Judge Tells Avi Adelman He Can Depose City Council Candidate Philip Kingston

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Adelman
Back in September, attorney Melissa Kingston sued Lower Greenville blogger/rancorous shit-disturber Avi Adelman, memorably calling him "a self-proclaimed vigilante-style neighborhood activist who more accurately resembles a neighborhood terrorist."

The whole fight began over the new Wal-Mart in that neighborhood: Adelman hates it, while Kingston says she was working with five neighborhood associations to negotiate some new, less-horrible lighting in its parking lot. But the day after the lights went up, Kingston alleges, Adelman registered a domain name in her name and started sending emails to Wal-Mart and the neighborhood groups from it. His emails also featured Wal-Mart's logo, altered to read "Wal Mart: Screwing Neighborhoods, One House at a Time."

Kingston wanted him to cut that out. She also wanted a temporary restraining order preventing him from getting anywhere her home or business, which Judge Carlos Cortez granted in late September. But as a new hearing this morning made clear, the real issue has become the extent to which Philip Kingston, Melissa's husband and a City Council candidate for Angela Hunt's spot in District 14, will be dragged into the case.

Today, Philip Kingston's lawyer implied that Adelman was only eager to get Kingston deposed so that he could videotape the whole thing and put it on his website, Barking Dogs.

In a filing in October, Adelman argued that Kingston's campaign was the entire reason for his wife's lawsuit, and that the couple was trying to silence him and his blog. He's been the opposite of silent so far, posting legal documents to Barking Dogs as well as an incredibly weird picture of Angela Hunt holding a baby with Philip Kingston's face. (Another picture of Kingston on the site features the Wal-Mart logo and the word "PWNED" superimposed over his face in giant red letters, thus proving that "pwned" is officially no longer a cool thing to say, if it ever was.)

Through his attorney, Justin Nichols of San Antonio, Adelman has asked that the suit be dismissed under Texas' anti-SLAPP laws, which prohibit lawsuits meant only to stifle criticism. That motion wasn't considered today; however, the judge did consider whether letters sent by both sides during an attempted settlement negotiation could be used to prove Adelman's assertion that the lawsuit is an attempt to shut him up. The judge eventually granted that motion.

The main issue, though, was Philip Kingston. His lawyer, James Stanton, told the judge that Kingston is "a stranger to this lawsuit" and that he feared that if Kingston were deposed, it would be "misused" by Adelman and put online.

"This shouldn't be an art project for the Internet," Stanton said. "That's not what the litigation process is about." He asked for a restraining order on how the video could be used, as well as a requirement that the whole thing be witnessed by a professional court stenographer.

Nichols argued that a professional stenographer would be way too expensive, and that Adelman hadn't put anything online that wasn't already public record. When the judge asked if the deposition would in fact end up online, Nichols replied, "I have not had that conversation with Mr. Adelman." But he added that the deposition wasn't "some creative way to harass Mr. Kingston." (He also admitted that a previous phone conversation with Stanton about the potential deposition had gotten "feisty.")

The judge ultimately ruled that Mr. Kingston can be deposed, but that the deposition "will not be for public consumption." If Stanton wants a stenographer present, he'll have to pay for it, not Adelman.

The judge also took a moment, or several of them, to chide Nichols for trying to get the male Kingston in the courtroom today via a subpoena served last night at the Kingston's home by a private process server. It's the second time they've tried to subpoena Mr. Kingston. The judge clarified, with some irritation, that sending people to the house was a violation of the temporary restraining order.

"When I say, don't come to her residence, is that not clear?" he asked Nichols.

"I didn't think it included the process server," the lawyer replied.

"So you get to make that call?" the judge asked, rhetorically.

"I didn't think it violated the spirit of the TRO," Nichols explained.

"Oh, the spirit," Judge Cortez replied. (Only judges are able to cram so much sarcastic, weary, disbelieving grouchiness into so few syllables.)

The judge then went on to tell both parties that "this is going to get ugly real quick" if people tried to abuse the discovery process during the suit.

"There is no case that is worth your law license," he added.

Nichols quickly withdrew his subpoena for Mr. Kingston.

"That's a good decision," the judge told him. He added that any more "chicanery" or "misuse of the discovery process" would make him very unhappy.

After the hearing, Melissa Kingston declined to comment. Adelman stood in the hall, mopping his forehead and looking uncharacteristically subdued. He denied that he'd ever planned to throw the whole deposition online.

"I need to digest this," he added. "I think we did good though."

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24 comments
FemmeLe
FemmeLe

Avi may be the scum of the universe but my daddy used to say that the most dangerous person to mess with is someone with nothing to lose. Avi looks fairly judgment proof from everything I have read. The Kingstons on the other hand look fairly successful and likely have some assets. If I were Avi's lawyer the thought might cross my mind to draft a petition for a groundless lawsuit and have it fueled and ready to launch in case Avi won a TCPA motion or Kingston nonsuited. I am sure if it hasn't already the thought will cross young Mr. Nichols mind at some point in the very near future. I also hope the Kingstons lawyers counseled them on this matter before bringing their lawsuit against Avi in the first place. As to the youthfulness of a lawyer I learned long ago never to underestimate the tenacity or voracity of a young law school graduate. I've seen some fresh faced young lawyers score some pretty big wins against even the most seasoned old rat faced ones.

Sharon_Moreanus
Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

Avi hired a gay SMU boy with 7 months experience to represent him?

He's gonna need a christmas miracle.

mcdallas
mcdallas topcommenter

My nomination for "Best D.O. Sentence 2012" is the following gem:

Only judges are able to cram so much sarcastic, weary, disbelieving grouchiness into so few syllables.

Absolutely classic.  Very creative, succinct, and creates a great mental image of what was going on...

ChrisYu
ChrisYu topcommenter

you left out the important part. the judge said everybody can park in avi's front yard on St. Patricks Day

James080
James080 topcommenter

Let's see...Justin Nichols, solo practitioner located in San Antonio, May, 2012 graduate of St. Mary's University. Areas of practice - Consumer, Creditor-Debtor, Family, Wills-Trusts-Probate, LGBT Law. If he graduated in May of this year, he's had his license for several months anyway. 

Draw your own conclusions.

cehmann1
cehmann1

I don't see where you introduce "Nichols".  Does he/she have a first name?

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

Also I noticed Avi hired a San Antonio based lawfirm, is that because no lawyer in Dallas would touch him

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

If you had to choose your neighbor either being a wal mart or Avi, Im betting the Wal Mart wins in a landslide

leeeeeeeeee
leeeeeeeeee

I really enjoy the Wal Mart grocery store!

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

you know, the amount of cars in the Wal Mart parking lot and the number of customers going in and out of that store with their arms full of grocery bags tells me that the neighborhood really likes having the store there.

heart_and_soul
heart_and_soul

@FemmeLe 

Avi is the scum of the universe and there is no maybe about it. I think he has plenty to lose like his freedom for one thing.  Everyone knows he was running some scam to extort money from Wal-mart. If enough facts come out in this case maybe the DA will have what he needs to finally put this criminal behind bars.


James080
James080 topcommenter

@ChrisYu  

He didn't say everyone could "park" in Avi's yard, he said everyone could "pee" there.

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

@cehmann1 Shoot. That's Adelman's lawyer, Justin Nichols. I'm gonna blame my editor, but I secretly think that was entirely my fault. Thanks for catching that. Should appear corrected shortly. 

DOCensors
DOCensors

@mavdog The neighborhood? You mean the hive of mexican slums a few blocks away.

FemmeLe
FemmeLe

You know nothing would surprise me but I think it would be pretty difficult to illegally extort money from an enterprise like Walmart. Just the same I bet that by the time this is over the Kingstons are out a wad of cash they wouldn't have been if cooler heads had prevailed. More likely than not Avi walks away with some of it.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@DOCensors @mavdog 

Hey, hey now, DOC. They're just going where the customers are. Right? Job Creators! Free enterprise! Economic activity!

C'mon DOC! Where's that conservative "Screw you, I got mine!" spirit we've come to know and love?

Lakewooder
Lakewooder

@DOCensors "mexican slums" = nicely kept neighborhoods inhabited by proud, hard working, family oriented people?

DOCensors
DOCensors

@markzero waaaaa wacismmmmmm

And yes it is censorship. When Joe Tone deletes the comments that disagree with his libtard agenda it's censorship. He has the right to do it but that doesn't change what it is. 


markzero
markzero

@DOCensors @mcdallas @Lakewooder It's a private site, so it's not censorship if they choose to stop putting up with your racist screeds. 

That said, I think you perform a very important role as a visible reminder, to those who need it, that people as hateful as you still exist in our community. People might feel less incentive to continue to push for equality and justice if this place became a simple echo chamber.

DOCensors
DOCensors

@Lakewooder @DOCensors Nicely kept? I see you've never left your whiteopian enclave. Or you just really enjoy litter, packs of roaming dogs shitting everywhere and constant yard sales of ceramic roosters and stolen goods. 

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