Monday, March 10, 2008

She Said, He Said

In my entry over the weekend, I described what I called the facts of Steele v. Isikoff. In fact, the case was decided on a motion to dismiss, and so these were merely the plaintiff's allegations, assumed to be true by the court for purposes of deciding the case. Michael Isikoff emailed me objecting to the characterization. Isikoff and Newsweek alleged in their answer that there was never a deal to keep Steele's comments off the record. A fair point. I apologize for the misimpression.

In his email to me, Isikoff also pointed out that the case had an alternative holding---namely, that even had there been an enforceable contract, it would not have been binding because Steele planned to lie. That's also true but not especially relevant. When a court offers two reasons for its decision, either of which would be independently sufficient to sustain the result, they are both treated as the holding of the case. This principle is set forth in comment o to section 27 of the Restatement 2d of Judgments (1982).

Finally, Isikoff stated:

Of course, Ken Starr's office later concluded that Steele lied in her second
set of conversations with me, denying what she said the first time and
indicted on the basis that her second account was fabricated. Nine of 12 jurors
voted to convict, the case ended in mistrial and Starr didn't retry. If you're
really interested in the nitty gritty details, check out the afterward to the
paperback edition of my book, Uncovering Clinton.)


(Oh, and by the way, before I reported on our email exchange, I asked Mr. Isikoff whether he minded my treating it as "on the record." He said he did not.)

Posted by Mike Dorf

7 comments:

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On the issue of the living constitution, I always like to refer to Jefferson's thinking on the subject which is excerpted on the 4th panel of the Jefferson memorial: I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.
Appears on the panel of the southeast interior wall. Redacted and excerpted from a letter to Samuel Kercheval, July 12, 1816.

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