As regular readers of this blog know, I have been sued for defamation by University of California, Santa Barbara archaeologist Danielle Kurin for my reporting on documented misconduct by her and her former husband, Enmanuel Gomez Choque (you can read the Plaintiff's Amended Complaint here and my Amended Answer to her Complaint here.) The case was filed in federal court, the Southern District for New York's White Plains branch, and has been assigned to Judge Vicent Briccetti.
Now that the Complaint and Answer (known as the "pleadings") have been filed with the court, the case moves into the so-called discovery phase. For those not familiar with civil procedure, this means that each side of the litigation can seek evidence and other information from the opposite side, as well as from third parties that might have relevant information.
This evidence seeking exercise takes several forms. Perhaps the best known is the deposition, where a witness sits down with the lawyers and a court reporter and answers questions under oath (during the pandemic, many or most depositions are being done remotely, although a court reporter must still be there.) Thus my legal team from the firm of BakerHostetler will no doubt take Kurin's deposition, and Kurin's attorney, David Scher of the Hoyer Law Group, will take mine. In addition, each side is likely to depose other relevant witnesses.
The parties in the lawsuit can also ask each other written questions, which are called interrogatories, or ask each other to admit to certain facts, and so on.
The lawyers for both sides have agreed to--and Judge Briccetti has approved--a joint "Civil Case Discovery Plan and Scheduling Order" which lays out how discovery will be conducted. All "fact discovery" (seeking evidence relevant to the case) must be completed by January 12, and all "expert discovery" (for example, depositions of expert witnesses) must be completed by March 7.
In addition, in a separate order dated September 14, the judge has scheduled a "case management conference" with all parties to be held by telephone on March 19, 2021. Judge Briccetti has also ordered the parties to submit a joint letter by February 19 about any efforts to settle the case short of going to trial, and whether the Court can assist in that process.
While I have said a great deal publicly about this case up to now, as we go forward there will be some restrictions on how much I can say. I will, however, continue to link to any official filings in the case, which can also be found on the court docket.
Last but not least, defending this lawsuit will be expensive. Although BakerHostetler is representing me pro bono, I still must raise the basic legal expenses such as for court reporters, etc. If you would like to help out, please contribute to the case's GoFundMe campaign. You will be helping me, but much more importantly, you will be supporting freedom of the press and the rights of survivors to abuse to tell their stories.