, I went “Huh?”

    Still holding out his hand, he gestured to the courtroom “There are at least 10 people in there trying to get out of jury duty claiming that they need to take care of their children. You are the only one that came with a child. So, please give me your summons.”

    No fool I, I gave him my summons to jury duty, waved bye to him and the bailiffs and left.

    Since then I’ve moved to Houston and despite a willingness to serve, haven’t managed it yet.

  14. First off, I’ve been meaning to say that the judge’s name is completely excellent. All rise for The Hon. Socrates P. Manoukian.

    Somehow I missed the SpongeBob reference!

    My mother LOVED her stints on jury duty, though she never had to serve on a really grim case. But then she wanted to be a lawyer, but nice girls like her weren’t “allowed” in her day.

    The last time I got called in, it was a brutal case, and everyone wanted out. Too bad. A deputy sheriff in uniform didn’t get excused. A grade school teacher didn’t get excused. People who were paid by the hour and wouldn’t get any money weren’t excused. Nope, show up every day for 6 weeks.

    I barely got out due to physical health and the fact that the (alleged) crime as described to the jury pool was exactly like one which had happened to a friend of mine, and I knew all the subsequent effects on her, all of which I said in voir dire. At which point the defense attorney quickly said they didn’t want me.

    Mr. LT has been excused when he calls in and they already have enough jurors, and showing up but having such a high number that they didn’t need him.

    (I am still stuck in 3890. Visit me if your time-space continuum intersects with mine.)

  15. I’ve been called for petit jury duty four times, and served on a jury (impersonating a police officer) once. I’ve also been called for grand jury duty and was seated; I had to come in all day Tuesday, every week for fourteen weeks. (My employer was not pleased by this, but graciously agreed to pay me for the time. However, they did require me to use up all of my vacation days and sick days.)

    If called again, I’ll serve again. With the usual amount of grouching about it, to be sure, but I would no more attempt to get out of it than I would attempt to get out of paying my taxes. You don’t have to be overjoyed about something in order to do your civic duty.

  16. JDA’s lawyer has an AOL email address.

    I realize this does not in any way speak to his legal capability, but I can’t remember the last time I saw a professional with an AOL address. I guess he’s just keeping continuity from the past decades, which I can dig.

    One great Yelp review, one horrible one.

    I’m confused, though — he mostly seems to handle bankruptcy cases and he lives 150 miles from the court, 2.5 hours’ drive through the most boring parts of the state (if no traffic, LOL). Obviously this is moot now with everything being done virtually, but we had no idea back when this case began that that would happen. What if he’d had to show up for all these hearings and motions and whatnot? That’s a lot of time and effort, which I’m guessing means money.

    I’d have hired someone much closer to the court, with defamation experience. But then I wouldn’t have sued at all. Or threatened to break the CoC and state law.

    (It’s all different here in 3890)

  17. lurkertype: JDA’s suit was originally filed in San Joaquin County Superior Court in Stockton. Which also isn’t close to his attorney’s home. At the time, people guessed his attorney was venue shopping. However, three months later both parties agreed to a motion to move the case to Santa Clara. And in due course all but one of the defendants was dismissed.

  18. Normally there isn’t a lot of physical travel to the court except for oral argument on motions and status conferences, and a lot of that happens on Zoom these days. Documents are all filed and served electronically in pdf format (in an acceptable font, with bookmarks and a footer) so you don’t need to physically deliver them to the court clerk. If there’s a trial, usually trial counsel will hole up in a hotel near the courthouse while their client hopes there’s a costs and fees award to pay for it. Mileage is also a reimbursable cost, and driving time is billable.

  19. @John Winkelman,

    I wouldn’t call that “going sideways” as such – rather, it highlights how easily abusers can keep their victims in a vulnerable position. Especially during lockdowns and similar restrictions. It was lucky that the rather dangerous situation was discovered here, before something went even worse.

  20. To chime in on jury duty talks: I have sat on three juries, one civil and two criminal. I was foreperson on one of the two criminal cases. Was it a PITA? Sure … but it’s also our civic duty to participate. The only time I’ve ever been excused was when I had a business trip that was already paid for and could prove that to a judge.

    I was infuriated by my fellow jurors on the civil suit, to be honest. The person had a valid case, but deliberations were taking a long time. On civil cases, the jury does not have to be unanimous. People started changing their votes “so we can go home.” 🙁

    If I wind up in the box during voir dire, I will wind up on the jury, despite having in-laws who are attorneys and judges, and an incarcerated brother. My attestation that I can remain impartial regardless is enough, I guess.

  21. @Paul Weimer: “No one could have predicted that some of his attacks would be used as evidence against him. No one.”

    Inevitably: “No one would have believed in the early years of the twenty-first century that this fandom was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences more confused than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a Puppy with an account might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a tweet.”

  22. lurkertype: my understanding is the lawyer in question is part of the same conservatives science fiction group as JDA and took it on by that association. The lawyer as some interesting history with his local DA office and courts that you can look into, but I would say, generally, that selecting a lawyer not well versed or without history in the area of law your case involves is not a recipe for success.

    On court duty, I served on a county grand jury that was extended to 14 months. interesting, but not at all what people are told or is depicted in media. I’ve been a witness in plenty of federal and civil cases.

    I must say the motion arguments are very well put together and well reasoned. I look forward to seeing what comes out of May 11. If my memory serves a MSJ would not allow the defendant to recover attorney fees? Anyone know the current state of California law on this?

  23. I was on a Grand Jury for several weeks about 10 years ago but am now exempt due to age. I was able to walk home every day for lunch, a brisk walk of about 10 minutes. The jurors were an interesting bunch of people.

  24. My employers were Not Pleased when I was chosen for a Grand Jury. The full day, every Tuesday, for 14 weeks.

    But, to give them their due, they paid me for the time, even though I didn’t have that much vacation time left. (I did have to use up my vacation time on it.)

  25. When I was called up, my work kept me on full wages. There is a mostly token monetary compensation from our Justice system. It got sent to my employer, so in effect they subsidized my jury service. I keep finding out stuff about America that aren’t very democratic or just.

  26. Cassy B. re Grand Jury duty…

    In the previous century a friend of mine having been unemployed for like 2 years or so finally landed a job. A week later summons to serve on a Grand Jury arrived. She told the prosecutor her concerns. And the prosecutor told her, essentially “If your employer tries to let you go over this, let us know. We will deal with them.”

  27. Oh, I know that my employers couldn’t fire me or sanction me for serving on a jury, petit or grand. But there’s no law that says they have to PAY me for the time that I’m not working there. And the amount that the government pays for jury service is a pittance; my check for 14 days of jury service, including mileage (the court is something like 15 miles away from my house) was something like $400. About $30 a day.

  28. @Kevin Roche – Has JDA’s attorney filed resp. yet?

    Nothing I can comment on; at this point we’re waiting on the judge.

  29. Go to the court’s Case Information Online portal as linked in the original post, search for the case number, and look under the Events tab. There’s a whole mess of stuff, “mess” being the operative word. Gritty save the Honorable Socrates Manoukian and his clerks.

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