Attorney for archaeologist found to have retaliated against students who reported misconduct again threatens the reporter who outed her

Danielle Kurin

As readers of this blog know, I have been sued for $10 million in defamation damages (downgraded by the court from the original $18 million demanded) for reporting accurately and truthfully about University of California, Santa Barbara archaeologist Danielle Kurin and repeated accusations of misconduct against her and her ex-husband (please see here for the latest update including links to previous stories.)

The strategy employed by Kurin and her attorney, David Scher of the Hoyer Law Group, has been to engage in continual threats and attempts at intimidation in an effort to force me to delete and renounce my reporting. Here is the latest attempt: Scher's email of today, and my response.

Mr. Balter,

In your July 22, 2020 blog post hosted at, you falsely accuse Dr. Kurin, and in turn the Hoyer Law Group, of attempting to “intimidate witnesses and tamper with their potential testimony.” You have also made several similar false and baseless comments on Twitter regarding alleged victim intimidation. These same individuals that you refer to you in your tweets are potential witnesses and/or jurors in this case.

While you are a pro se litigant and therefore accorded some additional amount of leniency, you are still expected to comport your conduct to the rules of the court. Rule 3.6 of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct prohibits litigants from making extrajudicial statements that one knows or reasonably should know will be disseminated by means of public communication and will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter.

More specifically, Rule 3.6(b) clarifies that “a statement ordinarily is likely to prejudice materially an adjudicative proceeding when it refers to a civil matter triable to a jury … and the statement relates to: (1) “the character, [or] credibility… of a … witness.” Statements that a witness has been intimidated or tampered with goes directly to the credibility of a witness, and this is prohibited under Rule 3.6.

Accordingly, I request that you remove any such allegations from your blog and social media no later than Wednesday, August 5, 2020 at 12 PM Eastern and further issue a retraction affirmatively retracting any and all allegations that our firm has ever engaged in witness intimidation and/or tampering. If you fail to do so, we will be filing a motion against you for sanctions.

For reference, you can find the NY Rules of Professional Conduct here:

If you have any questions about the above, please let me know.


Dave Scher, Partner
Hoyer Law Group
Direct: 202-997-8227

Mr. Scher,

Thank you for your message.

I will not be retracting any of the statements you mention; rather, I will be posting your email on my blog as yet another example of your attempts at intimidation of a reporter who simply has reported the truth about your client.

I will make two comments, however.

1. Whether you know it or not, your client is actively seeking to discover the sources of my reporting, by contacting potential witnesses herself in a way that they find intimidating and threatening.

2. My opinion that your client brought this lawsuit to try to intimidate me and victims of her misconduct, and to intimidate me, is protected speech. And if you consider that it is not, that is an issue to be litigated during the court process, not through sanctions.

You and your client are clearly attempting to get the relief you seek simply by filing a defamation suit against me, in hopes that I will simply shut up. That is not going to happen. I look forward to defending [against] your client's bogus and dishonest claims before a judge and jury.

Best regards,

Michael Balter

Addendum: One of the remarkable aspects of the threats from Scher, detailed above, is the sheer hypocrisy they display. Scher claims that my statements about his client and himself are prejudicial and somehow likely to taint the jury pool. He seems to forget the remarkably nasty, personal, and yes, defamatory statements that he and his client have not only made about me but which I have allowed them to make in my own blog posts without cutting or editing.

A look back at the previous posts illustrates this amply. I have been accused of "gaslighting," "cyberbullying," my sources have been called "spies" and I have been accused of invading Kurin's privacy. And on and on. Should Scher file his motion for sanctions, I will be obliged to bring these prejudicial statements about me to the attention of the court. But I do hope that Scher and his client will not waste the court's time, along with the money of Kurin's father, Smithsonian Institution scientist Richard Kurin, whom I believe is paying the legal bills.

Meanwhile, there are sexual assault survivors, victims of Kurin's partner (or ex-partner, as she claims, an issue that will be explored during this litigation), who are still suffering from their experiences including the many ways in which Kurin herself attempted to cover up for the misconduct--either by retaliating against the victims or by lying and gaslighting about what happened, including in this lawsuit.

Still more from Scher:

Mr. Balter,

For your information, our view is that any publication of communications between the parties that does or could tend to prejudice witnesses or jurors falls under the same rule.

Point 1 below is simply false and is based at best on anonymous hearsay gossip.

Point 2 is also false. We are not trying to intimdate you (or anyone else).  We are, as best as we can, ensuring that Dr. Kurin has fair consideration of her application for tenure, free of your defamation, bullying, and intentional interference with her business relations with the University. 

As we’ve told you the relief we seek is not “intimidation”.  Rather we seek a full retraction of all defamatory statements and related remarks, an agreement of non-defamation in the future, and an agreement to leave Dr. Kurin alone and stop bullying, harassing and interfering with her right to pursue tenure.


Dave Scher, Partner
Hoyer Law Group
Direct: 202-997-8227

And my response:

Mr. Scher,

Apparently the highly prejudicial and personal statements that you and your client have made about me, saying that I am "gaslighting" and a "cyberbully," etc etc., do not taint the jury pool, but my opinions about the purpose of this lawsuit do. I think you will be wasting the court's time and your client's money if you file a motion for sanctions, but we shall see.


Post a Comment


Anonymous said…
So... I'm very confused. Is this a "rinky dink" website run by a crank who lacks credibility that no one reads or, is this a powerful digital publication that has such a wide readership and credibility that it could sway or influence a professor's tenure committee consisting of faculty. If the committee refused to grant tenure to Kurin, it seems more likely they would consider the multiple title ix complaints against Kurin filed by students (some well before Balter started writing about Kurin).
Anonymous said…
Scher writes that the intimidation reports are "based at best on anonymous hearsay gossip". If he had bothered to do his homework, he would have discovered that Kurin said the exact same thing on the those who complained in 2015. Then, UCSB looked into it and found Kurin to have retaliated against students. Mr. Scher- you should hire better fact-checkers or you'll miserably lose this lawsuit.