11:15am PT by Eriq Gardner
Preacher Suing MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Wants 'Leftist Judge' Disqualified
Bradlee Dean, the heavy metal rocker-turned-radio host and conservative preacher who is suing MSNBC host Rachel Maddow for $50 million, has launched a tirade against the judge over a recent decision in the case.
Last July, Dean sued Maddow and NBCUniversal for defamation, claiming she twisted Dean's words about wanting to see more gays and lesbians killed, in an effort to undermine former Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann.
Maddow tried to knock out the lawsuit on First Amendment grounds, and just before DC Superior Court Judge Joan Zeldon was about to make a ruling, Dean motioned to voluntarily withdraw the lawsuit. He then filed a new complaint in federal court in a strategic move to escape the D.C. Anti-SLAPP Act.
But Maddow wouldn't let Dean walk away from the Superior Court, and what's more, wanted Dean to pay sanctions. Two weeks ago, Judge Zeldon ruled that Dean and his ministry, You Run But You Cannot Hide International, could only dismiss the lawsuit without prejudice if he paid Maddow $24,625.23 in attorney's costs. Now, Dean is in an awkward situation. In order to pursue Maddow in the federal lawsuit -- which has been stayed -- he has to pay the television personality he hates.
And so, on Tuesday, Dean sought to have Zeldon, a "leftist judge" who he believes is acting like a "woman scorned," disqualified.
Larry Klayman, the attorney for Dean, believes that his client has every right to pursue the defamation lawsuit in federal court. "We didn't hurt anyone," he says. "The case never got very far."
Maddow and NBCU disagree. They believe that the plaintiffs have engaged in "blatant forum-shopping" in an effort "to take advantage of a decision by a judge [in the federal] district declining to apply the [Anti-SLAPP] Act," a statute meant to dissuade lawsuits aimed at stifling free speech.
Now the case is active again at the Superior Circuit before a judge who hasn't reacted kindly to the plaintiff's legal maneuvers. Thus, the fee award.
Dean thinks that the judge is showing "bias" and in a declaration to the court yesterday, points to a few reasons.
He says the judge has announced her retirement from the bench, but has decided to preside over this case just to punish him. He says the judge has mocked him and his counsel while jumping to the conclusion that "this case involves a serious attack on (Defendants') First Amendment rights" and that "they had every right to retain distinguished counsel to defend them."
Dean believes that he and Klayman are being portrayed as "scoundrels for having raised serious issues about inflated fees and billing" as well as the ones who are delaying the proceedings unnecessarily.
So he wants Judge Zeldon out of the picture. "This extra-judicial bias and prejudice is also the admitted result of Judge Zeldon acting like a 'woman scorned' after YCR and I decided to file suit in federal court," he says in a legal filing.
Unfortunately for Dean, the motion for disqualification is a real long-shot. Assuming the judge doesn't voluntarily recuse herself, Dean will probably have to fork over more than $24,000 to Maddow or else the case gets dismissed with prejudice. Meaning, his federal lawsuit would have no hope.