|The Mediator's Chamber at Ryswick (1697)/ Jan Van Vianen - Gallica notice FRBNF41505295.|
The painting above, by the Dutch artist Jan Van Vianen, depicts the peace talks held in the Dutch city of Ryswick (now usually spelled Rijswijk), between France on the one side and the Grand Alliance of England, Spain, Austria, and the Dutch Republic on the other. They put an end to the Nine Years' War between the combatants.
On February 19, Judge Vincent Briccetti of the Southern District of New York, White Plains Branch, ordered the parties in University of California, Santa Barbara archaeologist Danielle Kurin's defamation suit against me to begin mediation in good faith. While the talks--which are strictly confidential per the court rules--will be held on April 8 by Zoom and not in the kind of ornate mediation chamber pictured above, the sentiments on both sides of this lawsuit may well be just as intense as they were in Ryswick (the public docket of the case, where most major developments are posted, can be found at this link.)
The scheduled mediation does not stop the clock on the case. We have to continue forward now on two tracks: (1) Attempting to resolve the case through the mediation and (2) continuing discovery and meeting the case deadlines ordered by the Court.
As followers of this blog know, last June Kurin sued me for $18 million in damages for allegedly defaming her in a series of reports about her misconduct, as documented by her university, an archaeology field school, and students.
The case has taken a number of twists and turns, which can be followed by consulting previous posts on this blog. But Judge Briccetti ordered the parties to prepare a joint letter by February 19 about attempts to settle the case, and whether the court might be able to assist in settlement. In that joint letter, both parties agreed that the court might be able to help, and thus the judge appointed a mediator.
We have no way of knowing at this point whether the mediation will result in an agreement. But as we prepare for the mediation and continue with discovery, which is very expensive, I would urge all of those concerned about the key issues in the case--the right of survivors to tell their stories without fear of retaliation, and freedom of the press for journalists to report the truth without fear of lawsuits--to contribute to the legal defense fund. By doing so, you will also receive regular updates on the case.
Thank you, and more news soon.